You’re throwing away your inheritance, Norway

On the EDGE: An opinion column about current issues in Norway and the United States—Join the conversation!

The destruction of nature is shocking and embarrassing

Laura Saetveit Miles

Photo: Suzanne Skintveit
Wind power on land is no green solution, writes Laura Saetveit Miles, American immigrant in Bergen.

LAURA SAETVEIT MILES
Bergen

My husband, our 9-year-old daughter, and I moved from Michigan to Bergen, Norway, seven years ago, when I took a permanent job at the University of Bergen (UiB).

We’re thriving here. We have learned Norwegian, found many friends, and bought a house, and of course love to celebrate the 17th of May. We have also fallen in love with the outdoor life, a true Norwegian tradition.

Our friends and family in the United States look enviously on our safe, stable life, and the unbelievably beautiful photos of mountains and fjords that we share with them. Many have visited us as tourists. 

But one thing shocks everyone: that Norwegians apparently don’t have a problem with destroying their pristine nature that they love so much.

I’m thinking particularly about wind power, now being built in large parts of the country. Mountains are blown up and covered in cement, and 820-foot-high wind turbines are put up in the name of the green shift. It is shocking, shameful, and embarrassing—but there is no shame in turning back, people!

Yes, we must fight against climate change and switch away from oil, but wind power is in no way a “green solution.” A typical industrial area for wind power in wilderness areas requires many miles of access roads, up to 50 miles in the biggest parks, and flat installation platforms of thousands of square feet.

Marshes are dug up, fishing lakes filled in, and mountaintops blasted off. Forever! This can’t be “fixed” later on.

When you say yes to wind power, you can wave goodbye to hiking areas. No walking, no camping, no skiing. Ice that is thrown from the turbine blades in the winter means that you cannot go skiing within a quarter mile, minimum, of any turbine without the risk of being seriously injured or killed by razor-sharp pieces of ice as big as a dining-room table.

And you can wave goodbye to foreign tourists, who don’t want to visit a noisy industrial area instead of a quiet wilderness. Nature’s own worth is worth saving in itself, but we should also save the mountains for ourselves and the people of the world to visit and enjoy forever.

Alternatives to wind power can be found. Current hydroelectric power can be made more effective, and wave and solar power can be built up.

Unfortunately, we Americans expect that nature will be destroyed by capitalist corruption. That’s how it is in the United States now, and what happens there is incredibly sad. But here? In smart, happy, social democratic Norway? The land of mountains and fjords?

You throw away your inheritance. My Norwegian ancestors left this land three generations ago to immigrate to the United States, like so many others. But you have received an inheritance directly from your ancestors: gorgeous, beautiful, precious wilderness.

Take care of it. Leave this precious inheritance to the children and to the future. 

Laura Saetveit Miles is an associate professor in the Department of Foreign Languages, University of Bergen, Norway. She is currently producing a video series about the environmental impact of wind power in Norway. You can view the first episode at youtu.be/4qttC1TOva8.

This article was originally published in the May 14, 2020, edition of Bergens Tidende.

The opinions expressed by opinion writers featured in “On the Edge” are not necessarily those of The Norwegian American, and our publication of those views is not an endorsement of them. Comments, suggestions, and complaints about the opinions expressed by the paper’s editorials should be directed to the editor.

This article originally appeared in the July 10, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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