From Iceland — What Are Icelanders Talking About: The Machine Must Be Fed

What Are Icelanders Talking About: The Machine Must Be Fed

Published January 6, 2022

Photo by
John Pearson

You’ve heard of COVID fatigue; now get ready for volcano fatigue. A series of earthquakes near Fagradalsfjall that began on December 21st caught more attention with international readers than it did with the locals. The quakes have since calmed, prompting a number of scientists to compare the situation to the run-up to the eruption last March—without explicitly saying that another eruption is on the way. This news has been greeted with more of a shrug than a shriek, probably due in no small part to the current disaster we have going on in the pandemic, which leads us to…

As the Omicron variant runs rampant across this country, Icelanders were more than a little bit confused by Minister of Health Willum Þór Þórsson announcing new pandemic “restrictions” that essentially amounted to little more than slightly lowering the social gathering limit and re-enacting the two-metre rule. This was followed by Minister of Schools and Children’s Affairs Ásmundur Einar Daða­son announcing that he was not only not going to extend the end of winter break for schools from January 4th to January 10th, as chief epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason had recommended; he also told reporters that it was absolutely crucial to send kids back to school—despite this variant showing particular virulence amongst children. On top of all this, hospitals are already stretched to the limit, but many health care workers have had to go into quarantine or isolation on account of coronavirus infections or the risks thereof. With all this being the case, we probably shouldn’t expect to get out of this pandemic any time soon.

Fireworks were briefly a hot topic in the run-up to New Year’s Eve. As with every year, there were people pointing out how polluting fireworks are, how they frighten animals, and how hazardous they can be in the hands of intoxicated adults. Whenever any of these things were pointed out on social media, there was always a cadre of people who baulked at the suggestion to buy fewer or no fireworks, with some vowing to buy even more. Come New Year’s Day, winds mercifully swept the heavy metals and other pollutants away (from us, at least), but already-overstretched hospitals reported treating numerous fireworks-related injuries, and brush fires caused by fireworks erupted across a significant portion of South Iceland.

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