TIME energy

The World’s 10 Biggest Energy Gluttons

Reykjanes power station in Iceland, seen in 2013.
Reykjanes power station in Iceland, seen in 2013. Halldor Kolbeins—AFP/Getty Images

See where the United States falls on the list

This post originally appeared on OilPrice.com.

Next time you get into your car and drive to the supermarket, think about how much energy you consume on an annual basis. It is widely assumed that Westerners are some of the world’s worst energy pigs. While Americans make up just 5 percent of the global population, they use 20 percent of its energy, eat 15 percent of its meat, and produce 40 percent of the earth’s garbage.

Europeans and people in the Middle East, it turns out, aren’t winning any awards for energy conservation, either.

Oilprice.com set out to discover which countries use the most energy and why.

Related: Why Energy Efficiency Is The Most Important Fuel We Didn’t Know We Had

While some of the guilty parties are obvious, others may surprise you. A note about the figures: we used kilograms of oil equivalent (koe) per capita, which refers to the amount of energy that can be extracted from one kilogram of crude oil. “Koe per capita” can be used to compare energy from different sources, including fossil fuels and renewables, and does here. The numbers represent the most recent data available from the World Bank.
World Development Indicators

1. Iceland – 18,774 kg. Yes, that’s right, Iceland. Of all the countries in the world, including the richest and largest oil producers, Iceland consumes the most energy per person. How can that be? The reason is basically overabundance. With most of Iceland’s energy coming from hydroelectric and geothermal power, Icelanders are some of the planet’s least energy-conscious. Click here for a fascinating video of why the Nordic nation uses so much energy.

2. Qatar – 17,418 kg. Qataris are addicted to oil. According to National Geographic, the population is provided with free electricity and water, which has been described as “liquid electricity” because it is often produced through desalination, a very energy-intensive process. Qatar’s per capita emissions are the highest in the world, and three times that of the United States.

3. Trinidad and Tobago – 15,691 kg. Trinidad and Tobago is one of the richest countries in the Caribbean, and the region’s leading producer of oil and gas; it houses one of the largest natural gas processing facilities in the Western Hemisphere. T&T is the largest LNG exporter to the United States. Its electricity sector is entirely fueled by natural gas.

4. Kuwait – 10,408 kg. Despite holding the sixth-largest oil reserves in the world, and an estimated 63 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, the demand for electricity in Kuwait often outstrips supply. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Kuwait is perpetually in electricity supply shortage and experiences frequent blackouts each summer. The country has become a net importer of natural gas to address the imbalance.

5. Brunei – 9,427 kg. The tiny sultanate on the island of Borneo, apart from being a substantial producer and exporter of oil and natural gas to Asia, is also a habitual power hog. The nation of roughly half a million has the region’s highest number of cars per capita. Brunei also subsidizes both vehicle fuel and electricity, which is sold to the public at below-market prices.

6. Luxembourg – 7,684 kg. Landlocked Luxembourg is almost totally dependent on energy imports, mostly oil and gas. Energy consumption has increased 32 percent since 1990, with transportation responsible for 60 percent of the intake, according to an EU fact sheet.

7. United Arab Emirates – 7,407 kg. Nothing says conspicuous energy consumption like Ski Dubai. The indoor resort featuring an 85-meter-high mountain of man-made snow burns the equivalent of 3,500 barrels of oil a day. The World Resource Institute estimates the UAE uses 481 tonnes of oil equivalent to produce $1 million of GDP, compared to Norway’s 172 tonnes.

Related: Africa and Belgium Generate the Same Amount of Electricity – But That’s Changing

8. Canada – 7,333 kg. Oh, Canada. Kind, peace-loving Canadians certainly love their cars, along with space heaters, hot tubs and other energy-sucking toys. But while many equate Canada’s energy sector with the oil sands, it is, in fact, other forms of energy that account for the lion’s share of consumption. EcoSpark published a pie chart showing over half (57.6 percent) of Canada’s electricity comes from hydro, with coal the second most popular choice at 18 percent. Nuclear is third (14.6 percent), with oil and gas comprising just 6.3 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.

9. United States – 6,793 kg. As the world’s largest economy and richest nation, the U.S. should obviously be included as a top 10 energy glutton. However, one puzzling fact is that despite annual economic growth, per-capita U.S. energy consumption has remained around the same level since the 1970s. According to the EIA, one explanation is that the U.S. has simply shifted the energy required to satisfy greater consumption to manufacturing centers offshore.

10. Finland – 6,183 kg. With over a third of its territory above the Arctic Circle, a cold climate, sparse population and a highly industrialized economy, it is no wonder that Finland is among the highest per-capita energy users in Europe. However, according to the International Energy Agency, Finland plans to diversify its economy away from carbon-based fuels, through a shift to renewables, including biomass, and has approved construction of two new nuclear plants.

