My husband and I just recently got back from vacation. We went to Oslo, Norway to celebrate our anniversary and had the chance to visit the Nobel Peace Center. The whole travel issue is something I have been thinking about quite a bit recently. How can you say your interested in the health of the environment and then go on international trips? Excellent question, which I will leave to another post to answer.
In the meantime, I want to post about an amazing exhibit we saw at the Nobel Peace Center. The exhibit – Envisioning Change: Melting Ice A Hot Topic was truly moving and memorable. For both my husband and I, it was the image of a polar bear seemingly stranded on a small piece of ice, isolated within a huge expanse of water, that we won’t forget. The show is made up of 80 artworks by 42 artists from 23 countries and will eventually be in Chicago. Each of the artists shows how climate change has impacted our world or challenges you to think critically about our behavior.
One of the ideas I came away with from this trip was that (at least from the very limited experience I had) the Norwegians seem to realize as true that climate change is real and human behavior is responsible for it. I saw it in advertising on the buses and streets, messages that showed how conservation can positively impact the environment. It seemed like they had moved beyond the despair of "Inconvenient Truth" and into the positive phase of making
real change. Of course, they are a little better set up: buses, ped-friendly city, rental bike stands dotted around the city, and corners shops – all these elements work together and allow people to more easily reduce their impact.
I read somewhere that the pace of a city is slower when most people ride or walk to get around and I actually witnessed that when we were in Oslo. The capital city of Norway actually felt less hurried than the streets of Boulder and that has nothing to do with it’s people fitness or speed as a Norwegian 5 hour hike took us 7. A city that runs on cars has a tempo of around 30 – 40 mph. Of course, that sounds more efficient. Getting from point A to point B quickly. But what about the potential corollary benefits of a city that moves by bike or ped: exercise, less carbon emissions, less fuel consumption and perhaps greater community interaction. These are all impossible to measure and they are kind of loosey-goosey variables but when it comes to conservation and the way we interact with our environment, their significance becomes more important.