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cover art for The EU has the strongest climate law in the world. But it's not enough.

63 Degrees North

The EU has the strongest climate law in the world. But it's not enough.

Season 2, Ep. 12

Earlier this year, tremendous floods in Pakistan forced 600,000 pregnant women to leave their homes for safer ground. It was among the latest in a series of nearly unthinkable happenings caused by climate change."Can you imagine if you are about to give birth to a child, and you have to leave your home and flee? These are very traumatic experiences that people have now in all continents, and increasing frequency," says NNTU Professor Edgar Hertwich. He says we all know now that climate change is no longer an abstraction — it's here, and humankind has to act.

Hertwich — one of the top 100 climate researchers on the planet — is in a unique position to push the international agenda: he's one of just 15 members on the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change, which is advising the EU on implementing its new climate law. That matters because the EU is the largest political entity in the world to commit to such ambitious goals.

The 27 nations in the EU have committed to cutting their carbon emissions by at least 55% in just 8 years — by 2030. By 2050, the EU law commits its member nations to a net-zero emissions balance — meaning that they will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions as much as they can and find ways of compensating for the remaining and unavoidable emissions so that the net emissions are zero.

This is an aggressive plan, Hertwich says, but it doesn't go nearly far enough. And he's been vocal in telling EU leaders just that. Listen to what he had to say to a recent EU Strategy Summit on Climate in Brussels, hosted by NTNU and SINTEF, Scandinavia's largest independent research institution.

You can read a collection of popular science articles about Professor Hertwich's research here.

Here's a selection of his recent academic publications:

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  • 15. Listening to Leviathans: Sounds from the deep

    30:49
    Norwegian technology, courtesy of the 19th-century whaler Svend Foyn, played a critical role in establishing the modern era of industrial whaling.By the time the 1960s rolled around, most large whale populations hovered on the brink of extinction. Now, Norwegian researchers are testing new technologies so they can track and study these marine giants — and help protect them. This week, tapping into fibre-optic cables to eavesdrop on whales in a way that's never been done before— and how deploying a comprehensive library of whale dialects can help prevent ship-whale collisions in busy California shipping ports. This week's guests are Jennifer Bailey, a professor at NTNU's Department of Sociology and Political Science; Martin Landrø, a professor at NTNU's Department of Electronic Systems; Léa Bouffaut, a postdoc at the Cornell University K. Lisa Yang Center for Conservation Bioacoustics; and Ana Širović, an associate professor at NTNU's Department of Biology. Ana's work with whale dialects and ship strikes is part of the Whale Safe Project.You can read more about the fibre-optic research in these articles from Norwegian SciTech News:Tracking whales as they cruise the ArcticEavesdropping on the Earth itselfEavesdropping on whales in the High ArcticHere are some of the academic articles related to the research discussed in the episode.Landrø, M., Bouffaut, L., Kriesell, H.J. et al. Sensing whales, storms, ships and earthquakes using an Arctic fibre optic cable. Sci Rep 12, 19226 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-23606-xLéa Bouffaut, Kittinat Taweesintananon, Hannah Kriesell, Robin A Rørstadbotnen, John R Potter, Martin Landrø, Ståle E Johansen, Jan K Brenne, Aksel Haukanes, Olaf Schjelderup and Frode Storvik. Eavesdropping at the speed of light: distributed acoustic sensing of baleen whales in the Arctic. Frontiers in Marine Science. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2022.901348Rørstadbotnen RA, Eidsvik J, Bouffaut L, Landrø M, Potter J, Taweesintananon K, Johansen S, Storevik F, Jacobsen J, Schjelderup O, Wienecke S, Johansen TA, Ruud BO, Wuestefeld A and Oye V (2023) Simultaneous tracking of multiple whales using two fiber-optic cables in the Arctic. Front. Mar. Sci. 10:1130898. DOI=10.3389/fmars.2023.1130898
  • 14. Running rats and healing hearts

