Skal oljen stadig være redningen?

“Noe er nødt til å skje for at vi skal beholde ungdommene i landsdelen” var utsagnet til en av ordførerne fra Lofoten og vesterålen-området som stod på trykk i Adressa i dag. Flere av dem krever nå en konsekvensutredning i forhold til oljeboring i disse områdene, med håp om at en utbygging av oljevirksomhet der skal skape arbeidsplasser og redde områdene fra fraflytting og “begubbing”.

Som politikere fra Nord-Norge har jeg stor forståelse for at de leter etter måter å skape arbeidsplasser. Min første reaksjon på denne meningsytringen var imidlertid at hvis ingenting annet har klart å holde ungdommen i utkantstrøkene, så vil i hvert fall ikke oljebring være nok til å snu problemet. Det er svært urealistisk å tro at dette vil skape en stor forandring i det Nord-Norske samfunnet annet enn for en liten sektor. Det er også på tide å ta innover seg at troen på at oljen stadig skal løse alle våre problemer begynner å gå ut på dato.

Vi må snart forberede oss på en virkelighet hvor vi ikke kan belage oss på at oljen skal spille en stor rolle for den norske velferden. Den er en ufornybar ressurs, og vi merker en stor nedgang i utvinningen allerede. Det å stadig håpe å kunne utnytte nye områder er ikke en langsiktig løsning. Spesielt ikke når områdene både er svært sårbare og uten særlig store forekomster. Har vi ikke lært noe av katastofeutslippene i Mexicogulfen?

Vi må heller begynne å tenke på andre løsninger. Disse løsningene vil ikke ble drevet fram dersom vi ikke setter våre ressurser inn på å finne dem. Ressursene vil ikke bli ledet i riktig retning om vi bare skal fokusere på å stadig finne nye områder som vi kan skrape den siste oljen opp fra. Og når vi da til slutt møter en virkelighet uten olje – hvordan skal vi da takle den når vi ikke har klart å forberede oss?

Er det virkelig slik at det ikke fins noe å lokke folk til å bli værende på hjemstedet med om ikke man har olje? Hva gjør da andre plasser som må klare seg uten denne ressursen? Kanskje er det på tide å tenke konstruktivt og finne andre løsninger og satsingsområder som gjør det spennende å være ung og bosette seg i grisgrendte strøk? Kanskje man skal tørre å satse, ta steget videre og være enda mer nyskapende og framtidsrettet enn det man har vært hittil? For uansett om oljen kommer til å vare i ti eller femti år til, vil den likevel ta slutt før eller siden, og da vil ikke fraflyttingen ha blitt unngått – bare utsatt. Ogdet er det ikke verdt å risikere uvurderlig natur for.

Konsekvensutredning burde ikke være nødvendig, for det å åpne disse områdene for oljeboring burde ikke være et alternativ. Ved å gjøre det, gjør vi oss selv en bjørnetjeneste ved å la oss bli enda mer avhengig av olje.

The World Society – where are we headed?

“There is no time like the present” is a saying which I am extremely fond of in general, but also especially today, when I try to widen it’s scope. There is really no time like the present, and I am utterly convinced that today,  and in this time and this age, is the most exciting time to be a human being. And with that I mean that I am certain that during the history of man, it has never been more thrilling or exhilarating to be a part of the human society than right now. Why? Because the world has never undergone more changes than right now. The level of changes that our known society has undergone during the last decades, and the rapid rate of these changes, is essentially mindblowing. Just the fact that we can talk about a global society in a way that was unthinkable fifty years ago, is incredible.

These changes that are so fundamental, makes it both extremely interesting and challenging to try to understand society and work with the social sciences. That’s because for the first time, or at least so I get the impression of, we have no idea where we are headed (and by “we”, I mean the industrialised and global society, the sense of “us” as the world).

During the last five hundred years or so, “our” western society has undergone massive changes, but all these changes have been moving in a certain direction. This direction can be called the modern project. It has contributed to the industrialization of the society, increased specialization, enlightenment and a general increase in welfare. But most importantly, it has created a sense of meaning, a belief in development and science, and a belief in people’s power over their own situation and orientation in the world. In short words: Progress. And progress has been the modern world’s mantra for as long as any of us can remember.

However, many things that used to be clear to us is now becoming obscure. From the 70’s and onward, there have been a lot of changes that define the society in different ways. Social scientists don’t agree with what it is, although it has been given many names, like the postindustrial society, the postmodern society, the network society, the highmodern, the service society or the knowledgebased society. Like the names suggests, this indicates a development that has moved beyond the industrial production based society. Some says it in its essence even has become something else than “modern”. Instead of things, we (seem to) value knowledge, and instead of factory working, we work in service sectors. The institutions that once used to dictate our conduct have lost much of their meaning. Religion has become a private matter, and secularization has had an overall increase. Our families are no longer made up of two parents and two children, but entails a long list of half siblings, step parents, adopted kids, same-sex partners, co-habitations and separations. Individualization and globalization is two key terms to this development.

Individualization is essentially made up with the ideal that you rule your own destiny. Instant satisfaction is sought after, and you seek maximum profits for minimum input. It’s also a matter of putting your own interests first, instead of trying to live up to other people’s expectations. And ultimately, it’s the idea that you create your own identity on the identity market, using a.o. physical markers to show who you “are”.

