Category Archives: Okategoriserade

Bon Voyage!

Hej, hej!

As some of you might have realized, I was quite inactive latey – at least on this blog. In real life I was actually extremely busy. While I was waiting for the result of my master thesis, I tried to start the process of metamorphosis  from student to working life. Let me tell you that it has been a scary half year with many emotional ups and downs.

However, I was really lucky and have started two extremely interesting and challenging jobs now, one as a research assistant and one as a course coordinator. Together with my colleague and friend Friedi I am actually organizing the CEMUS course I have taken myself last year. Working at CEMUS is a real pleasure. It is such an inspiring place and I hope I can welcome some of you in our course next semester!

At GEDB (Global Economic Dynamics and the Biosphere), a research program at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, I work on a project on antibiotic resistances together with an ecologist. This is extremely challenging, but also exciting for me. Conducting research in an interdisciplinary team is something special and very rewarding. It’s astonishing how during every small talk I am learning something new.

So as some of you might guess, this post is meant to say “Adieu” and to thank you all for reading and sending me questions. If you are about to start your studies I want to welcome you to SLU and Uppsala already: I think you’ve made a great choice. If you are already studying here (or elsewhere) and you are afraid about the future: Don’t stress. No really: DO NOT STRESS!!! Enjoy your study time and look forward to thrilling departures into the real life.

Hopefully someone will take over this blog after the summer and keep you posted about student life in Uppsala. Although I often did not invest the amount of time I aspired to, I have really enjoyed writing this blog – and I pray that a few of you enjoyed reading it 😀 There are many more things that I have planned for the future, one of them being another blog. It is a cooperation with two fellow graduates and still in its infancy, but it will deal – in one way or another – with economics and sustainability. This will be the domain, so if you want to, please pay us a visit, we will soon get started!

Another big thanks to all of you. I wish you all the best for your future and hope to see many of you in Uppsala!

Ha det så bra!

Franzi

 

Little Easter Update/ Interesting Autumn Course

Happy Easter! Or “glad påsk” as they say here in Sweden. We are lucky enough to enjoy at least a little bit of sun in Uppsala today, but it is not really Spring yet 🙁

I wanted to take the opportunity to remind all of you that the late course application for the autumn term closes in two days. So if you haven’t decided which courses you want to take in the fall you should do that soon. I warmly recommend everybody who is interested in a critical perspective on economics to apply for The Global Economy – Environment, Development and Globalisation (Swedish name: Den globala ekonomin – miljö, utveckling och globalisering) at CEMUS. I wrote about this course on my blog before and I am working with it myself this year. It’s going to be awesome! You can find more course information, as well as an application link here!

Of course, you can find all other autumn courses on antagning (universityadmissions) as well. Enjoy your Sunday!

/Franzi

Look what my roomie made again <3

Earth Hour 2017

“Together for the climate” (Source: WWF Sweden)

Just a really really quick reminder: Tonight from 8:30 to 9:30 is this year’s Earth hour. To save some symbolic energy and  emissions and set a sign against climate change, millions  of people all around the globe turn off their lights.

Get more info about the Earth hour here!

/Franzi

Climate Change and 2 Degrees: Is the Parisian Emperor Naked?

Last Thursday Prof. Kevin Anderson held an open lecture on the Paris agreement. As the title – obviously inspired by H. C. Andersen’s short tale – suggested, he took the audience to an expedition looking for substance in the Paris agreement. As usual, Kevin spoke his mind claiming that the emperor is indeed naked, but that there had not been a child to speak up yet: Climate policy is really nothing more than hot air.

1, 2, 3 – What degree will it be?

The 2°C scenario is not some kind of optimal degree of warming, but a political goal on the threshold to dangerous climate change, fine-tuned to political and economic sensibility. While the agreement on a target itself is quite positive, “Paris” contains too many flaws, like the missing references to shipping, aviation or even fossil fuel combustion. Many of the percentage reduction goals in carbon emissions as set out for 2030 or 2050 just don’t matter. Kevin highlighted that these kinds of goals cover up what truely counts: carbon budgets. Continued emission of carbon, we will have used up the complete “budget” for the 1.5°C target within the next 3-13 years. The more CO2 we release now, the stricter future reductions will need to be. According to Kevin’s assessment, the current INDCs (Intended National Determined Contributions) equate to rather 3 to 4°C of warming than to 2°C.

Paris goals and energy

Looking at energy consumption gets quite depressing. Technological progress is unlikely to suffice for the required changes in energy demand, especially when taking behavioral effects, like the rebound, into account. Even on the supply side massive electrification is necessary to be able to move towards renewable energy production. Kevin named nuclear power as one example of a low carbon source. Currently it only meets about 2.5% of global energy demand. If one was to raise this share to 25%, there would be a need for 3000 (!) nuclear power plants worldwide. To put this in perspective: today there are around 430 nuclear power stations and about 70 are under construction right now. Even if we want to switch to renewable energies, this will be a Herkulean task.