    33:51
    In 1998, a young Norwegian exercise physiologist found that a technique he had used to help Olympic athletes could help heart patients too. But his idea made doctors sweat. One famous cardiologist told him that if he used his technique in human heart attack patients, he "would kill them."Today's show looks at what happened when our researcher, Ulrik Wisløff, defied the experts — and built a career learning how high intensity interval training can help everyone from heart patients and ageing Baby Boomers, and possibly even Alzheimer's patients — but not in the way you might think!Our guests on today's show are Ulrik Wisløff, Dorthe Stensvold and Atefe Tari.Here's a link to a rat on a treadmill photo.Here's a list of some of the research mentioned in the podcast, with links:Wisløff U, Helgerud J, Kemi OJ, Ellingsen O. Intensity-controlled treadmill running in rats: VO(2 max) and cardiac hypertrophy. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2001 Mar;280(3):H1301-10.Wisløff U, Støylen A, Loennechen JP, Bruvold M, Rognmo Ø, Haram PM, Tjønna AE, Helgerud J, Slørdahl SA, Lee SJ, Videm V, Bye A, Smith GL, Najjar SM, Ellingsen Ø, Skjaerpe T. Superior cardiovascular effect of aerobic interval training versus moderate continuous training in heart failure patients: a randomized study. Circulation. 2007 Jun 19;115(24):3086-94. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.106.675041. Epub 2007 Jun 4.Øivind Rognmo, Trine Moholdt, Hilde Bakken, Torstein Hole, Per Mølstad, Nils Erling Myhr, Jostein Grimsmo and Ulrik Wisløff. Cardiovascular Risk of High- Versus Moderate-Intensity Aerobic Exercise in Coronary Heart Disease Patients Circulation. 2012;126:1436-1440. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.123117Stensvold D, Viken H, Steinshamn S L, Dalen H, Støylen A, Loennechen J P et al. Effect of exercise training for five years on all cause mortality in older adults—the Generation 100 study: randomised controlled trial BMJ 2020; 371 :m3485 Tari AR, Nauman J, Zisko N, Skjellegrind HK, Bosnes I, Bergh S, Stensvold D, Selbæk G, Wisløff U. Temporal changes in cardiorespiratory fitness and risk of dementia incidence and mortality: a population-based prospective cohort study. Lancet Public Health. 2019 Nov;4(11):e565-e574.Tari AR, Berg HH, Videm V, Bråthen G, White LR, Røsbjørgen RN, Scheffler K, Dalen H, Holte E, Haberg AK, Selbaek G, Lydersen S, Duezel E, Bergh S, Logan-Halvorsrud KR, Sando SB, Wisløff U. Safety and efficacy of plasma transfusion from exercise-trained donors in patients with early Alzheimer's disease: protocol for the ExPlas study. BMJ Open. 2022 Sep 6;12(9):e056964.
  • 13. Wax, wood and CO2

    24:33
    Three tons of wax. A 4-story office building made almost entirely of wood. And putting CO2 to work instead of letting it heat up the planet: Scientists and engineers across the globe are harnessing unlikely materials to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Today's show looks at how a zero-emissions office building combines integrated solar panels, heat pumps and a huge vat of wax to heat and power the structure, with enough left over to sell. We'll also look at highly efficient heat pumps using CO2 as the stuff inside that makes it work. They're spreading worldwide, and can be found everywhere from inside your Volkswagen ID electric car to the Large Hadron Collider. And also — at a hotel in Hell, Norway, where electricity use was cut by 70 per cent — without making a pact with the devil!Our guests on today's show are Tore Kvande and Armin Hafner.There's a video on Professor Hafner's work at CERN here, and more about CoolCERN, here.Find a related podcast episode here.Read more:Nocente, A, Time, B, Mathisen, H.M, Kvande, T & Gustavsen, A: The ZEB Laboratory: the development of a research tool for future climate adapted zero emission buildings. 8th International Building Physics Conference. J. Phys.: Conf. Ser. 2021, Vol 2069, Article no. 012109Sevault A., Næss E., Active latent heat storage using biowax in a central heating system of a ZEB living lab; Proc. of the 14th IIR-Gustav Lorentzen Conf. on Natural Refrigerants - GL2020. Internat. Inst. of Refrig. 2020 ISBN 978-2-36215-040-1. s.493-498, doi.org/10.18462/iir.gl.2020.1146 (Published online 7 December 2020)Pardiñas, Ángel Á.; Jokiel, Michael; Schlemminger, Christian; Selvnes, Håkon; Hafner, Armin. (2021) Modeling of a CO2‐based integrated refrigeration system for supermarkets. Energies. vol. 14:6926 (21).Barroca, Pierre, Armin Hafner, Bart Verlaat, Paolo Petagna, Wojciech Hulek, Lukasz Zwalinski, Pierre Hanf, Michele Battistin, Loic Davoine, and Daniella Teixeira. 2021. "An Ultra-Low Temperature Transcritical R744 Refrigeration System for Future Detectors at CERN LHC" Applied Sciences 11, no. 16: 7399. https://doi.org/10.3390/app11167399
  • 11. Getting to Net Zero

