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Júlíana Björnsdóttir's picture

Recently I found myself sitting late at night watching a documentary about the state of the planet, the destruction of the natural habitat of animals facing extinction.

The program sparked a strong reaction within me. I was frightened and saddened beyond belief to see so vividly the devastation our kind has caused to the planet’s ecosystem.

A shift to irregular patterns in weather such as longer periods of drought and the seemingly growing extremes in weather are said to be consequences of this devastation and I dare not repute the predictions scientists have made in recent reports.

I found myself asking what state this planet will be in after a century or two.

These changes have not gone unnoticed in Iceland. The previous winter was harsh with its characteristic ice-covered grounds and foul odor from the oxygen-deprived fields of grass suffocating below the thick ice.

This winter has been a stormy one. We’ve seen countless storms resulting in flight cancelations, road closures and traffic jams that temporarily paralyze the city.

Yesterday we had our latest storm. According to mbl.is, yesterday’s storm resulted in flight cancelations from Keflavík International Airport, high way closures in the capital and in other regions and a disruption to bus services.

The storm affected my day, as I had to cancel plans I’d made with my family.

My plan was to catch the morning bus to Akranes, the small town where I grew up, and spend the rest of the day as well as an evening meal with my parents, sisters, brother-in-law, niece and nephews. But it became increasingly obvious on Saturday night that the plan was not going to work out.

My sister who lives on the European continent is visiting for a couple of weeks, and I therefore don’t see her very often. Missing an opportunity with my whole family was really upsetting.

Seeing that most of my week goes into work, writing my thesis, exercising and walking my dog, I had carefully planned to be with them yesterday.

My Sunday afternoon was therefore spent at home with my husband and darling dog Emma. It goes without saying that they are wonderful company too.

I wasn’t the only one whose plans went array. Emma, who is used to a nice afternoon walk with my husband, was less than keen to walk in the strong and noisy wind, and ended up staying indoors for most of the day.

It’s indeed frustrating to be stopped (once more) by bad weather. So far this year, I’ve been stuck at work due to a blizzard that paralyzed the city for half a day or so, and over the holiday season, my shopping plans for presents went down the drain on two occasions.

November on the other hand consisted of warm days for the time of year, with double-digit degrees (Celsius) occurring every now and then.

Are these extremes in weather a natural shift, or is it perhaps the fault of an overly eager mankind to industrialize and use all resources available to them, regardless of the cost?

I am inclined to go with the latter.

Regardless of the obvious signs of destruction around the globe, there is undeniable interest in oil drilling in the Arctic and building more plants that take advantage of Iceland’s natural energy resources.

How is that possible knowing what is at stake? Are we willing to ruin the vulnerable ecosystem that is the Arctic? What if the glaciers melt? Where will all that water go? And what destruction will follow?

Will Iceland’s coastal communities be drowned in glacial water?

And what will happen when the Icelandic glaciers melt? What price can we expect to pay?

Will mankind perhaps become yet another species facing extinction?

Júlíana Björnsdóttir – [email protected]

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