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    Some things you should know about Denmark...

    By Stephanie
    Jun 7, '10 4:49 AM EST

    Well we just finished our semester on Friday, and dang it feels good to be done! Summer recently deigned to touch upon Copenhagen for a few days, and those days brought out an issue which I think is necessary to discuss.

    Copenhagen. The greenest city on earth? So they say--or at least, so they brand. Are there windmills? Yes. Do people bike en masse? Definitely. Do they do these things because they sincerely believe that they should work to make a difference in the world, and view the earth as a precious network of biodiversity and delicate relationships?

    No.

    The Danes are simply following instructions. Ultimately there may be a few very environmentally aware people, especially in previous governments (like, over a decade ago when many of the green measures Denmark is known for were implemented).

    For the most part, however, there is a disturbing attitude towards product usage and personal responsibility regarding picking up after oneself.

    Myth #1: The harbor water in Copenhagen is SO CLEAN you can swim in it.

    Maybe. But I wouldn't take the chance. The amount of public urination that goes on directly into the water here is astounding. I hesitate to sit on grass in public areas because there's an ingrained stench of old pee. That's not to mention the amount of trash that gets hucked into the water on a daily basis.

    image

    image

    Toilet with a view... BONUS!

    image

    "Nothing to see here, just taking in the environment while peeing, and wallowing amongst our own filth."

    Myth #2: Danish people are uber-super environmentally aware.

    All you have to do is look at the photos from different public areas around Copenhagen to see that the Danes have a completely indifferent attitude towards littering. What this exhibits is a 'the world is my personal trash bin' mentality which is totally out of keeping with real mindfulness.

    image

    "Nothing like spending a nice Sunday afternoon in a landfill!"

    When this issue has been mentioned to Danes at school, they either act surprised that anyone would notice the garbage, or think you should be impressed by the fact that it will all be cleaned up by the next morning by an army of literally thousands of street sweepers and garbage collection trucks. The amount of wasted tax money going into something so ridiculously simple as cleaning up after people on a sunny day at the park is mind boggling.

    image

    "The best part about having a barbeque in the park is that you don't have to clean up afterwards!!"

    The attitude is: I don't have to do anything about it, because there is someone whose job it is to clean up. It's all going into the incinerator anyways, so what matter if I put it in the trash can or someone else does? Besides, it's creating a job for someone.

    image

    "What littering problem? Don't worry, someone is going to pick it up by lunchtime."

    Sad. Very sad. It makes the public parks into abominations any time people have more than 15 minutes of leisure time to sit and vegetate and get publicly wasted in the sun.

    Myth #3: Denmark is a vanguard in green power technology and usage because they care about their impact on the earth.

    Everyone's heard about the BP oil spill off the coast of Florida. But has anyone heard about the Danish company Maersk oil spill in the north sea from one of their off-shore oil rigs? No. Do you know why? Because, to paraphrase, since the oil will not reach the coast of Denmark and therefore poses no risk to human life, IT'S NOT A PROBLEM.

    Hm.

    This spill has been going on for some weeks now, and there is no publicity, no public outrage or outcry... in fact it's kind of reminiscent of propaganda how closed off the Danish media is to this story.

    And apparently, unless human life is at risk, thousands of barrels of oil spilling into the North Sea isn't seen as an issue. Nevermind the ocean. It's just a deep, dark, mysterious watery blob with strange looking alien-like slimy things. Who obviously have no need of protection from an oil spill.

    You have to be critical of these things... you have to, because otherwise the smug complacency will continue to fool the world into thinking that everything here is hunky dory, and unsuspecting students like myself will be deluded into coming here to study and be inspired.



     
    • 3 Comments

    • wow. keep making noise, stephanie! powerful post.

      Jun 7, 10 6:58 am  · 
       · 
      Byxbee

      stephanie,

      is it possible those pictures you took were after some large event? i remember chillin in kings garden and never noticed that amount of trash (or any really).
      I definite saw the "All Danes are environmentally conscious" mtyh. When i was there, I noticed they used these little plastic bags to make ice cubes instead of a tray. Once you tore the ice cube out for your drink, you couldn't use the bag again. I probably don't know enough about that plastic, but it seems like more waste is created using up bag after bag than using one tray over and over again. :o/

      Jun 7, 10 12:20 pm  · 
       · 

      i definitely noticed the trash and i was surprised when my danish hosts were surprised when i noticed it. especially at night with all the broken glass bottles all over the streets. i was instructed to never throw away a beer bottle, because someone else would come by and want to collect it for the refund. which is considerate in a weird sort of way.

      but, the only pre-conception i had about cph before coming to cph was that i would love the architecture scene, and i did. so i wasn't disappointed at all. just another flawed society....ultimately aren't they all? are there not any interesting things going on in cph (that you wouldn't have experienced in canada) worth being inspired about?

      love that last urination pic.

      Jun 7, 10 10:45 pm  · 
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