Friday, March 7, 2014

Iceland's Energy Resources

One of my favorite things about Iceland is the fact that it is such a green country. Iceland is making a huge conscious effort to become as eco-friendly as possible with plans to become a one-hundred percent fossil-free nation in the near future. With Iceland being situated on top of a volcano, much of the country's energy comes from geothermal resources; however, the most energy is supplied through hydro power. As of 2010, 26.2% of Iceland's energy was produced by the five major geothermal power plants located in the country. There are at least twenty-five active volcanoes in Iceland as well as numerous geysers and hot springs. Because of this, many buildings, swimming pools, and even sidewalks are heated in Iceland by harnessing this energy. The sidewalks are heated through geothermal energy in order to melt the snow. 73.8% of Iceland's energy was hydro power with only .1% coming from fossil fuels! Hydro power is the process of harnessing energy from the gravitational force of flowing or falling water. This method is the most widely used process for creating renewable energy across the world, renewable meaning the source is not one which will be depleted in a time span. The source is one of which is naturally replenished. In 2010, hydroelectricity was responsible for sixteen percent of the world's electricity. This number was projected to increase by 3.1% every year for the next twenty-five years. Of course every source of gathering energy comes at a price. By building plants to harness hydro energy, we cause a displacement of eco systems by temporarily disturbing the flow of natural waters. Geothermal energy is found to pose a risk through the release of hydrogen sulfide as well as the disposal of some geothermal liquids which may contain toxic materials.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Icelandic Politics

The political system of Iceland, being a democracy, has one head of state, similar to the United States, called the president, which is voted for by the people. The current president is Olafur Grimmson. Below the president is the prime minister who is currently Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson. Included in the government is a legislative branch of parliament and standing committee, an executive branch including a cabinet, ministry, and agency, and a judicial branch with both district and supreme courts. This government works in almost the same way as that of the US government. Iceland was under many different rulers over time, resulting in changes of religion as well as political systems. Under Norse settlement in 930, the Althing, a general assembly, was created. When Iceland fell under the Danish crown, from 1400-1550, Lutheranism was brought by force under Bishop Jon Aresson. After economic turmoil and pandemic swept the country in the 17th and 18th centuries, a lift on the exclusion of foreign traders in 1854 had Iceland looking up for the 19th century. Led by Jon Sigurosson, a constitution was formed in 1874, and Iceland became part of union with Denmark in 1918. This was later voted to be terminated in 1944, claiming Iceland an independent republic. With Sveinn Bjornsson as the first president, Iceland joined many plans and treaties including a defense pact with the US military in 1951. The Althing officially dissolved in 1974, and Vigdis Finnbogadottir was elected third president in 1980, the world’s first popularity elected female head of state. She was followed by popular Olafur Grimmson in 1996 who has been re-elected every for years including 2012 and who is still the current president.