Norway is a pretty amazing place.
First of all, it's the happiest country in the world, according to a Forbes ranking. Probably because of all that delicious Norwegian salmon they get to eat. Which, by the way, they introduced to Japan in the 1970s — effectively inventing salmon sushi.
Norway has also done some pretty amazing things for the planet and the battle against climate change.
To be fair, Norway has a stockpile of over $800 billion from oil sales that it's been saving since the 1990s. That's a LOT of cash earned by profiting on fossil fuels.
That said, the internal workings of the country are super-green and getting greener.
They use hydropower to supply 95% of their electricity, and they plan to have net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 — a lofty goal that they're well on their way to completing.
Norway also does a lot for trees.
Look around you. Do you see any trees? (Try going outside first.) How about now? See any?
I hope you do, because if you're near a tree, that means you're near a thing whose job it is to soak up greenhouse gases (like CO2) and pump out oxygen for you to breathe.
So go up to the tree and thank it. I'm not kidding. High-five that sucker and tell it it's doing a good job.
Trees are great for the climate, which means forests are REALLY great for the climate. Norway wants to protect those forests so they can keep helping us out.
Norway recently worked with Brazil to help save the Amazon rainforest, which was disappearing rapidly due to deforestation. But their commitment to forests didn't stop there.
Norway just made history by committing to zero deforestation.
What does that mean, exactly?
Well, as the World Resources Institute points out ... it's complicated and means different things to different people. But what it comes down to is that Norway's committing to avoid buying or using items that come from deforested areas.
Many private-sector companies have taken a similar pledge, but Norway is the first country to take it. This sets a new precedent for governments that want to act in a big way on climate change.
“This is an important victory in the fight to protect the rainforest," Nils HermannRanum of Rainforest Foundation Norway said in a statement, urging other countries like Germany and the U.K. to step up to match Norway's game.
The best part of Norway's commitment: You can make it too!
Committing to zero deforestation isn't limited to corporations and governments. There are many ways to ensure that you, as an individual, don't contribute to the rapid loss of forests.
You can go paperless. You can look for the FSC seal on paper and wood products. You can try going vegetarian. (Do one vegetarian day a week if the full commitment scares you.) Or plant a tree! Plant a glorious tree and high-five it every day for encouragement.
We can all help save the world's forests, and the fact that Norway is stepping up as an entire country to help out is particularly awesome.
Hopefully this is only the start.