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Say YES to the EU

The animals and the environment are better off with the EU than with today's Norwegian no-side, concludes Steinar Lem in Framtiden in our hands. In his latest book, he breaks with the No side. In Ny Tid you get to know why Norway's most famous environmental face has doubted its way to an EU yes.


Steinar Lem has for many years been the most visible personality in "The future in our hands". He has been a committed public debater who is not afraid to tease people in his fight for a better future and a better environment.

This week he published the essay The little life, where he tries to show in a very personal way that there is a connection between a good environment and a good life. At the same time, the current adviser of the Future in our hands is controversially enough to come out of the closet as an EU supporter

- It's a pretty powerful showdown you take with the no-people?

- The no-side has destroyed its credibility precisely in the area where the yes-side had little to lose – value thinking. The no-side carried the simple idea that there was something other than one's own wallet, which was worth taking care of.

But it turned out that the no-side simply meant nothing with the environment and solidarity. It was pure propaganda. It was lied to uninhibited. What was said was that values ​​should be governing – but it must mean that business interests are at least pushed aside somewhat in the event of a conflict.

- But it has never been the no-side that has ruled power in society, can they be blamed for where Norwegian society stands today?

- The no side is just as obsessed with what is profitable in the very short term, as the yes side. My main argument for saying no was the freedom to reshape Norway. But-no the people have not maintained any vision. On the contrary, in important areas, the EU is more progressive than Norway. Norway suffers from growth madness. Even RVs want cheaper electricity.

Had Norway been a pioneer, EU membership would have been inhibiting. But we have not been a pioneer in the fields that I believe are most important in the long run: environment and solidarity.

It is the no-people's core troops who want to exterminate predators. They are the ones who are planning to turn the few remnants of forest we have into plant fields… They want cheaper flights to the districts, cheaper electricity, oil exploration in the Barents Sea – I see few traces of the will for solidarity that I believed in.

- The no-side is as bad as the yes-side, you say, but still you choose the yes-side. Why?

- We do not get adequate species protection outside the EU. And we need full species diversity. We need earthworms and bumblebees, but we also need predators. One thing is how crucial this is for our experience quality. Another thing is that there are thresholds in nature – if we ignore this, we may find ourselves in self-reinforcing processes, destructions over which we do not want the slightest control.

We cannot manage species diversity on the basis of the everyday life of farmers, or the everyday life of urban people or the everyday life of oil workers. Therefore, we must move the perspective higher up and not least expand our time horizon. But the opposite is happening: short-sightedness prevails. It affects everyone who cannot protect themselves – little kids for whom we make devastating choices, and all those who have not been born yet.

As EU members, we would be required to follow the international commitments we have already made but ignore in practice. For example, the Finns are drawn to the EU court for their wolf license hunt, despite having ten times more animals than Norway, which also launched license hunting. Sweden is shutting down the EU for its bear hunting, even though the Swedes appear to have reached their target of two thousand animals. In Norway, there are probably not as many as fifty bears. The EU Birds Directive is another positive example. As an EU member, Norway will also be pressured to give species and nature better protection.

- Many of your members will be able to feel this as a betrayal?

- It is painful for me to take a yes position, for many reasons. One of them is that the majority of the members of The Future in Our Hands (FIVH) are probably still no-humans.

I feel confident that FIVH has the same spaciousness as SV or Ap, which allows central personalities to have differing opinions. In fact, it can be an advantage that our spaciousness seems in the landscape. And I'm not going to fight yes.

Leaving my previous views is not because I have grown old or suddenly have to pursue real politics. I am not in favor of market liberalism, on the contrary.

And I still do not thrive in yes to the EU company. I do not thrive with large devices, nor with unnecessary remote control. I have relatives in Romsdal and in Sogn, I really enjoy the diversity that is found there both in nature and culture. I dislike the urban, Americanized culture that is spreading, and I feel unwell when I see how preoccupied we have become with interest rates, or that "shopping" has become a central value in people's lives. But it has been shown that distant EU bureaucrats are more to be trusted than local decision-makers who give in to business interests.

- Are you not afraid to focus on the eternal yes-no to the EU. Isn't that exactly the point, that the focus is skewed?

- I do not focus on the EU – it is a subordinate theme in the book, which has species extinction as its main perspective. But when I see that wolves and bears and lynx are shot in droves outside the EU, it was fair to present what I came up with.

It is clear that the EU question is nonetheless unimportant in relation to consumerism, and that consumerism itself is only part of the idea of ​​neoliberalism.

- Does Norway have anything to contribute to the EU?

- What Norway has to contribute to the EU will in any case be of less importance – Norway is more affected by the EU than vice versa. However, there are areas where we are still better off: egalitarian Norway, for example.

I see clearly that in relation to species diversity we can really make a big difference. We have control over what Norwegian nature looks like – as long as climate change does not destroy the climate balance, Norway at least has control over its own species diversity. Norwegian nature is unique. But both species other than our own and natural beauty play an insignificant role in Norwegian politics. We really have something to contribute there. But we do not want that.

- Why should we have predators in Norway, when there are wolves, bears and lynx in the EU? The Spaniards live well with several hundred wolves…

- Firstly, the quality of life of the majority is reduced together with species diversity. But more importantly, if rich Norway gives itself the right to exterminate nationally, all countries must have that right – if the creatures exist only in one place. In a hundred years, wolves and bears may live only in Siberia, which may still be poor, and where local exterminators will know how to end the adventure once and for all. For eternity. Therefore, it is very important that Norway does not take action and exterminate animals. There we can have great influence, in the wrong direction.

In climate policy, our global influence is small. It does not mean that we do not have tremendous opportunities if we are careful not to use them. Just look at the neighboring countries: how much Denmark and Sweden have achieved in relation to us.

- You dare to end the chapter where you settle with "no to the EU", with the following sentence: "I will vote with the majority of the animals". It can be dismissed as extreme naivety – you risk being explained that politics is not about animals?

- I rebel against the human-centered contempt for animals. Animals are the weak, the others. But there is an openness in the wording to follow the majority of the animals. No to the EU can still sharpen, and reach out to the environmental side and create new alliances. By the way, it goes deeper: People without a heart for animals, rarely have a warm heart for humans either.

And then it must be noted that there is not a person on Blindern who says anything. There are no forces of significance either in politics or among the intellectuals with an empathy that transcends their own nature. The animals lose. And the left side is losing, among other large youth groups.

- "It paralyzes the political interest if a nation can not determine the basic features of its development", you write. But can any nation today determine the basic features of its development, is there at all something that can be determined at the national level?

- No nation can seriously determine the basic features of its development, within global capitalism. When economic growth is the goal itself, the main course is determined, and the possibilities for deviations are small. But it is a wiggle room, much more than we might be able to imagine. With a more value-driven national policy, Norway with its riches had the opportunity to set a different course than we do. The fact is that Norway does not want a transition to sustainable interests – in the short term we earn far too much on what is not sustainable.

Most of the earth's unique and innumerable species are still here. We can enjoy them every day – we should not forget to protect their future, and our own.

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