Book – Meine Welt schmilzt | Polarjournal

The book “Meine Welt schmilzt – Wie der Klimawandel mein Dorf verwandelt” (English: My world melts – How climate change transforms my village) by Line Nagell Ylvisäker is an eyewitness account of how climate change has gripped Norway’s northernmost archipelago and is changing life in Longyearbyen and the Arctic. The author herself lives with her family in Longyearbyen and also meets polar bears (right). Picture: Ragnhild Utne

The Arctic is the fastest warming region in the world. The causes and effects of this climate change are the subject of sometimes heated debate in broad circles. But for residents in the Arctic, along with such discussions comes the question of how to deal with the impacts. Whether it’s melting permafrost, weather extremes or changes in animal behaviour: They feel first-hand how progressive warming is changing their lives. Line Nagell Ylvisåker, former journalist, mother and resident of Longyearbyen on Svalbard has written a book about the changes she has experienced. Guest author Stefan Leimer describes his personal impression of the book in this review.

Climate change! Every single person basically knows what it’s all about! While some are foregoing air travel, others are enjoying the increased heat days. But so far only very few feel directly affected.

Mother of two Line Nagell Ylvisaker lives with her family in Longyearbyen, the administrative centre of the Spitsbergen archipelago, which belongs to Norway. Of course, she also knows what global warming means for the world. But it is only when an avalanche buries the neighbour’s house nearby and kills two people that Line begins to take a specific look at global warming and the consequences for her home.

With her two children and her husband, the author often explores the landscape on Svalbard and experiences how their environment is changing due to climate change. An avalanche that claimed the lives of two people in 2015 inspired Line Nagell Yvilsåker to research the topic and publish her findings. Picture: Line Nagell Yvilsåker

The children’s performance on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the International Seed Vault on Spitsbergen becomes a turning point for them. While on stage the little performers are laughing and dancing happily, Line begins to worry about the future of the next generation. “What the hell is happening?” She wants to understand “how the natural processes are connected, how the climate works, how the weather works on the island…” That same evening, she decides to study these questions intensively

She has summarized the answers in the book “Meine Welt schmilzt – wie das Klima mein Dorf verwandelt” (My world is melting – how the climate is transforming my village), published in 2021 (Hoffmann und Campe Verlag; 1st edition 2021 / from the Norwegian by Anne von Canal).

Because avalanches also pose an increased threat near Longyearbyen, the slopes have been secured with protective fences. Nevertheless, there were several avalanches this spring, fortunately without any damage to people or infrastructure.
Picture: Line Nagell Ylvisåker

Living with the weather on Svalbard has always been a challenge. But it was exactly this untamed nature that fascinated Line from the beginning. But in recent years, a series of environmental disasters have shaken the quiet life of Longyearbyen. People are no longer safe in their homes from environmental disasters. The cemetery and church must be protected by a rampart.

Spitsbergen is inevitably affected by climate change. While the UN still warns of the consequences of an average temperature increase of 2°C, the average temperature on Spitsbergen has increased by 5.6°C since 1961. On Svalbard, the temperature rise is three times higher than in Oslo. Compared to the rest of the world, six times higher!

On Svalbard, many countries are conducting research on the effects of climate change. Line Nagell Yvilsåker was also able to accompany the scientists for her book research and thus learn more about the direct impact on the Arctic and Svalbard. Picture: Line Nagell Ylvisåker

With her questions, the young mother turns to knowledgeable meteorologists and proven climate experts and accompanies them in their research on Svalbard. But also an experienced hunter, who has to cope with the inhospitable weather on Svalbard for many years, has his say. “If there’s anyone who knows how to tell about the changes in nature around here, it’s him.”

Line describes the various contexts in a way that is varied and easy to understand even for laypersons. How less snow and ice further promote global warming. How changes in the Gulf Stream will affect the climate along the Norwegian coast. Or how even more greenhouse gases are being released as permafrost thaws.

Upset by her research, Line sells her car and now rides an e-bike in the winter. Paradoxically, the electricity for her new electric bike comes from local coal-fired power. Line has also lost its frequent flyer status. But of course it cannot offer concrete solutions as to how mankind can get to grips with the problem of global warming.

Line Nagell Yvilsåker, born 1982, has lived in Longyearbyen on Svalbard since 2005. From 2006 to 2018, the mother of two and journalism graduate worked at the local newspaper Svalbardposten. Through the research for her book, she has also begun to look at her own climate footprint and change it. Picture: Ragnhild Utne

I really enjoyed the book “My world is melting – how the climate is transforming my village”. The nearly 200 pages read palatable. In some places the German translation stumbles a bit, but that doesn’t detract from the positive overall impression. Even though I’ve read quite a bit on climate change, I’ve only now become aware of some of the connections. The author is guided by concrete figures, but does without climate diagrams, statistics or other tables. Instead, she vividly describes the direct effects of global warming on the lives of the people of Longyearbyen. This is what affects the reader. Thus, Line’s worries about the future become the worries about the future of the unsettled reader.

Stefan Leimer

Product information

Title:Meine Welt schmilzt
Subtitle:Wie der Klimawandel mein Dorf verändert
Author:Line Nagell Yvilsåker
Publisher:Hoffmann and Campe
Size:L21.1cm x W13.1cm x H2.5cm
Language:German, translated from Norwegian by Anne von Canal
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