Iceland: Environmental Observations
One of the things that I’m particularly interested in looking at over the next few months is the environmental aspects of life in different countries. In Iceland, there was a heavy emphasis on geothermal energy, which provides a quarter of the country’s electricity (almost all of the rest comes from hydropower). Geothermal is also used extensively for heating purposes [NEA].
While I may have seen only 2 people outside while we were driving around Iceland and although it was very sparsely populated, there were countless construction vehicles everywhere. I’m not really sure what they were there for but wish I’d asked!
There were also rotaries everywhere; I think I only saw a couple of traffic lights the entire day that we were driving. Roads were also really narrow (even the Ring Road that we were driving on only had one lane in each direction). I also do remember seeing an electric charging outlet at the gas station.
Tourism is now a significant part of the economy and I would have been interested in finding out more about what people think about it and what its impacts are on the environment, especially since more people now visit the country over the course of a year than the entire population of Iceland [ITB].
While I was at Geysir, I totally had a moment where I walked up a hill with some other people only to realize that the area where we’d walked probably had vegetation that was destroyed as countless people visited the site every day. Apparently, off-trail hiking is one of the current threats around tourist sites in Iceland [check out this article on Grapevine for more info].
The company that I took a tour with did have an “Environmental Policy,” which said that drivers learn eco-driving techniques (how to drive in a way that uses less gas) [RE]. However, along with the expansion of geothermal and hydroelectric energy production facilities, tourism could also affect areas that are currently considered wilderness [Iceland].