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Everyone knows that Scandinavians lead the field in their commitment, investment, and application of green technologies. This is partly due to the abundance of non-fossil fuel resources. Norway is 96% powered by hydro-electricity due it’s plentiful waterfalls, for example. Denmark – surrounded on three sides by the gusty North Sea – has more windmills per capita, by far, than any other country.

By this logic however, Canada and Argentina would be tapping tidal surges and all of Australia would be fueled with solar power. On the contrary, despite the lack of winter sunlight and over-all sunny days, Northern Europe leads the world in the engineering and application of  solar technologies (Germany is leading the way on this one, with Denmark and Sweden close behind).

Why is this? The citizens on the Danish island of Samso may be an example. Some 10 years ago, this small island of farmers banded together to see if they could be modern world’s first self-sufficient community. And they just announced they are. The incentives to live off the grid are well known: cheaper energy (in the long run), less (or no) pollution, and now in this down economy, an opportunity for new high-tech jobs. For a relatively poor but hard working community, these reasons are self-evident. What’s not explicit, but equally important, is the need for an isolated community to have a shared a common purpose that can form their identity and provide goals for the future. On a larger scale, these Northern countries have the highest taxes in the world, living a socialist ethic that pulls everyone together for the common good (and causes friction with their influx of immigrants – but that’s another story). Whatever your politcal leanings, however, on a smaller scale, this commitment to collaboration and self-reliance can green this planet one island at time.

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