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TIME Iceland

Iceland Is Running a Gender-Equality Conference Without Any Women

Iceland's Foreign Minister Sveinsson addresses the 68th session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York
Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, minister for foreign affairs of Iceland, addresses the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York Sept. 30, 2013. Adrees Latif—Reuters

The "Barbershop" conference aims to encourage men to talk about gender equality among themselves

Iceland is organizing a gender-equality conference that won’t have any female attendees.

In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Monday, Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson said the “Barbershop” conference aims to bring together a group of men discussing gender equality among themselves, focusing particularly on violence against women.

“For our part, we want to bring men and boys to the table on gender equality in a positive way,” he said, describing the first-of-its-kind conference as an “exceptional contribution to the Beijing+20 and #HeforShe campaigns.”

The event will take place in January and will be co-hosted by the South American nation of Suriname, according to Sveinsson.

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TIME Iceland

Watch Iceland’s Bardarbunga Volcano Spew Lava Into the Air

Bardarbunga has been erupting since Aug. 31

These beautiful images, filmed by Nature Explorer, capture the moment Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano shoots lava into the air.

Bardarbunga has been spewing out fountains of molten magma over the Holuhraun lava field since it started erupting on Aug. 31.

But the volcano is also emitting noxious gases, like sulfur dioxide, which are putting the health of scientists working at the site at risk, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Residents living in the region have reported a stench in the air.

“It smelled like old redfish,” 68-year-old Unni Johansen, told the Journal.

Children and those with respiratory problems are being advised by Iceland’s health authorities to stay indoors, as scientists have traced the volcano’s toxic gases as far afield as Norway and Finland.

[WSJ]

TIME Iceland

See Iceland’s Volcano Raging Under the Northern Lights In 1 Amazing Image

The Bardarbunga volcano erupts under the aurora borealis in the Holuhraun lava field in the east highlands of Iceland near Snæfell on Sept. 2, 2014.
The Bardarbunga volcano erupts under the aurora borealis in the Holuhraun lava field in the east highlands of Iceland near Snæfell on Sept. 2, 2014. Gísli Dúa Hjörleifsson

Since the Aug. 31 eruption of Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano, the world has watched in awe as it spews glowing red lava into the desolate landscape. Bardarbunga has stemmed a series of earthquakes through the country, but the eruption has also become the subject of some incredible photographs, videos, and satellite images.

Icelandic photographer Gísli Dúa Hjörleifsson, who is also a ranger in the area, may have captured the most epic images of all: the hot glow of the volcanic eruption underneath cool and ethereal haze of the northern lights, or the aurora borealis.

The Bardarbunga volcano erupts under the aurora borealis in the Holuhraun lava field in the east highlands of Iceland near Snæfell on Sept. 2, 2014. Gísli Dúa Hjörleifsson

“In my many years of working in the highland of Iceland both as a photographer and ranger, I . . . have a knowledge of the nature and especially the way the light has an huge influence in the landscape,” Hjörleifsson told TIME. “Knowing the current situation of the volcano I wanted to capture this unique situation. I drove up in the area surrounding the volcano and watched the the sky until I could see the northern lights taking shape. That interaction with the heat and color from the volcano created a completely new color palette I have never seen [before].”

TIME Iceland

Look at These Incredible Close-Ups of a Volcanic Eruption in Iceland

Among the first scenes from Bardarbunga's latest activity

Update: Sept. 3, 1:56 p.m.

Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson has been photographing volcanoes in Iceland for four decades, so it makes sense that he’s keeping a close eye on the latest activity at Bardarbunga, which rests on the northwestern edge of the Vatnajokull ice cap.

Bardarbunga, which is classified by Iceland’s meteorological office as its second highest mountain, is topped with glacial ice. Officials say the current bout of seismic activity began on Aug. 16 after a gradual intensification over the past seven years.

While this volcano has not yet led to the same transportation mayhem that the Eyjafjallajokull eruption did in 2010, when more than 100,000 flights were canceled and Europe’s airspace was closed for six days over fears that billowing ash could harm aircraft engines, travel warnings have been elevated to “orange,” which means the volcano “shows heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption.”

Sigurdsson, 56, of Arctic Images, is based near the Icelandic capital, Reykjavík. He and a friend traveled an hour and a half in a two-seater plane from Akureyri, in the north, to Bardarbunga and the nearby Holuhraun lava field. No one lives at this barren location, but heavy seismic activity to the north has led to closed roads and the evacuation of tourists.

“We flew as close as we possibly could — and legally permitted,” Sigurdsson tells TIME. Officials had briefly raised the warning to “red” after a fresh lava eruption, which barred their aircraft from descending lower than 6,000 ft.

