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July 2, 2014

Canadian and Icelandic entrepreneurs, who disagree with Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and an assortment of Republican and libertarian political opportunists in Congress on the reality of global climate change, are putting their money where their mouths are. Canadians Sprott and Bambrough are investing in farmland as the grain belt is moving north. They are leasing cheap and underutilized lands in Canada’s prairie provinces from First Nations tribes. The two control more farmland than anyone else in Canada. Icelanders Sverrir Hermann Palmarsson and Guojon Engilbertsson, who have a bulk-water venture in the Westman Islands, just off the south coast of Iceland proper, are now setting up a fish plant in northern Norway. Guojon thinks it is a good time to be “back in fish” because as the ocean warms, many species are moving north. He said that “Mackerel is totally new; it was never here before.”
Such views are echoed by fishermen in the Gulf of Alaska, where fishermen are now netting tropical fish and tropical vegetation for the first time ever. Since Palin doesn’t live that far from the Gulf of Alaska, some 55 miles, and since her husband is a fisherman, one would think she would know about that.
The mayor of Rif reports that he has had visitors in search of bulk water from all over – Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, China et al. Bottled Icelandic water is already available in Europe. Indeed such bottled water is available at the British supermarket chain Tesco, the second largest retailer in the world, which sells such champagne of water while at the same time an Englishman named Jeremy Charlesworth of London complains during a recent drought there that “I could get fined a thousand pounds for running my garden hose!” From the ridiculous to the sublime, but not the worst example – way back in 1977 a Saudi prince who had invested in a water company flew a small iceberg to Iowa, where chunks of it floated in cocktails at the first international conference investigating the use of icebergs as a water source, but iceberg towing didn’t catch on. Nor, so far, have pipelines from Alaska or old retrofitted single-hulled former oil tankers.
The dream of some Icelandic entrepreneurs goes like this: The Arctic is melting; we are on the verge of having the Northwest Passage of yore open up for the transportation of water in a short route over the top of the world to the Orient (or even sooner with the use of ice-breakers); China is overpopulated and what water they have is laced with chemical and other industrial refuse. Petroleum-rich and water-poor nation states in the Middle East are certain to be customers (at least so long as massive desalinizing is uneconomical). Result? We in Iceland are set to be the next Singapore, a prosperous nation state and a commercial hub. My take: In your isolated geographical position and distance from markets, you will never be a Singapore which has billions of people within its orbit, but the rest of your dream is possible.
It is possible because the world needs more than drinking water in shiny plastic water bottles from Krogers and Tesco. With billions more people predicted to inhabit earth in the very near future, we are going to need water more than ever to raise food in now drought-stricken areas, for industry and for increased domestic use due to such a surge in population growth.
Water may supplant oil as the new liquid gold. Human survival without oil would be difficult but possible; human survival without water is not possible. For now it appears that we have enough water for our needs, but the surplus is located in places of least need while the places in most need (and where the most people reside) suffer drought. In the end we must have water at any cost, and it is not too soon to plan ways around shortages in both supply and transportation of such an essential resource to places in most need, given the apparent inevitability of global climate change and our continuing refusal to do anything substantive about the only atmosphere we will ever have, one we are needlessly poisoning day to day. We need not wait until the emergency is at our doorstep; we need action now.
So, good luck, Iceland! Send water. GERALD E


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