Democratic Norms and the Settlement of Iceland

Iceland today is a small island of roughly 300,000 people in the North Atlantic, often credited as the oldest functioning democracy. Iceland was originally colonized by Norse migrants leaving Scandinavia in search of land in the Ninth Century. Except for a few monks, the Norse settlers found an uninhabited island and began claiming tracks of land. Due to a remarkably high degree of literacy among the earliest Iceland Settlers, substantial and detailed records exist of this of this settlement period. We can use these settlement records to understand how the people of Iceland interacted with each other, developing elementary government.

Eutrophication Reduction Through Local Limits

Both the Baltic Sea and the Chesapeake Bay are great examples of complex and diverse watersheds. The Baltic Sea is quite large and has a catchment area of 1,641,650 square kilometers over nine or ten countries. The Chesapeake Bay is smaller about a tenth the size, but 166,534 square kilometers over seven states. We can see them both here. Both the Baltic Sea and the Chesapeake Bay are afflicted by eutrophication, a strange kind of dead zone in the water. Eutrophication is caused by an overabundance of phosphates and nitrogen in the water. Small amounts are healthy in the water,

Geothermal Power in the United States

Iceland is a really cool place that uses a lot of geothermal power. Geothermal power makes up more than a quarter of electric power in Iceland and the balance comes from hydropower. I especially love the fact the runoff from one of those geothermal plants is used as a spa. But geothermal works in Iceland because the entire thing is a volcanic wasteland about to blow. The United States is not so fortunate. Also, the United States requires vastly more energy than Iceland. Iceland’s 2015 power generation was a mere 18,798 GWh. In contrast, the United States generated 4,078,000 GWh

Jeg Er En Frø!

After completing the Danish course last May, I was kind of at a loss for how to proceed. Duolingo rewards daily usage, so I did the completely rational thing and went all the way through Swedish, completing it in October. Since October, I have played in French and Russian, and also worked through some older lessons to keep both the Danish and the Swedish fresh. During the Danish course, I wanted more solid practice. Duolingo provides digital immersion for some of its courses, but not the less common languages. I wanted to practice reading. When I took languages in school,

Iceland on Mars

Last summer, when I spoke at the Mars Society Convention, I used Iceland as one of three comparison points for the expected evolution of self-governance on Mars. Today, the Mars Society posted an older link about a 2014 conference on establishing a bill of rights for Mars: How to create a bill of rights for Mars colonies Importantly, at the International Extraterrestrial Liberty Conference1, delegates used Iceland as the basis point for developing a governance strategy, though for slightly different reasons: [Iceland] is in a relatively isolated location with a low population. And, as on Mars, inhabitants also face a

Opening Transpolar Shipping Lanes

Russian company Росатомфлот is planning to build an enormous ice breaker to open polar shipping routes. Monster icebreaker for transpolar shipping It looks more like a fantacy yacht made for a Russian oligarch. However, the vessel is not made for fancy holidays along the Crimean coast. If the plans of Rosatomflot turns into reality, the ship will become Russia’s main icebreaking vessel for transpolar shipments. The ship will be nuclear powered with a deadweight of at least 55,000 tons. For comparison, the largest United States icebreaker, the USCGC Healy, is only 16,000 tons. This massive ship’s purpose is to cut