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Archive for July, 2011

Appreciating the Danish “summer”

Du danske sommer, jeg elsker dig, skønt du så ofte har sveget mig.

This is the initial lyrics of a Danish song praising the Danish summer. Directly translated it goes something like:

Danish summer, I love you, though you often have betrayed me.

Despite its age (the text is from 1923), the weather doesn’t seem to have changed during the years; still we see days of clear skies and sunshine followed by days of cloudy weather and rain. Especially the latter has been the case this year, but unlike many Danes who flees to southern climes – or wish  they did – I am, if not enjoying, then appreciating the rainy weather. After a couple of months in one of the driest parts on earth, I have understood how important and life-giving the drops from heaven are. Not that I do not enjoy and prefer sunshine – alas I do – I just find it difficult to complain about the blessing of a resource that large parts of the world’s population are in deep scarcity of. Of course rain can also have a damaging effect causing flooding, but in Denmark it has largely been pouring silently (and peacefully) down (save one day in the beginning of July when a cloudburst hit Copenhagen and large parts of Sealand causing several damages and one fatality).

Dear Danes, please don’t hate the Danish summer weather too much. Rain is life-giving and without it you wouldn’t have the lush green scenery outside your window, clean drinking water in your tap or fresh vegetables in the garden. Instead you can pray that others will likewise be blessed by the invigorating drops from above.

Public debate about the proposed nuclear plant in Jordan

In the Middle East, the word debate usually refers to a discussion to resolve a disagreement between two or more parties about a subject that touches our daily lives.’A typical debate in Jordan consists of two couples debating about who they should they visit during the weekend: his family or hers, or a group of friends debating about what pub to go to that night, and so forth.

Roaming in the car with my friend Bilal 3 weeks ago, we saw a flyer with a strange heading: Debate. A debate about the proposed nuclear plant in Jordan in 28 of June.We went to the hotel where the debate was taking place. The debate started by welcoming HRH Princess Basma bent Ali, the patron of the debate. The hall was full of ministers, parliament members, national and international energy experts, environmental activists as well as ordinary people. The facilitator, an ex-minister, introduced a German energy expert, who presented the history of nuclear energy and described why countries are now choosing renewable energy. The expert clearly presented the danger of nuclear energy and its high installation and running costs.

After the expert, the head of the Jordanian committee for nuclear energy spoke, representing another stance on the issue. He talked about the relative safety and cheapness of nuclear energy and how it would guarantee Jordan’s energy security. In response, the national energy expert presented facts about nuclear energy in the world, including the danger it poses and the proposed plant in Jordan. He talked about the government’s decision to change the location of the proposed plant from the Aqaba Gulf in the South of the country, where there is the only access to sea water, to the populated desert in the Northeast. He said that not only would it be expensive, but it would be constructed near civilians, putting them at high risk of radiation from the plant. This initiated the debate.

After the debate between the speakers, the facilitator opened the floor for questions, letting the debate run betwen the audience and the guests. Most of the questions were presented by people who were against the plant. This opened up a real dialogue for once: one between the people and their government. We are used to the government making decisions first and then allowing the people to debate, but this time the people could debate with the government and the government had to explain and answer questions about a decision it will make in the future. I hope the government will make the right choice and choose renewable energy sources over dangerous and unsustainable nuclear energy.


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