The Finnish-Swedish geographer and explorer Nordenskjöld was the first to navigate the so-called North-East Passage (in the arctic waters north of Russia)

Nordenskjöld’s ship Vega had a steam engine aside from sails, and set out from Norway on 21 July 1878, heading for Bering’s Strait.

But before reaching Bering’s Strait the ship was frozen in, and had to spend from Sept 1878 until July the next year in the ice.      

On 22 July 1879 the Vega reached Port Clarence in Alaska, so the trip through the NE Passage took one year and one day. The return voyage went via Yokohama, Hongkong, Singapore and Sri Lanka and through the Suez Canal. Vega was back in Stockholm in April 1880.

It was said that the practical results of the voyage at the time were few.

In Aug 2017, two weeks ago, a Russian gas tanker sailed through the NE Passage from Hammerfest in Norway to S Korea, in 19 days.  Obviously without serious problems with the ice.

It is entirely clear that this is made possible by global warming and the melting of the arctic sea ice. It is also clear that the melting continues. “The practical results” this time will possibly be overwhelming.


Friends! 200 years ago the author and ”naturalist” David Henry Thoreau was born. He is mostly remembered for his book about Walden Pond, in Connecticut, USA, and about how he left his village and community to live in a cabin he built by Walden Pond. He immersed himself in Nature, set on  getting to know it and live in respectful harmony with it, without romanticism (it was probably too cold), but with wide-open senses and an eagerness to learn. He wrote a book and he educated America.

Today CNN publishes a thought-provoking story about “The Sixth Extinction” – “Many scientists say it’s abundantly clear that Earth is entering its sixth mass-extinction event, meaning three-quarters of all species could disappear in the coming centuries.”

The main agent and cause here is mankind, and mankind will also be the main victim. 

More to read here: or here

Between these two news snippets – the birth of Thoreau and the awakening to the species extinction – lie 200 years, which is for sure a long time, although short from the viewpoint of species development. But there lies also a gap in terms of “reality check”, outlook or perceptions of our common future that is nothing less than remarkable, if not scary. Only 200 years. Add to this that we are right on this day fed with video footage of the biggest chunk of ice ever breaking lose from the Antarctica ice cap, after the widening of a crack that is more than 120 miles long (that would be almost 200 km, or a bit less than the distance from Gothenburg to my Alma Mater in Lund). A person on the moon would be able to see the spectacle with the naked eye.

This all gives me the feeling that I have to hurry up now. I must go out and take a good look at Nature – and try to put things in perspective, and think over what I myself might do.  This is our mission in  


I have written earlier about the river Whanganui in New Zealand, that was declared a juridical person. (I am looking for follow-up info on what happens there.)

An attempt in India to give the revered rivers Ganges and Yamuna similar status has been turned down by India’s Supreme Court, to reverse a decision by the High Court of Uttarakhand State – where the rivers have their sources. (Both rivers are heavily polluted, and the hope was that with a clear legal status it would be easier to manage the protection of the rivers.)


Once the sky starts falling down there is no way stopping it . . .

How bad is the situation? Well, who knows? Have we got three years? Do you remember the “precautionary principle”? Better play safe . . .

“As 20 leaders of the world’s largest economies gather on 7–8 July (2017) at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, we call on them to highlight the importance of the 2020 climate turning point for greenhouse-gas emissions . . .”  This appeal is sent out by a team of scientists in Nature, 29 June 2017. The danger of the situation is summarised in a diagram where the crunch is: the longer we delay, the harder will it be to return to any kind of normality.

For the past three years, worldwide CO2 emissions from fossil fuels have stayed flat, while the global economy and the gross domestic product (GDP) of major developed and developing nations have grown by at least 3.1% per year.

The numbers in the two diagrams do not quite tally, maybe because they come from different source. The point is that there is some hope, as it seems that the pace of CO2 emission is not accelerating but staying stable, even when the economy is expanding. (Earlier, faster economic growth has meant increased annual emissions.) reports that even if emissions are stabilising, the atmospheric content of CO2 keeps rising. Does that mean that “sponges” such as the sea do not absorb and store as much CO2 as before? What is going on?


