Monday, August 23, 2010

The Writing Room

Sad days ahead: I have to leave my writing room in a week.

The room is located in Asker, a short stroll from where I live. From the early November days of last year, I have spent hours and hours in this room on the second floor of a charming white wooden house. It used to be a farm house, a kindergarden, now a cultural center (Englagaard) with a gallery, working-rooms for artists, writers, musicians, and the like.

Here is what I like about it: The early mornings when kids walk past the house on their way to school, and the quietness that follows. The atmosphere. The oldness. The faint smell of paint in the room (it used to be a studio), the narrow stairway, and the almost shocking greenness in the garden. Few interuptions, but people to talk to if bored of writing. The generosity of all the other people there. The old window posts, the space.

Still, it's time to move on, the manuscript is almost there. But I hope for a reunion. Soon.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Never ending

I'm working on an upgrade of my book The End is Nigh for the Bulgarian market. It will be published by Perseus Books later this year, and of course an update is desirable. There have been so many disasters lately and millions of people are currently affected.

Earthquakes in Haiti and Chile earlier this year, and the climate/weather-related disasters this summer: Heat wave and increased mortality in Moscow, forest fires, floods in Eastern Europe, China, and Pakistan. This is not unusual if consulting disaster statistics, as major disaster strike every year smaller natural disasters occur every day. Still, the last months have been devastating. 

(Pakistan. Image:

There is only one recipe that will work for reducing the number of deaths and affected people following natural disasters: reduction of vulnerability. Easier said than done, of course. Check out the website for ISDR (International Strategy for Disaster Reduction) for latest news.

Before lower vulnerability in poor countries becomes a reality, the affected countries need assistance, in particular Pakistan. A Pakistani-Norwegian politician in Oslo has said that the apparently low willingness in Norway to donate to the victims in Pakistan is due to skepticism towards Muslims. This type of statements has luckily received little support. If less money is being donated to Pakistan these days compared to during other natural disasters, the solution likely lies elsewhere. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Back from the Bush

Came back from East Siberia a few days ago after three weeks of travelling and fieldwork. Got some great samples of lavas and sediments from the Siberian Traps volcanic province! The picture below was taken from the helicopter.

Barely managed to send off a book review of "Shaky Colonialism" to Reviews in History before heading for Siberia. The book is written by Charles F. Walker and is about the devastating 1746 earthquake that struck Lima, Peru. The review was made for a special issue on environmental history.

Read the review here.