The “magic trick” of climate policy

What is really necessary to stick to the Paris agreement is a 10% (rather 12% for the developed countries) yearly emission reduction starting now, i.e. zero emissions by 2035. What the EU suggested was a reduction by 40% by 2030. This goal is basically half of what is needed and it was set by the probably most ambitious countries. The attentive reader will now wonder what is supposed to happen to the other half of the emissions. Well, the answers are two fancy acronyms: NETs and BECCS. Negative emission technologies and biomass energy with carbon capture and storage. I will try to elaborate on this further in another blog post, but basically these are technologies which shall suck emitted carbon back from the atmosphere. They have however never worked at scale so far. Also are they inefficient and require massive areas of land. These technologies are the “magic trick” within the model forecasts, because the possibility of their actual implementation is highly questionable.

So what to do?

While the to-do list is infinitely long, Kevin claims that climate change demands system change. We need to fundamentally question our norms and paradigms: higher, further, better. While I agree with Kevin to a certain extent, his general and ubiquitous criticism of economic growth is far too generalized. I am thinking about decoupling growth from resources here, for example. However, Kevin’s most important direct action points are (1) large scale electrification, (2) a sustainable way to produce biofuels and (3) to leave the so-called “unconventionals” (e.g. oil sands) in the ground. For Sweden particularly, Kevin suggests the following list:

  • higher efficiency standards
  • a broad renewable energy program
  • a low-meat diet
  • extended lifetimes of nuclear plants
  • a shift from cars to public transport
  • an upgraded rail networks (especially faster trains)
  • carbon capture and storage for steel and cement production

All necessary facts about climate change have been on the table since the first IPCC report in 1990, but mankind has lacked the courage to take the crucial steps. And we still are. What a sad truth.

If you are interested in climate change you can find a summary of another lecture held by Kevin Anderson here! Also, I would really like to hear your opinions on this. Please leave a comment if you feel like it!

Take care and think twice before booking the next flight or ordering a steak! 😉

/Franzi

UltiMat Ultuna – Part 2

Hej allihoppa!

Last Monday was the pick-up date for the January food orders at UltiMat, so here comes the second part of the experience!

After studying at SLU during the day on Monady I went to pick up my order in Ulls Hus between 5 and 6 in the afternoon. I think that is about the same time always. You can pay your order in advance by transfering the money. Otherwise you can also swish or pay in cash (If you have the exact amount) when you pick it up.

There were quite some people there and the food was all nicely set up. You could even try out some products (cheese, mhhhh…). I got a list with the things I ordered and then I walked around to collect everything. I bought eggs, honey, garlic, kohlrabi (turnip cabbage), flour and several types of beetroots. I was a little disappointed, because I ordered mixed kohlrabi, but then only got one of one type. My favorite pick was definitely the honey. I recently had honey from a farm in Björklinge, which lies about 20 km North of Uppsala. A friend of mine who was wwoofing over there in September gave me this honey and I really loved it. So I was secretly hoping the one they have at UltiMat would be as good. And guess what: it was actually that exact honey I got! Yeay! I also think that compared to the local or regional honeys in the supermarket it was very reasonably priced (50 SEK).

Beyond are two creations with the beets: (1) A kind of beet-slaw with hering, apple and dill and (2) a dip/ sandwich spread with feta cheese, garlic, red beets and cumin (A half is gone already). 🙂

          

What I really appreciate is that UltiMat has started sending out information about the board meetings to all members. Also they announced to add more information about the producers on their website. You can also find more info and some pictures on UltiMat’s facebook page!

I hope some of you got interested and want to try ordering as well. I’m sure I’ll do it again.

Thanks for reading and have a nice evening!

/Franzi

The Småland Transition

I still can’t believe it, but about two weeks ago I wrote my last exam. I’m not gonna lie to you: it’s an amazing feeling and a great relief to have all the “course work” done. Apart from that I am really excited about working on my master thesis for the next months. While it is a little scary it is also a totally different way of working and THE final spurt, of course.

To celebrate being exam-free and to make the transition towards the thesis mind-set, me and some friends went to a cabin in Småland in Southern Sweden last week. It was a great decision. We worked on our theses a few hours every day and spent the rest of the time out in the forest and in the sauna. I always tend to forget how purifying and recovering nature can be. Now I feel super relaxed and ready to focus on my thesis project, which by the way deals with behavioral effects in the choice of transportation modes, broadly spoken.

Here are some pictures from Småland (credit to Johanna T. for all of them):

UltiMat Ultuna – Part 1

Tjena! [That’s how the reeeaaaally cool kids say hi ;-)]

Today I am finally trying out something I have been looking forward to for weeks: UltiMat Ultuna!

What Is UltiMat Ultuna

UltiMat (swedish “mat” = “food”) is the student union’s non-profit food cooperative. Once a month you can order food from local farmers and you pick it up on the SLU campus. Apart from that UltiMat organizes markets, workshops and field trips to their suppliers I think it’s a great concept and became a member a few months ago, but it was always impossible for me to be here at the pick-up dates. That is why I had to postpone my first order again and again. But “today’s the day I’m gonna make it happen…”

How Does It Work

As this is my first order I am definitely not an expert yet, but it seems super easy. First you have to become a member by seding an email. Be aware that when you first order, you have to pay a membership fee of 25 SEK. After you have signed up you receive a monthly  email with a link to a google document, where you can place your order. The email also tells you the pick-up date and time (~2 weeks later). Then all you need to do is to pay for your order and go pick it up.

