Mourning the Loss of Two Prominent Finnish Environmental Thinkers: Markku Aho and Pentti Linkola

Markku Aho, rowing on the left, seining on a lake in Kontiolahti in 2014. Snowchange

Markku Aho, rowing on the left, seining on a lake in Kontiolahti in 2014. Snowchange

Snowchange joins in mourning when two prominent national environmentalists are gone – Markku Aho from North Karelia and fisherman Pentti Linkola from Ritvala in Häme region.

Markku Aho succumbed to cancer in December 2019. He was in his late 60s and was known nationally as one of the founders key personalities of the DeGrowth Movement both regionally (Kohtuus vaarassa) in North Karelia and as well on the national level in Helsinki. Aho worked professionally in the educational sphere of first Eno municipality and later in the Joensuu city administration. However it was his work in helping to establish the Koli National Park (one of the national landscapes of Finland) as well as many other environmental actions that solidified his legacy as a major environmentalist. Snowchange worked with Markku in the Cultural Heritage of Hill Karelia Project 2011-2013 and subsequently in traditional seining and other discussions for years. A irreplaceable loss, indeed.

Fisherman Pentti Linkola during the oral history work in early 2000s. Snowchange / Eero Murtomäki

Fisherman Pentti Linkola during the oral history work in early 2000s. Snowchange / Eero Murtomäki

Fisherman, philosopher and radical thinker Pentti Linkola passed in April 2020. He was born in 1932 and was 87 when he died. Linkola started to work as a professional fisherman in 1959. Throughout his adult life he was an advocate for nature conservation and warned of the dangers of capitalism, population growth and direction the humanity was headed. He remained a stout pessimist to the end of his life not seeing much hope for the world or for humans.

Linkola was also instrumental in surveying and systematically exploring the bird populations from Finland, advancing long-term monitoring data on many key species. For example Lesser Black-Backed Gull (Larus fuscus) was close to Pentti’s heart over the years. He developed several publications outlining plans for a transition to more sustainable society, often requiring radical means. He triggered also vast controversies with his more radical ideas.

Linkola fished in various locations in Southern Finland from the coast to lake Päijänne before settling in Ritvala by lake Vanajavesi where he continued gill netting under the ice  with his horse into the 2000s. Olli Klemola, a Snowchange Elder, fished with Linkola since 1969. Snowchange worked with Linkola on fishermens oral histories of climate change in Pirkanmaa region between 2002-2004. Subsequently Snowchange supported Pentti in buying new nets after the losses of 2004-2005 winter. Between 2005-2020 we stayed in touch, exchanging on nature conservation, fisheries and forest issues. Currently Tero Mustonen, a Snowchange fisherman, is fishing with the fish trap Linkola had in 1970s. Whilst Snowchange is based on more traditional values and perception of nature than what Linkola advocated in his works we recognize the value and staying power of many of the important initiatives Pentti put forwards.

Snowchange joins in mourning of these two prominent environmental thinkers from Finland and cherishes the cooperation and friendships across the years. 

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