Icelanders Consume in Excess

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Icelanders Consume in Excess

Green Days commenced on Sunday March 13 and ends on March 16. The schedule includes an exchange market for clothes, a movie screening, panel discussion and lecture. Green Days  is open to everyone and all events are free of charge. This year’s event began with a lecture on the ecological footprint and consumption habits of Icelanders, mbl.is reports.

universityoficeland_dom
University of Iceland. Photo by DOM.

Icelandic environment and natural resources specialist, and University of Iceland graduate, Sigurður Eyberg presented the findings of the research he conducted on  these issues for his thesis.

In his lecture he included a clip from a documentary he is producing which documents his attempts to live with a minimal ecological footprint. The documentary will premier in the next few months but for now he has not revealed the results of his experiment.

He used methods recognized by the Global Footprint Network to calculate the ecological footprint in Iceland, according to Fréttablaðið.

Iceland is considered to be rich in renewable energy production and sustainable fishing. Nonetheless, the study indicates that Iceland produces a larger than most ecological footprint.

In an interview conducted by potential presidential candidate Þóra Arnórsdóttir  on Kastljós, a news magazine on Rúv,  broadcast last night, Sigurður elaborated on the results from his Master’s thesis. In the interview he told Þóra that “there’s something in our mentality that encourages the excess consumerist behavior.”

“We are depleting Earth’s resources more than we can permit ourselves. At the moment we would need one and a half planet Earths to support our consumption,” he told Þóra in the interview.

Fréttablaðið reports that according to Sigurður’s research,  Icelanders are using 12.7 hectares  on average to support their consumption compared to 2.1 hectares per person required to live sustainably. Saudi-Arabia follows suit with 9.46 hectares per person and the United States with 9.42.

“We must stop this or our ecosystem will face destruction. The only solution is to teach our kids they don’t need three i-pads and the importance of recycling”.”

In the interview he credited Icelanders for the way in which they have taken up recycling. He told Þóra that “you don’t need to import what you recycle.”

When Þóra asked Sigurður whether the results indicate Icelanders need to reduce the quality of life they have become accustomed to, he responded by saying that “we might have to balance it out.”

“We need to ask ourselves if we need all these electronic appliances. If the rest of the world consumed at the same level as Icelanders do, we would need six planet Earths to sustain this quality of life.”

“If we’re going to feed the whole world, that is the estimated nine billion people inhabiting it, then we need to resolve this matter.”

Today a panel debate entitled “Who Controls Consumption?” in which Kjartan Bollason from the Icelandic Society of Environmental  Scientists and Auður Nanna Baldvinsdóttir, an environmental economist from the National Energy Authority (Orkustofnun) will speak before an audience.

GAIA will also present its first Green Awards, rewarded to individuals within the University of Iceland who promote an increased ecological awareness.

Guest lecturers from the Environment Agency of Iceland and Slow Food  will speak during Green Days.

JB