Into the Glacier

Our recent trip to Iceland has left a deep impression on me, not only its breathtaking scenery but also the country’s affordable 100% renewable hydro and geothermal resources.

Iceland is known for it’s extreme winter weather and our visit was during its coldest month. However, surprisingly, the local Airbnb we stayed was, sometimes, too hot that we were told to open the window and let cold air in. Iceland’s household heating system is provided by geothermal energy from its nature volcanic roots. The underground hot water is stored and supplied to homes through well-insulated piping without any treatments. Locals enjoy constant hot water and cozy heated homes with very little costs. Furthermore, the household waste water then recycled to heat streets.

As a traveler, I am very amazed by nowadays Iceland’s leading development of its green resources.  And the reason why Icelandic people are so much focused on renewable energy is easily to be understood: realization come with a price.

Land erosion and climate change: Before the extensive development of the hydro and geothermal resources, the country was dependent upon earlier wood fuel and later coal and oil. Iceland’s treeless landscaping has caused significant land erosion.  Fast melting of the country’s glaciers as result of global warming is first seen by the locals.

Land rising and volcano eruption: Ice caps melting causes uplift of Iceland and in turn increases volcanic activity. The famous 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull interrupted flights worldwide and spewed ash in the air for nearly a month. Local farmers had to be evacuated from their land and left their home behind.

Comparing to Icelandic people experiencing firsthand environmental changes and green energy development, what I’ve seen and learnt during my visit is the tip of the iceberg. The trip was short but the question left in my mind is long lasting: How can we lead a sustainable lifestyle?