Environment Field Note: The Norway Environment

Norway is a country that has many mountains, rivers, fjords, and beautiful landscapes. A fjord is a river that flows into the ocean. On either side of a fjord, there are tall and steep cliffs. My friend Laurine and I went on a hike up a mountain near my dormitory to look at the fjord next to Bodø. This fjord is called Skjerstadfjorden.

Norwegians love the outdoors. Like a lot of Americans, they enjoy hiking, skiing and especially being outside during the summer when the sun never sets. Have you heard of the midnight sun? This is when the sun is in the sky at midnight, and this is what happens in Bodø because it is so far north. The winters in Norway are very dark, and here in northern Norway the sun never rises in December. So when summer does come, Norwegians love to be outdoors and enjoy the sunlight, since it is up all day and all night. Since it is so light out, you can find people walking their children in strollers at 9:00 p.m.! It is even common to see people running outside at 10:00 p.m.

My friend Laurine and I went on a hike up to a mountain near our dormitory in Bodø. It was an exhausting hike up because the mountain is very steep. The view at the top of the mountain was beautiful. We could see the city of Bodø below us. We could also see lots of planes flying from the airport. There are so many planes because it is difficult to drive all around these fjords, so lots of people fly instead of drive. We also had a great view of the fjord that is next to our city. There are whales, shrimp, walruses, and seals that come into this fjord, but we didn’t see them this day. We even saw several Norwegians hiking around us, even though it was very cold out. The temperature was around 40°. Some Norwegians were even having a picnic! We thought it was too cold for that.

The fishing industry is very big in Norway. Fjords are one of the main places where fishers go to make their catch. Fish isn’t the only thing fishers catch. They also hunt seals, walruses, and whales. This is not a good thing because if fishers continue to hunt whales and seals, then there will not be enough of them to survive. This is why many Norwegians are now trying to stop whale and seal hunting. This will hopefully protect these animals and make sure they can live long lives and eventually give birth to offspring.

These fjords are also helpful for Norwegians to get energy for heating and cooking. Since there is lots of water coming from the fjord into the ocean, they are able to use the power of the water flow to turn a turbine and create electricity. Do you know what a turbine is? It’s basically when water flows over a wheel, and the water turns this wheel. As the wheel is turning, it creates energy that is changed into electricity for our homes. Almost all of the electricity in Norway is hydroelectric, which is when they use water to create power to heat homes and provide energy. This is better than burning gas because it does not release harmful chemicals into the air. In Norway they use the flow of water to turn a turbine and get energy.

Have you heard of oil being used as energy? We burn a lot of oil to get our energy, and the United States gets a large amount of oil from Norway. Oil is trapped underground in the ocean off the coast of Norway, so Norwegians are able to take a ship into the ocean and get this oil from the ground to ship to the U.S. and other countries. Oil is not a renewable resource. A renewable resource is one that can be used again and again, like water power. Oil is burned and it is no longer oil, so it can’t be used again.

When oil is taken from the ground, it might also harm walruses, seals, and whales because of the noise it makes to get the oil. Whales use echolocation to move around. This means that they make sounds and listen to echo of the sound to see where they are in the water, or maybe where a fish is that they want to eat. If we remove oil from the ground, it makes lots of noise that affects how whales echolocate. Oil might also spill into the ocean and this would harm whales because oil is a harmful chemical. Now Norwegians are making more rules to make sure that these animals are not hurt from oil being removed.

When Laurine and I were sitting on top of the mountain and looking around, we saw that many old houses are on mountains around the fjord. In the old days, many Norwegians had houses on fjords because they were able to get lots of fish for food. This still happens today, and many of my Norwegian friends go fishing to catch food for dinner. They mainly do this in the summer when it is warmer out.

The most difficult thing living in northern Norway is when it gets cold out. Living on a fjord in northern Norway can be great to catch fish, but it is very windy and cold in these areas. Since it is so cold, farming only happens for a few months in the summer. In the summer the temperature does not get much warmer than 60°! So this makes farming and living difficult if they cannot grow much food. Instead, they usually ship vegetables from Holland to northern Norway. Do you know where Holland is? It’s also called the Netherlands, and it is south of Norway and north of France and Belgium.

Norwegians do a very good job collecting food, finding ways to stay warm, and selling oil. They catch fish, whales, walruses, and seals, and use this to eat and sell to other people to make money. They use hydroelectric power to heat their house and cook on the stove. Do you remember what hydroelectric power is? It’s when water is used as energy, and this is a renewable resource. You can use water again and again. The oil they sell to the U.S. is not renewable, and you can only use it once. Both oil and hydroelectric power may hurt animals like whales and walruses, and hunting these animals may make it so they won’t survive.

Until we talk next time, snakkes snart! (talk to you soon)!

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