What Do They Sell

As far as I know the selection of food varies over the seasons. Right now, they have different sorts of flour, peas, eggs, oats, potatoes, beets, onions, raddish, etc. but also lamb, beef and many different types of cheese on their list.

I am really looking forward to trying this out and I will write a second post once I receive the food! If you are interested in UltiMat, you can find more information in Swedish and English on their website.

Have a great day, everybody!

/Franzi

 

 

 

Jubilee: 25 years of Cemus!

Uppsala’s Center for Sustainable Development, a collaboration between SLU and UU, started the celebrations for its 25th anniversary today. Bengt Gustafsson, professor in astrophysics and one of the supporting founders of Cemus, gave a lecture on the history of the center and the future challenges of sustainability.

While during the 1970s there were already several attempts to start centers for interdisciplinary studies, it took another two decades before students succeeded in establishing the first student-driven course at Cemus. That course was called “Man and Nature” (1992) and attracted more than 500 applications. Cemus was born and has been established over at least 10 generations of students – unfortunately as Bengt remarked “sustainability is a sustainable issue”.

Thus he devoted the second part of his lecture to future problems and challenges. He talked about many issues that concern the Anthropocene (the age of significant human impact on our planet). Some of them like digitalization, globalization or ecosystems are more obvious, but he mentioned things like world views, religion and moral as well. While I agree that a shift from collectivism towards individualism can be seen (at least in many of the Westernized cultures), I think that the Internet was judged a little too hard. Although censorship and surveillance are huge problems in many countries, the World Wide Web allows for tremendous steps in democratization processes or in improvements of certain human rights (such as education). An interesting approach Bengt talked about was the transformation of pilgrims to tourists; the former aiming to see a certain destination and learn about it and the latter more or less walking the Earth blindly. This is obviously too simplified, yet it contains a grain of truth.

What I really liked about Bengt was that he was trying to convince us to shed some hope. He kept coming back to the famous three Japanese apes and the premise that scientists need to see the evil, or bad. It’s their obligation to look at it and to do something about it. While I think this should not only hold for scientists, but for all of us, it was really great to include it in the lecture. Bengt finished off with a few recommendations, three of which I want to share: (1) see and report truthfully, (2) keep up the dialogue with other people and with your own conscience and (3) provide hope for those who have none.

Thanks to Bengt for a really nice talk and some interesting thoughts!

 

Have a good week everybody,

Franzi

Your Plate. Our Planet – The Future of Food

This is a day I have wanted to write about all along, but I didn’t have the time. So may I introduce – with a big fat delay: the Nobel Week Dialogue in Stockholm.

The event is held every year within the scope of the Nobel price, this particular one was on 9 December 2016. It was the first time I visited this dialogue, which aims to bring together science and society. A good timing, I think, as the topic “The Future of Food” was particularly interesting. There were numerous outstanding and renowned experts – among them six Nobel laureates – talking on the issue.

Together with two friends I had signed up for the event weeks in advance, since the number of visitors is limited, of course, and the free tickets “sold” like hot cakes. So on the 9th we took an early train to Stockholm for a fabulous experience.

During the introduction (you could comment or ask questions live using your smartphone), I particularly favored Johan Rockström’s talk. The director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre underlined the importance of scientifically correct positioning of food. He reminded that food production and agriculture are the largest contributors to climate change through high emissions of greenhouse gases, the largest fresh water and land use, as well as a causing major biodiversity loss. He sees the need for a global transition towards a more sustainable food mainstream, which internalizes all externalities (the “real planetary costs”).

Another very impressive person throughout the whole day was Muhammad Yunus. The 2006 Peace Laureate promoted his ideas of social entrepreneurship in different contexts. I have been following up on these issues a bit before, after we had talked about Not-For-Profit businesses in the CEMUS course and I am actually really excited about this problem solving approach. Yunus suggested amusedly that instead of letting banks decide if people are creditworthy, we should ask if the banks are “people worthy”. It was a real pleasure to listen to him.

Many, many issues around food, like the influence of large food corporations, social eating habits, the digitalization of agriculture, initiatives to reduce food waste, etc. were addressed that day. I was a little disappointed about the afternoon panels. We decided to join a panel discussion about whether we can continue to eat meat and one on what it would take to build a sustainable food system. Unfortunately, both questions weren’t really answered. Most of the meat discussion revolved around different production methods and how we can maintain today’s meat consumption habits. Little was said about the possibility of reducing the amount of meat we eat instead.

The day was rounded off more relaxed with a reading by Patti Smith and a talk on creativity and inspiration with the Nobel laureates. Overall it was an amazing experience. Though I didn’t receive the easy answers I was hoping for (but rather many more questions – as always) it was so fun and inspiring.

If you ever have the possibility to be in Stockholm at the right time and you want to be inspired, I can really recommend joining this dialogue.

I wish you all a nice winter weekend!

/Franzi