Quoting from The Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale

Unprecedented Meeting of World Faith Leaders to take on Global Deforestation Monday, June 19, at the Nobel Peace Center, Oslo, Norway

For the first time, leaders from many of the world’s religions will meet to discuss the spiritual and ethical responsibility they share to protect rainforests, one of the planet’s most vital life-support systems. Besieged by growing global demand for commodities, tropical rainforests are being cleared at a perilous rate, with an area the size of Austria chopped down each year.

The meeting, which will take place in the presence of His Majesty King Harald V of Norway, will discuss how to activate the collective moral influence of religious communities across the planet. Based on sheer numbers, they could prove decisive in protecting the world’s last standing rainforests.

See website

Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish leaders were to participate (no mention of Mammon). Indonesia was to be represented by Abdon Nababan of AMAN.

In the background information reference is made to the Papal Encyclical Laudate Si, of 2015, where the link between environmental concerns and social justice is underlined. The event is probably unique, and a first in that not only religious leaders are participating, but also representatives of indigenous people who inhabit and guard the forests. The intention of the two-day discussions, after the inauguration ceremony on 19 June, is to prepare for a global summit in 2018.

More details here:

(I am looking out for published proceedings of the event. – Although I cannot claim to be a very religious person, I appreciate the effort of Pope Francis to prepare Laudate Si. – When I searched the Bible for references to care and respect for Nature I did not find any, except in Genesis 1 “And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.” That was on the sixth day. Pope John Paul referred to this by saying: if God found it good we should also see it that way – and care for it. I am told that Al Quran contains much more of reference to our duties as steward.  – Having said this I must add that a bird singing his morning hymn makes me feel much closer to my Creator than any sermon by a preacher-man.)


The Guardian (28/6/2017) shows an article with the title “A Million Bottles a Minute”- I suggest you read for yourself:


The global consumption is estimated to reach half a trillion bottles by 2021. By now we all know that many of those bottles reach the sea. Others are dumped on land. And it is not only bottles.  Most of what we buy is wrapped in plastic. Scientists are step by step learning that whether on land or in the sea plastic does not really decompose – it is not, like for example leaves from the trees – converted chemically by organic processes into basic components that loop back into biological life processes. Instead plastic is split up into ever finer particles that eventually become small enough to penetrate living cells and influence the very life processes of plants and of the animals that eat them. It now seems clear that plastic particles are found for example in fish that we eat – how that effects us has become a serious concern. Scientists are not clear on that. There is reason to worry since the use of plastic grows steadily, and since collection and recycling is far from enough to have an impact. It has been estimated that globally in 2016 only 7% of the plastic bottles were recycled, while the rest was dumped in landfills or in the sea.

The islands outside Jakarta are a popular destination among domestic tourists in particular, but also among foreigners, since it only takes a few hours to reach them by speed boat, and since the beaches are friendly. The visitors generate garbage, but most of what is found on the beaches is from elsewhere and has been washed up by the sea. Resort operators are anxious to keep their places neat and clean – of course to attract more visitors. So you may not notice at first. But as soon as you leave the resorts you will find garbage in droves.

You will find piles of plastic among the trees inland also, dumped since there was no other east way to get rid of it.

The Governor of Jakarta has mobilised an “Orange Brigade” to collect and dispose of garbage, and this work is extended to the islands off Jakarta as well. Brigade workers collect garbage – almost entirely plastic – and the volumes are barged once or twice a week to the mainland for dumping in landfills.

Field trips arranged by Naturetrails include visits to villages in rural areas, and Homestay wherever feasible, where we not only can see the situation for ourselves but engage with families and village leadership to improve the situation. As visitors we have to set examples by not leaving garbage behind. But we can also participate in “clean-up operations” with our hosts, and perhaps provide advice on how to improve garbage management.  We can provide garbage cans and suggest collection routines where justified. In remote areas recycling is usually uneconomical unless well organised with support from the district government. Our role there is to demonstrate the importance to tourism of a clean environment.


Who Produces, and Who Benefits?

I read somewhere that in the medieval ages European farmers considered that Nature did the work. Their task as farmers was merely to harvest what nature produced, and for some crops also to plant. This way of looking at natural resource management adds a new aspect to the idea of a “Thanksgiving Day” – which is still celebrated in Swedish churches at the end of the harvest season, with samples of root crops, vegetables, berries etc. placed by the altar. I guess the thinking among the Dayak is similar, when they celebrate their Gawai after the rice harvest.