CICERO 25 years: Anniversary speech
Ladies and Gentlemen - and especially those working at CICERO,
Following a brief, informal introduction in English:
Ever since I was a little boy, the natural world has helped to define how I view myself and who I am. Right now, for example, I would love to be lying on my stomach, out on the sea, feeling the board beneath me as it gains speed from the power of a wave. A few days before this, a strong wind has set the sea in motion, and it is this motion that has travelled hundreds of nautical miles, that you can harness, in this moment, when the wave energy hits the seafloor, at exactly this point, if you time it exactly right. The board stabilises as it gains speed, and you have to try to hoist yourself onto it in a single motion, get your feet in just the right position, turn and ride the wall of the wave. Because that is what gives you your speed and power. At the same time, the foam of the crest keeps chasing you from behind. Just exactly there, riding the wave, if I manage to find my balance and follow the motion, then I feel it. Very clearly. I am part of nature. I am nature.
A quote by Albert Einstein hangs in a small hut, built of rubbish, on a beach in Svalbard. It says: “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
Everyone experiences the feeling of being one with nature at certain points. However, I believe that in our quest for modernity, on one level or another, we have forgotten this most fundamental truth: that we are in fact nature. This may be one reason why we humans have, almost without thinking, set targets for ourselves that miss the mark. Such as when we define development as income per capita and little else. In a short-term perspective. For surely it cannot be true that genuine development disrupts the balance of nature. That true growth deprives our children of opportunities. Surely real development leads to lasting improvement in people’s lives, and real growth entails finding better, more effective solutions that don’t harm other groups or the environment.
To achieve development and growth in the right way, I think three things are especially important:
- First of all, we must look within ourselves and acknowledge that we are a part of nature.
- Secondly, we must obtain knowledge and communicate it in the best possible way. This will give us the basis for taking the best possible decisions at any given point in time.
- Thirdly, we must find the motivation and inspiration to design cool, creative, future-oriented solutions that make our lives better and at the same time can bring us back into balance.
CICERO has an important role to play in this three-part solution.
Last week Mette and I paid a visit to the Lance together with the Minister of Climate and Environment. The Lance is the Norwegian Polar Institute’s research and expedition vessel (but all of you knew that). The ship is on a research expedition in the polar ice at 83 degrees north. It is a powerful experience to stand on the ice and see only ice, as far as the eye can see, for a full 360 degrees. Between 3 000 meters of water and a blue sky lies a thin layer of ice. A little over one metre thick. We walked on it. We have heard that this ice layer is critical for the weather systems, for the temperature, for the balance of nature. But why is it so important that there is one-year ice rather than multi-year ice up north? Why do we need to change the climate models just because the ice is melting? What does all of this – if anything – have to do with people who live near the equator?
Two of CICERO’s main tasks are to conduct research and disseminate information about climate-related issues. High-quality research is essential in order to take the best decisions. The ability to make complex connections understandable is a crucial task as well. Those of you who work at CICERO excel at precisely these tasks, and you have made important contributions in many different contexts. CICERO has taken part in most of the major climate conferences, and you have participated in the Kyoto Protocol process. CICERO researchers have been first authors of IPCC reports and are called on to help to formulate the EUs energy and climate policy. This is an impressive body of work, and it is deserves to be celebrated.
We need talented professionals like you at CICERO to see the connections in this complex subject. Thank you for helping us to understand the climate better.
Congratulations on your 25-year anniversary!