The Unforeseen Future (JB)


julianabjornsdottir_dlOne of my greatest contemplations in life is the state of our planet and how humanity regards our home.

In these last few weeks and months, few issues have caused as much discussion in Iceland as the never-ending debate about power plants and the harnessing of natural energy.

The debate continues and will continue for as long as the absence of a dialogue is an acceptable means to resolution. Without a dialogue, the absence of a mutual agreement is inevitable.

To have political power is a great responsibility. The obligations and duties of an office in parliament weigh heavy on the public that relies on MPs to perform their duties with both long-term and short-term goals in mind, and to give instead of taking.

Yet the requirements to fill a position of office are vague with political heritance, popularism and party policies outweighing the demand for experience, that is background that is relevant to the position rewarded to individuals in power and/or higher level of education in the field, and last but not least, a knowledgeable overview of man, country and the international community.

Most importantly is the demand to be able to put your opinions aside, to be a good listener who may not have a change of heart, but will admit when personal views are simply not in the nation’s best interest. An incident of particular interest at the present time, an incident that can easily be seen as a case study of how imperfect the political scenario is in its present form and reflects how the human factor is often its greatest flaw, surfaced in the municipality of Kópavogur in the capital area last week.

The minority party made a bold proposition to improve the state of the rental market in one of the individual communities in the capital city area. A single member of the majority rule voted in favor of the proposition and all of a sudden, the majority member, who I suppose voted from his heart rather than loyalty to his party, ignites a volcanic eruption that shakes the majority rule to the core.

Neither side seems to discuss the actual nature of the proposal. Rather the topic is internal betrayal and the current majority’s inability to meet the constituents’ needs. I watched a debate without an actual dialogue between two members from each side yesterday morning on the morning program, Sunnudagsmorgunn, where their focus was entirely on the technicality of how the proposal was admitted to the council meeting. Neither politician was able to have a dialogue with one another in which the goal is to find a solution to the housing problem.

But it is the state of environmentalism in Iceland that weighs heavily on my shoulders.

I worry about the process of decision-making and what I perceive to be antipathy to the preservation of Iceland’s mind-blowing and in some places lunar natural landscape, amidst those who fill the parliament positions of power at the moment.

What struck me at the end of this week is news of cuts in funds to the Icelandic Environmental Agency. The cut will do much to disable the institution in ways that are fundamental to ecological conservation and protection.

Yesterday, RÚV reported that the Icelandic Environmental Agency will not be receiving any funding at all in 2014 to projects, among others, related to conservation of natural areas in Iceland. In light of the current government’s apparent enthusiasm for aluminum plants, this comes across to me as a strategic plan to open up the backdoor to harnessing the energy without having to abide to the legal restrictions of conservation.

I fear for the 30 odd natural areas that were in the process of being placed under conservation. I worry they lose their value as pearls of nature and face extinction in the form of industrialization, be it a hydro-energy plants or aluminum plants.

The environment is our first home, our shared home; it’s where we build the nest we call home and where we spend our whole life, from birth to death. So, why are we so willing to take such a risk with our nearest environment? We blow out the candles we light up in our house, we keep our house clean and change our bed sheets regularly.

But our first home, the one we share with each other, is for some reason less worthy of this careful and neat doting that we practice in our private quarters. Why is the real question we need to ask ourselves. My impression as I listen to MPs in majority rule is that they are in charge and their policies the general policies in parliament and therefore the governing of the country.

I sense an inability within parliament to have a dialogue with the public, to ask us what we think about conservation and harnessing of natural energy. To ask us how we feel about the European Union and whether we want to finish the dialogue we were having with the EU negotiators.

I feel powerless to protect the nature I cherish from the bottom of heart. I feel as if I have no control of the future of Icelandic nature, and I fear I’ll be telling tales of woe to future generations of young Icelanders in a few decades time.

Iceland is not the only country in the world where the environment is threatened by what I perceive to be greed. But wouldn’t it be nice if Icelandic politicians made it their priority to allow Iceland to be a haven of exquisite landscape and natural wonders, bound to laws of conservation.

If Iceland was the beacon of hope in a world where profit is unfortunately a powerful argument to damage and destroy what is simply beautiful, and not ours to disrupt.

Júlíana Björnsdóttir – [email protected]

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.