    21:37
    We all know that climate change is real and that we have to do something about it. In today's podcast extra episode, we go behind the scenes at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and talk to Anders Hammer Strømman, who was one of the lead authors for their latest report, released in April this year. Anders is a professor at NTNU's Industrial Ecology Programme where he has specialized in Life Cycle Assessment and Environmental input-output analysis, which are tools that enable us to understand the real environmental costs of the goods and materials we use in everyday life.We talk about why cutting carbon emissions quickly is a little like skiing up a big mountain, how battery companies need to come clean when it comes to how they make their products, why some version of a home office could be good for the planet, and why your individual choices can actually make a difference.  And we talk about why Anders is optimistic and thinks we can make this shift — even though the governments of the world have been slow to act. Anders encouraged me (and by extension, you, my listeners) to look at the entire report (nearly 3000 pages — not 3675 as I say in the podcast!) but that's probably more than most of us have time for. You can look at the chapter that Anders was lead author on, on Transport, here (the link will start a pdf download). You can read an even more condensed version of the WG III report and its major findings here. The bottom line is that we CAN make this happen! Thanks this week for help from Ole Marius Ringstad, who did the sound design for the episode. Stay tuned for an update about next season, coming in the autumn.
  • 10. The Alchemists: Turning wild water into white coal

    31:11
    The secrets behind how Norwegian scientists and engineers harnessed the country’s wild waterfalls by developing super efficient turbines — and how advances in turbine technology being developed now may be the future in a zero-carbon world. They include an engineer who figured out how to take advantage of national fervour and build the 1900s equivalent of a super computer, a WWII resistance fighter who saw something special in tiny temperature differences, and researchers today, who are finding ways to cut environmental impacts from current hydropower plants and craft the designs we need to confront climate change.The guests on today's show were Ole Gunnar Dahlhaug, Vera Gütle and Johannes Kverno, with cameo appearances by Hans Otto Frøland and Svein Richard Brandtzæg.You can read an article written to accompany the podcast, with photographs from the lab here There's also an online photo gallery with a brief history of the Waterpower Laboratory here.You can read more about some of the research being done at the lab here:HydroFlex: The HydroFlex project is a four year long, € 5.4 million research project financed through EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, coordinated by Ole Gunnar Dahlhaug and based at NTNU’s Waterpower Laboratory. The aim of the project is to increase the value of hydro power through increased flexibility in operations.Stojkovski, Filip; Lazarevikj, Marija; Markov, Zoran; Iliev, Igor; Dahlhaug, Ole Gunnar. (2021) Constraints of Parametrically Defined Guide Vanes for a High-Head Francis Turbine. Energies. vol. 14 (9).Gütle, Vera. (2021) How to avoid gas supersaturation in the river downstream from a hydropower plant. MSc thesis.
  • 9. The Detectives: Hunting toxic chemicals in the Arctic

