‘Iceland

Second interview: Iceland presidential candidate Ari Trausti

…We also met Ari Trausti, Iceland presidential candidate in today’s elections. It was pre-election day of silence so it was a great privilege that he devoted 45 minutes of his time to us.

At the end of the interview he confessed that he was very interested in the topic because he had been on the verge of doing something similar, a plane trip through the Arctic region, heavily sponsored, to gather relevant information on climate change, but that everything had come to nothing because the Russians had said niet, and the entire Siberian Arctic strip is essential for the analysis.

He is a versatile science-oriented statesman very involved in spreading scientific issues, especially as regards climate change. He basically told us about the real threat of climate change, the rising of the sea level at a pace of 3 mm per year, the deforestation as an unbalancing element in CO2 cycle, the responsibility of human beings – already exponential – in the process, apart from the periods of the Earth – currently interglacial.

…he spoke about research initiatives on alternative energy sources that would allow us to keep our lifestyle in a cleaner way, about awareness-raising campaigns … And he gave us five key ways of changing our habits to individually diminish the said effects, because it’s us, some more than others, who are directly responsible for a great part of the problem:

1. Recycling. 2. Using public transportation. 3. Buying local products to avoid the emissions produced by transportation from remote places. 4. Growing our own food in our garden or in small pots or greenhouses (there are many models). 5. Reducing consumption.

The future of the planet is in our hands, each one of us in our area of influence and activity. We can’t go on like this, we have to step outside of our comfort area and act differently.

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Ninth and tenth days: Interviews on climate change in Reykjavik

On the 28th at night, we went out for dinner with Àsi (Àsgrimur Sverrisson). He is a huge Icelander around 50 years old with a smiling and easy-going character. We met it through Néstor Calvo, from La magdalena de Proust, a wonderful ecological food shop in Madrid near Las Salesas.

Àsi is a film and TV program director. His good-natured character and his position have earned him many relationships, so he offered to arrange an interview with one of the candidates to the country’s presidency, in the elections that are taking place on Saturday.

The Spanish consulate, even though the consul was absent, also did some moves and arranged an interview with a senior official from the Ministry of Environment. On the 29th we started our day with these appointments confirmed.

The first appointment was with Stefan Einarsson, PhD. He is the director of the Climate Change and Long-Range Pollution Division. He devoted 30 minutes of his time to talk to us, and we carefully recorded the conversation in spite of the low voice with which this gentleman speaks.

His comments referred mainly to the Government’s line of action and to the manifest existing signs of climate change.

Iceland is a country very dependant on its natural resources and they are aware of it. In an evaluation of greenhouse gas emissions per inhabitant, they ranked exceedingly high and this worries them.

They have metal industry, aluminum treatment, a great fishing fleet, a large number of cars and a very powerful transportation system. Given the small population, over 300 thousand inhabitants, the per capita rate is high.

Another source of gas emission is related to the deep drillings carried out to get high-temperature water (Iceland Deep Drilling Project). But along with the extraction of these waters that save so much energy there is an emission of methane that contributes to the greenhouse effect.

Such is the situation in the country, but the Government is so worried that it is doing all it takes to mitigate each one of the problems that arise.

Cars pay taxes according to their level of emission – those that don’t emit gases are exempt from the tax –, research is being done so that the fishing fleet uses an alternative form of energy, they are recycling methane as a source of energy for the automobile industry.

Icelanders have developed high-level technology for the exploitation of natural resources; this know-how is being exported to other countries which, together with their fishing and aluminum-related activities, is pulling them out of the crisis.

We were left with the impression of a people increasingly mindful of its dependence on the environment, a Government that knows where to go and a developed technology that is proving successful.

We are convinced that this country is keeping on its toes, that it’s walking in the right direction and will solve its problems.

We are sure that it will be a model to follow.

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Seventh day: Flying over Iceland, glaciers, volcanoes and lakes all the way to Reykjavik

…on Wednesday we flew over Iceland and passed over the biggest glacier in Europe. We intended to approach the volcano that was active in 2010 in the southern part of the island, but the forecast failed and when we reached the area we were met with development clouds that generated some ice, so we couldn’t see it.

However, we enjoyed good visibility at certain points that let us admire the power of these magically multicolored harsh volcanic landscapes where the water thawed from the glacier runs happily in countless waterfalls, lakes, brooks and creeks.

We plan to stay in Reykjavik until Saturday to do the first interviews on climate change.

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Sixth day: In eastern Iceland, where shadows are long at midnight

Today, Tuesday, we have woken up in Iceland. We have slept in a three-room hotel, in the middle of the valley formed by the estuary. There’s hardly any traffic here.

It’s a beautiful day, the Sun shines between the clouds and we are wearing the quality wool undershirts we rightly put in our baggage.

Crossing the ocean has been incredible. The only problem is we can never be certain of the weather conditions. These are unknown and changeable places. Serious trouble can happen here at low altitudes.

We did the crossing at 3,000 feet and Harro a bit higher. We have flown along the coast of the Faroe Islands.

The airport where we landed is near the east coast. It’s called Egilsstaðir, surrounded by snowy mountains and half way into the estuary. The local newspaper took a picture of us when we arrived.

We arrived past midnight and the Sun was shining bright creating a very long shadow. Only, our bodies were longing for the horizontal position.

The place we are at is pure green landscape, snowy mountains and nice people. If the weather is ok, we will leave for Reykjavik today.

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