This Season, Ptarmigan Shooting Confined to the Afternoons

Rock ptarmigan

After conferring with scientists and other interested parties, Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, the Minister for the Environment and Natural resources, has decided to forbid ptarmigan hunting before noon during this year’s hunting season, RÚV reports. The head of the Icelandic Hunting and Shooting Association says that he is pleased with the Minister’s decision.

“A wholesome walk in nature”

Last week, the Icelandic Institute of Natural History submitted its annual recommendation to the Environment Agency of Iceland concerning the hunting quota of ptarmigan. The Institute advised a quota of 20,000 birds, which is 5,000 fewer than last year.

In response to the proposed quota, Áki Ármann Jónsson, head of SKOTVÍS (The Icelandic Hunting and Shooting Association), lamented the poor state of the ptarmigan stock, saying that this season’s hunt would merely constitute “a wholesome walk in nature.”

The Environment Agency – having taken into consideration the rationale of the Icelandic Institute of Natural History – submitted its proposal to the Ministry of the Environment a few days later. The agency advised that no changes be made to hunting regulations from the previous two years.

These regulations, which were adopted in the fall of 2019 and are in effect for three years, specify the duration of the ptarmigan hunting season as lasting from November 1 to November 30, excluding Wednesdays and Thursdays (a total of 22 days).

A gap of 12,000 ptarmigan

In light of these two differing recommendations, Guðmundur Ingi acknowledged that without changes to the current hunting regulations, 32,000 ptarmigan would most likely be shot this season. To find an acceptable way to close the gap, the Minister called a meeting with representatives of SKOTVÍS yesterday.

After the meeting, Guðmundur announced that the best way to protect the ptarmigan population would be to forbid the shooting of ptarmigan before noon during this year’s hunting season. The minister also admitted that it was unfortunate how late the decision was being made, citing the fact that the Icelandic Institute of Natural History hadn’t submitted their advisement until October 18.

“I wanted to find ways for us to keep to the quota of 20,000 birds. That’s why, after conferring with institutions and the Icelandic Hunting Association (SKOTVÍS), we made this decision today to change the legislation so that hunters will only be allowed to shoot in the afternoon.”

Guðmundur hopes that this alteration will help reduce the number of ptarmigan hunted this season. “We do, of course, encourage hunters to shoot only three to four ptarmigans or to cease completely so that the ptarmigan may enjoy the benefit of the doubt.”

Hunters pleased with the Minister’s decision

Áki Ármann Jónsson, Director of SKOTVÍS (The Icelandic Hunting and Shooting Association), stated that he is pleased with the Minister’s decision.

“I’m really pleased with this arrangement. I want to compliment the Minister for his consideration of our proposals during his decision-making. He listened to our reasoning and entrusted hunters with the responsibility of keeping with the limits of the quota advisement.”

The hunting season begins on Monday.

Iceland Helps China Implement Geothermal Energy

Approximately 2.2 million Chinese residents now heat their homes with geothermal energy owing to a collaboration between Iceland and China, RÚV reports. The partnership has led to a steady increase in the use of geothermal energy in the country.

A long and colourful history

In an interview with RÚV, Páll Valdimarsson, senior advisor with Arctic Green Energy, explained that China’s use of geothermal energy has a long and colourful history. It began when a joint venture company between Iceland and China started developing geothermal space heating stations in Xanyang in 2003.

Later, the project saw two school buildings in the area connected to hot-water boreholes. A partnership, owned by Enex and Sinopec (a Chinese oil and gas enterprise based in Beijing), was established around the project, but the company suffered losses during the financial crisis in 2008. Icelandic investors subsequently came on board, eventually renaming the company Arctic Green Energy.

Currently, the geothermal district heating system in China is five to six times larger than Reykjavík Energy, according to Páll Valdimarsson. It provides approximately 2.2 million Chinese residents with heat for their homes and will reduce carbon emissions by 3.5 million tonnes.

Complete carbon neutrality by 2060

“It’s gotten quite big,” Páll observed, “and I mean China’s a populated place; these things become quite big. Today, Arctic Green provides heat for a total of 60 million square meters, and within these 60 million square meters, there are 2.2 million residents.”

Arctic Green has established a relatively simple district-heating network in China: “We’ve developed a technique that utilizes underfloor heating and simple solutions, which means that Chinese homes only require water that is between 52-55°C. That’s a much lower temperature than we use in Iceland.”

By these means, Arctic Green can use comparatively lower amounts of geothermal energy to good use. According to Páll, the Chinese have been developing technique mentioned above with continued success. He expects the projects to grow even larger in the future. “They’re aiming for complete carbon neutrality in China by 2060. They mean it – and they will accomplish it.”

Is the annual New Year’s Eve round-up comedy show broadcast with English subtitles on any channel/online in Iceland?

New Year's Eve Fireworks in Reykjavík, 2017.

The hour-long TV comedy special aired on New Year’s Eve is called Áramótaskaupið, a neologism combining the words for year, meeting, and comedy. The show has satirised the year’s most significant events with skits and songs since its debut on radio in the 1940s. According to Gallup, 75% of the population watched in 2018, with 98% of active TV sets tuned to the national broadcaster RÚV. The show’s viewership is second only to the annual Eurovision Song Contest.

Every year, Áramótaskaupið is shown in Icelandic on RÚV, and at the same time on RÚV 2 with English subtitles. Both channels are accessible on the RÚV website.

Read more on Áramótaskaupið (Subscription required): Laugh Out the Old

Around One Fifth of Voters Decided on Election Day

Among those who voted in the parliamentary elections in September, 22% decided for whom to vote on the day of the election or inside the voting booth, according to a new Gallup poll. 36% of those who voted for the Social Democratic Alliance made up their minds on election day.

Early voting never been more popular

According to a new Gallup poll, more voters cast early ballots during this year’s parliamentary elections compared to the years previous. Voters gave various reasons for casting their ballots early, among them poor weather, a global pandemic, encouragement by candidates, and more accessible absentee voting stations.

Despite one fifth of voters having made up their minds on the day of the election, more voters also decided for whom to vote more than a month before casting their ballots – when compared to recent elections:

43% decided more than a month before the elections
17% decided the week of the election
12% decided one to two weeks before election day
11% decided on the day of the election
10% decided in the voting booth or the voting station
6% decided three to four weeks before election day*

(99% of those who were polled responded.)

Group differences

According to the poll, men and women differed significantly in their decision-making, with more women than men making up their minds on election day. Similarly, more men than women decided for whom to vote more than a month before elections. Older voters were more likely to reach a decision early when compared to younger voters.

The poll also found that there was a significant difference between voters of different parties; those who voted for the Independence Party, for example, were by far the most likely to have reached a decision more than a month before the election.

When respondents were asked what parties they would prefer to partake in the coalition government, the Progressive party was mentioned most often (77%), followed by the Left-Green Movement (72%) and the Independence Party (57%).