    23:33
    Baby grey seals. Polar bears. Zooplankton on painkillers. How do toxic chemicals and substances end up in Arctic animals — and as it happens, native people, too? Our guests on today's show are Bjørn Munro Jenssen, an ecotoxicologist at NTNU, Jon Øyvind Odland, a professor of global health at NTNU and a professor of international health at UiT —The Arctic University of Norway, and Ida Beathe Øverjordet, a researcher at SINTEF.One of the most useful websites on arctic pollution is the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, AMAP. Rachel Carson's book is Silent Spring.Here's a selection of articles from today's episode:Sørmo, E.G., Salmer, M.P., Jenssen, B.M., Hop, H., Bæk, K., Kovacs, K.M., Lydersen, C., Falk-Petersen, S., Gabrielsen, G.W., Lie, E. and Skaare, J.U. (2006), Biomagnification of polybrominated diphenyl ether and hexabromocyclododecane flame retardants in the polar bear food chain in Svalbard, Norway. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 25: 2502-2511. https://doi.org/10.1897/05-591RBourgeon, Sophie; Riemer, Astrid Kolind; Tartu, Sabrina; Aars, Jon; Polder, Anuschka; Jenssen, Bjørn Munro; Routti, Heli Anna Irmeli. (2017) Potentiation of ecological factors on the disruption of thyroid hormones by organo-halogenated contaminants in female polar bears (Ursus maritimus) from the Barents Sea. Environmental Research. vol. 15Nuijten, RJM; Hendriks, AJ; Jenssen, Bjørn Munro; Schipper, AM. (2016) Circumpolar contaminant concentrations in polar bears (Ursus maritimus) and potential population-level effects. Environmental Research. vol. 151.Chashchin, Valery; Kovshov, Aleksandr A.; Thomassen, Yngvar; Sorokina, Tatiana; Gorbanev, Sergey A.; Morgunov, Boris; Gudkov, Andrey B.; Chashchin, Maxim; Sturlis, Natalia V.; Trofimova, Anna; Odland, Jon Øyvind; Nieboer, Evert. (2020) Health risk modifiers of exposure to persistent pollutants among indigenous peoples of Chukotka. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH). vol. 17 (1).
  • 8. Hermann Göring’s Luftwaffe and the $6 billion deal

    28:20
    How the unlikely combination of WWII Germany, a modest English engineer who created a worker’s paradise, an ambitious industrialist prosecuted as a traitor and a hardworking PhD helped build modern Norway, one aluminium ingot at a time.Today's guests are Hans Otto Frøland, Svein Richard Brandtzæg and Randi Holmestad. Frøland is one of the researchers working in the Fate of Nations project, which is based at NTNU and focused on the global history and political economy of natural resources. To see archival photographs related to the episode, check out this companion article in Norwegian SciTech News.You can read more about the history of aluminium in Norway here:From Warfare to Welfare: Business-Government Relations in the Aluminium Industry (2012) Frøland, Hans Otto; Ingulstad, MatsAkademika ForlagFrøland, Hans Otto; Kobberrød, Jan Thomas. (2009) The Norwegian Contribution to Göring's Megalomania. Norway's Aluminium Industry during World War II. Cahiers d'histoire de l'aluminium. vol. 42-43.Frøland, Hans Otto. (2007) The Norwegian Aluminium Expansion Program in the Context of European integration, 1955-1975. Cahiers d'histoire de l'aluminium.Gendron, Robin S.; Ingulstad, Mats; Storli, Espen. (2013) Aluminum Ore: The Political Economy of the Global Bauxite Industry. University of British Columbia Press. 2013. ISBN 978-0-7748-2533-7.
  • 7. Pirates, noblewomen and bicycling housewives

    32:05
    Why does Norway always rank among the top countries on the planet when it comes to gender equality? It didn't happen by accident. Instead, it took powerful medieval noblewomen, 19th century farmers’ wives, an early 20th century activist on a bicycle, and the feminists who emerged from the postwar baby boom. And yes, there is one Viking woman — but she’s not quite what you might think.Our guests on today's show are Randi Bjørshol Wærdahl, Kari Melby and Marie-Laure Olivier.You can read more about Gunnhild the Viking woman on this Wikipedia page about her.There's also a comprehensive entry about Fredrikke Marie Qvam on Wikipedia.Read more:Wærdahl, Randi Bjørshol.2019: "Manndtz Nature vdj hindis hiertte" - Kvinner i krig og konflikt i nordisk senmiddelalder (Women in war and conflict in the Nordic late Middle Ages (in Norwegian). Collegium Medievale 2019 (2) s. 95-111Kari Melby, Anna-Birte Ravn, Christina Carlsson Wetterberg (eds.), Gender equality and welfare politics in Scandinavia. The limits of political ambition? The Policy Press, Bristol, 2008 Melby, Kari. (2006) Niels Finn Christiansen, Klaus Petersen, Nils Edling & Per Haave (eds.): The Nordic Model of Welfare - a Historical Reappraisal. Historisk Tidsskrift (Norge). vol. 85 (4).