Video Shows Tourists Swept Off Their Feet at Reynisfjara Beach

No amount of signage or posted warnings seem to be able to convince tourists on Reynisfjara beach to stay well clear of its dangerous and powerful waves. An Instagram video posted five days ago by American photographer Erica Mengouchian shows dozens of tourists getting swept off their feet by a wave on the shore, while others – including the photographer herself – rush to get out of the reach of the surf.

“WAIT FOR IT…” reads the video caption. “[I]nsane waves/weather! This place is no joke and these people don’t pay attention to the warning signs…Thankfully everyone got back up safely and they are ok.”

Reynisfjara beach, notorious for its “sneaker waves,” has been the site of numerous accidents over the years – some of them even fatal. An American woman died in May 2007 when caught by a wave, and a Chinese man lost his life when he was swept out to sea in February 2016. There have been many close calls besides, as tourists often disbelieve or choose to ignore the posted signage which states, among other things, “Very Dangerous Sea Currents,” “Deadly Sneaker Waves,” and “Never Turn Your Back On the Ocean.”

See Erica’s video on Instagram.

Twentieth Annual Iceland Airwaves Kicks Off

Iceland Airwaves began today with a full schedule of shows, featuring headlining Icelandic acts such as Kælan Mikla, Reykjavíkurdætur, Úlfur Úlfur, and Árstíðir, reports.

This is the 20th year in a row that Iceland Airwaves has been held, although this year’s event is under new management, as the popular fest was purchased by event production company Sena Live earlier this year. Sena has implemented some structural changes to this year’s Airwaves, such as reducing the number of off-venue locations from 60 to 25.

Featuring musicians from 25 countries, this year’s festival will host 240 bands, the most musical acts to have ever taken part in Airwaves. The festival will continue nightly through Saturday, November 10.

Iceland Has Highest Per-Capita CO2 Emissions in EU and EFTA

Iceland has the highest per capita carbon dioxide emissions when all the economies in the EU and EFTA are compared side-by-side. This result came forth in a recent report issued by Statistics Iceland, which compared data from 2016.

Iceland’s CO2 emissions have increased significantly since 2014, which was the last time they were compared with those in the EU and EFTA areas. From 2008-2014, Iceland was ranked third or fourth in per-capita CO2 emissions, but they have increased since then due to “increased activity in air and marine transport,” as well as metal production.

“Other economies with high per capita emissions are Luxembourg, Denmark and Estonia,” the report continues. “Emissions per capita within these countries have been between 13 and 19 tonnes of carbon dioxide per capita. Emissions per capita within the region have, in general, been decreasing since 2008, and the majority of countries have reached approximately 9 tonnes per capita with few countries showing significantly lower values. Iceland is the only country among the countries ranked above 20 which has shown a significant increase in per capita emissions since 2008.”

As of 2016, Iceland’s CO2 emissions are 16.9 tonnes per capita, up from 15.5 in 2015, and 13.9 in 2014. Iceland’s emissions were actually on a downward trend between 2008 and 2012, going from 14.6 tonnes per capita to 13.3. But they began to rise again in 2013.

The report notes that “[t]he economies at the top of the list have economic segments which dominate their emissions. The majority of emissions from the economy of Luxembourg come from the air transport section, both air cargo and passenger transportation. Marine transport is the dominating sector for the Danish economy, which is home to the world’s largest shipping company. In 2016, only 15% of Estonian power generation came from a renewable source, which makes this sector the dominant emitter with the economy. Estonia produces 93% of their energy needs, which is the highest portion within the EU.” Emissions from the Icelandic economy derive primarily from two sectors, the report continues: “…air transportation and the production of basic metals. Emissions from metal production in Iceland are due to consumption of graphite in electrodes rather than from fuel combustion.”

When comparing household emissions, Iceland also ranks higher than its Nordic neighbors in CO2 emissions, and has since 2008. “The highest value was 1.96 tonnes per capita in 2007, but the value reached 1.64 tonnes per capita in 2014, which is a lowering by 19%. Emissions from 1.64 tonnes of carbon dioxide is similar to a mid-sized family car that is driven 8,000 km.”

“Danish households have reduced their emissions most from 2008, or by 0.33 tonnes per capita,” the report notes, and so have Icelandic households. However, even so, “…the value for 2016 is still higher than what was calculated for 1995.” The report notes that “[t]he increase in emissions from 1995 to 2007 resembles the general trend for household spending in the years prior to the economic collapse of 2008. The reduction post collapse is also somewhat reflected in the emission trends, but renewal of the household car fleet didn’t start until a few years after the crash.” The outlook isn’t entirely pessimistic, however: “It can be estimated that electrification of the car fleet will further reduce the household emissions after 2016.”

See the full report, in English, here.

Easterners “Celebrate the Darkness” with a Horror Movie Theatre in a Sheep Shed

Teigarhorn, a farm in Berufjörður in East Iceland, is renowned for its zeolite crystals and is, in fact, a designated natural monument and nature reserve. But, RÚV reports, during the annual Dagar myrkurs, or Days of Darkness festival, it’s also host to an entirely different kind of attraction: a horror-movie theatre in a sheep shed.

The horror-movie theatre is the brainchild of Teigarhorn caretaker Rúnar Matthíasson and his wife. “I thought it was an absolutely great idea,” remarked Gréta Mjöll Samúelsdóttir, who is the Economic and Cultural representative for the Djúpavogshreppur municipality. “To watch a sort of sinister movie, and to do it in a sheep shed, in the dark, that’s really something – if people dare to come,” she adds.

Rúnar and his fellow theatre organisers set up folding chairs and put up creepy décor around the barn – bodies lying in the hay, skeletons hanging from the rafters, spider webs – and the district council director himself is in charge of making the popcorn.

The Days of Darkness festival, which began in 2000, is “an eastern phenomenon” says Gréta Mjöll and is meant to “… celebrate the darkness” and give locals something fun to do in the long, sunless days that stretch between the end of summer and the start of the Christmas season. The calendar of events spans all over East Iceland and includes activities for people of all ages, such as scary story readings for children, and a nighttime Ghost Walk around the town of Djúpivogur. Local schools even get into the spooky spirit of the festival and plan activities for their students such as slime-making for kindergarteners.

The festival is much-beloved by locals, says Gréta Mjöll, who might otherwise start feeling down during the monotonous winter days. “It does a lot for a town like ours to have some variety, something different to do.”