Globalization means that the world has become a smaller place, that the world members have easier ways of communicating, and that the world market transmits wares and goods to all corners of the world. Large corporations become international, and people easily migrate across borders in search for employment and better life conditions. This also means that the world is more intergrated and dependent on each other. It can make the world a more vulnerable place, because the effects of a catastrophe in one country can be felt by other countries on the other side of the globe.

The renowned sociologist Ulrich Beck called this the Risk Society. We have moved on from the form of society where nature catastrophes were the worst humans had to handle. Now, we may be exposed to bigger catastrophes, catastrophes that are caused by humans and may be irreversible. Humans have gotten to possess so much power that we can create things we can’t control. We have the power to extinguish our own planet, let alone animal species and ecosystems. Coupled with this immense power is a decrease in the belief in progress as our societies become more prosperous as ever. The belief in the scientific project has reached a decline. Pathways that once seemed very straightforward and cut-out, isn’t as clear any more. Of course, for some countries that still faces big challenges in educating it’s people, dealing with epidemics, settling conflicts and creating good infrastructure and a balanced economical system, this has still not become an issue. But for the rest of us, who has got these things under fairly good control, comes eventually the question: What is humanity to do? How is the future looking? And where shall we concentrate our efforts?

It is becoming more and more evident now that progress in the meaning of increased production and increased consumption is a downward spiral. The amount of consumption that the western world has become used to is not sustainable. The economic crisis that started a couple of years ago, and the instability that has lead big parts of Europe into unemployment shows just that. We make up money that doesn’t exist, and sooner or later it will all crack. Optimism has been replaced with realism. And the reality is that humanity and the world we occupate is more fragile than ever. We have environmental issues that threaten to collapse on us if we don’t decide on a choice of action. And in all this we find individual people whose lives are no longer cut out for them. The endless list of choices we all have to take every day can be overwhelming for many of us. The world is at the same time both more integrated and more fragmented. There is no right and no wrong, because there is no longer a certain path that we are expected to take.

I am not a pessimist. I’m not an optimist either, but I think our time is exciting. It’s exciting as hell. And that’s what makes me love social sciences. One thing is certain: the development over the last decades has brought challenges that our old ways of thinking don’t provide a solution for. This is a new time, and we make it. So: What will be the World Society’s choice of action? What will our future be?

New years: Crossroads

These days’ theme:

Adrian Lux – Teenage Crime – Radio Edit

It’s 2011. A lot of things are happening right now (or, not happening), after 3,5 years of blissful routine and steadiness in Trondheim. So, this new year calls for some straightening up in my own thinking, and it’s time to write these concerns down in order to do that.

First a short recap of november and december 2010:
I finished my bachelor in sociology and psychology with a bam, and wrote a bachelor thesis about check-up-culture that both myself and my teachers were satisfied with. I also met my dream guy whilst finishing this thesis, and luckily for me, he liked me back. He’s now my wonderful boyfriend, and continues every day to be the best thing that has happened to me for a long time. I am, in that concern, very happy.

The plan for spring 2011 was fairly simple: work, earn money, and go for a travel. Then move to Oslo to continue studies in the fall.

Well. Work hasn’t been giving me much to do lately, and I find myself working a lot less than I was originally hoping for. That puts me in a difficult situastion. I could either apply for a temporary second job in Trondheim, doing some easy, low-paid labour that doesn’t have anything to do with my education, so that I can still earn some money; OR I could try to find some more relevant work to do on a more permanent basis in Oslo. That would include moving all my things and my life to a new city many months before plan. A third option would be to apply the for the state’s study loan and take up more subjects to get an income. That option was very much not what I had in mind, since the point of this semester was to have a study-free break to do things I wanted to do before enrolling on a new study program. And I dislike the idea of getting into more loan just to take subjects to pass the time; subjects that may be won’t do anything for my carreer anyway.

So, it seems the best option is to move. The desicion mostly governed by concern over money, and I really, really hate worrying about money. But normally I embrace change, and I have been ready to move from Trondheim for a while now. It’s just that for the first time, I actually have somebody worth staying for, someone I have only just discovered, and who I want to spend every minute with. And now I have to move? It just doesn’t seem fair. I find myself having to grow up way faster than I wanted.

Well, I’ve spent the first week of 2011 being sick and vomiting, and doing nothing useful. The few shifts I have in january is far from enough to keep me occupied these days. I’m getting used to doing little, and at the same time I’m getting increasingly restless. And although I have plans to fill up my free time with all the things that I wanted to do during the last year, like reading books  I choose myself, knitting, drawing, playing music and being creative; all this new free time confuses me so that I don’t know what to begin with, and when I do something, I feel it’s a waste of time because it’s not “productive”. I mean, what do people do on their free time?

But it ends now, with this post. I will make a schedule, and do things. I will not waste this opportunity to do things I want to. And, hopefully, in a few weeks, I will know more about what will happen. Whether my work situation is improving, whether I get a positive response to the other jobs I’ve applied for, and whether I can plan the future months well enough to at least book a short trip somewhere, even though it won’t be the same two-months-long trip I envisaged during last fall (because, after losing so much income, I won’t be able to afford it any longer). Bah.

Things need to happen. Soon.