This is my third post about Iceland. By now you guessed that I’m in love with the place, and you’re not wrong. It is not just because of its beauty, though. Iceland delivers the expected breathtaking vistas, but it is what I felt and thought when looking at it, that struck me.
While appreciating the ocean, rivers, lakes, ice, dormant volcanos, and land, you cannot stop reminding yourself to not take nature for granted, for its amazing capacity to support life. I bow with awe and respect to the Earth, this extraordinary place we call home, and the only planet known to harbour life.
The Earth has gone through a massive geological transformation in its 4 billion years of existence, creating what we know today as our oceans, atmosphere, magnetic field, continents, mountains, volcanoes, etc. Throughout this time, the Earth has seen ice ages, first life forms, mass extinction of dinosaurs, and the rise of human life.
In more recent times, we became aware of many environmental changes, which might threaten our very existence, and that’s why the global warming debate ensued.
Regardless of which theory you believe in, I’m confident that if anyone cares about being alive, one should at least be aware of the data informing on how our planet is changing now and how Earth could change in the future. From rising sea levels to the availability of freshwater, alarm bells ring, warning us of the need to care for what makes life possible: our home, the Earth.
Iceland made me ponder about all of that. There is no sight of human presence in its barren vegetation but ice, active volcanoes, lava fields and remains of lava from previous explosions. They are untouched by human civilisation. Two-thirds of its 329k inhabitants live in the southwest area of the island because the other areas are not as suitable for living. The island’s interior, the Highlands of Iceland, is a cold and uninhabitable combination of sand, mountains, and lava fields.
From a geological standpoint, Iceland is a country in constant transformation, while being shaped by the forces of nature. The name Iceland is misleading because “ice” only covers about 10% of the land, although it has the most massive glaciers in Europe.
Imagine what life would be if the Earth would be like Iceland, and the world’s population would be concentrated in a small area with no vegetation and animals, counting only on the sea and geothermal water. I didn’t need a better reminder of humans frailty and dependency on nature’s resources to live and survive.
Iceland is closer to continental Europe than to mainland North America, but geologically, the island includes parts of both continental plates. Iceland is part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge ad it was created through volcanism along the ridge. The ridge marks the boundary between the Eurasian and North American plates. It is the only place in the world where the Mid-Atlantic Ridge comes up out of the sea and is exposed on land. That’s where I was in the photo below.
I shot the featured image in the place you see in the first photo below. While shooting, I noticed these little survivors of the extreme weather. Human beings wouldn’t have survived that. It was minus 9 C degrees in the night before I shot it, at around noon, and the sun had shone just two hours before. It was still freezing.
Let’s visit more places? From the national park Thingvellir, we headed to Geysir. Iceland has many geysers, including Geysir. Did you know that the English word ‘geyser’ is derived from Geysir, the oldest known geyser?
We visited the famous geyser ‘Strokkur’, which erupts every 8–10 minutes. See below.
Iceland is the world’s ‘greenest’ country and is at the forefront of renewable energy production, for its widespread availability of geothermal power and the harnessing of many rivers and waterfalls for hydroelectricity. Nearly every home in the country has access to inexpensive hot water, heating, and electricity from renewable energy sources. Below are the photos of a partially frozen waterfall.
The weekly photo challenge asked for my interpretation of transformation. This is my take on it. Let me know what you think of it in the comments below.
Let’s take care of our Earth. It is the only home we have.
Being geologically active with many volcanoes, in March 2010, Eyjafjallajökull in the south of Iceland erupted for the first time since 1821, forcing 600 people to flee and abandon their homes. The cloud of volcanic ash brought major disruption to air travel across Europe. I visited the area and will share it in the next post.