Sigurdsson seated himself behind the pilot and opened a window to shoot. Heavy turbulence made for a rough session, though. “I was strapped down into my seat and was still thrown up to the ceiling,” he says. In terms of gear, Sigurdsson used a Canon 5D Mark III with a 70-200mm lens, as well as two Sony cameras with a 24-70mm lens.

“We would stay upwind at all times,” he says, adding that the plane could only spend just less than an hour at the site. “We did some circles around the volcano, and then we had to leave because the weather was getting so much worse.”

Sigurdsson knows the scenes look intense but relishes working in such extreme environments. “It looks like we are daredevils or Indiana Jones or something,” he says, “but we were playing it safe. We knew exactly what we were doing.” Still, with thousands of earthquakes over the past few weeks, there are concerns that a big one could open up another fissure, which could lead to a large eruption.

He returned the next day under better weather conditions.

TIME will be publishing more exclusive images from Sigurdsson as events progress.

TIME Iceland

Eruption Causes Iceland to Temporarily Close Airspace

Warning sign blocks  road to Bardarbunga volcano in north-west region of Vatnajokull glacier
A warning sign blocks the road to Bardarbunga volcano in the north-west region of the Vatnajokull glacier, Iceland on Aug. 19, 2014. Reuters

Following thousands of earthquakes, Iceland has been watching a volcanic site for more than a week.

Iceland closed airspace near an erupting volcano Friday, according to its Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management. Initially, the department closed airspace up to 18,000 feet near the Bardarbunga volcano, but it later reduced that ceiling to 5,000 feet after an investigation found the eruption produced little of the airborne ash that’s dangerous to aircraft.

Icelandic scientists have been watching the Bardarbunga area closely over the last week after thousands of earthquakes rocked the area, indicating the potential for the kind of ash-producing eruption that could seriously impact global air travel. Back in 2010, thousands of flights were delayed following the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano.

Iceland has recently raised its aviation alert level to red at least twice, only to later reduce it after ash clouds were found to be minimal. The Ministry of Civil protection has been posting regular updates about Iceland’s seismic and volcanic activity on its social media pages:

All Icelandic airports are currently operating as normal.

TIME Iceland

Iceland Lowers Alert for Volcanic Eruptions a Day After Raising It

Volcano eruption risk moved to red
A general view of a road closure to the Vattnajokull glacier the site of the Bardarbunga volcano under the Dyngjujokull ice cap in Iceland, Aug. 24, 2014. Vilhelm Gunnarsson—Fretabladid/EPA

Iceland lowered its aviation alert for the volcano to orange on Sunday

Updated Sunday, August 24 at 10:00 a.m.

A subglacial eruption is underway at Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano, where there have been thousands of earthquakes in the past week, Iceland’s Meteorological Office said Saturday.

Seismic data suggests that volcanic lava is melting ice beneath the Vatnajokull glacier, said seismic vulcanologist Melissa Pfeffer, Reuters reports. It’s unclear whether the eruption will break through the ice and shoot steam and ash into the atmosphere. The amount of ash produced in a larger eruption would depend on how thick the ice is, Pfeffer said, with thicker ice likely to cause a more explosive and ash-rich eruption.

On Sunday, Iceland lowered its aviation alert level to orange from red, saying there is no sign of an eruption at the Bardarbunga volcano. Iceland had said the day before that an eruption could cause “significant emission of ash into the atmosphere” and set its alert level for the volcano to the highest degree, red.

Ash clouds can cause a massive headache for international airlines, as aircraft have to be rerouted to avoid them. More than 100,000 flights were cancelled in 2010 after the eruption of Eyjafjallajokul, an Icelandic volcano that produced a cloud so large it obstructed air travel.

[AP]

TIME Iceland

Threat Level of Iceland Volcano Raised

Lava Lady Captures Spectacular Eyjafjallajokull Eruption
Eyjafjallajokull erupts, producing a cloud of vapor on May 10, 2010 in Iceland. Barcroft Media/Getty Images

Iceland raises Bardarbunga volcano threat level alert to orange

Correction appended, Aug. 19

In 2010, the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland erupted, costing airlines billions of dollars in canceled flights. Now, another volcano in the country may be ready to do the same.

The Bardarbunga volcano’s eruption threat level was raised to orange Monday, the second-highest level. When the Eyjafjallajokull erupted four years ago, the ash cloud that resulted disrupted European airspace for six days, canceling 100,000 flights, affecting 10 million travelers and costing the airlines almost $2 billion, according to Bloomberg News. Though ash may not necessarily cloud the sky, its chemicals can damage aircraft engines.

The threat level went up after an earthquake hit the area where the volcano is located on Monday, the strongest the Bardarbunga region has experienced since 1996. Another eruption would likely lead to either flooding or an emission of gas, the Icelandic Met Office said in a statement.

“Presently there are no signs of eruption, but it cannot be excluded that the current activity will result in an explosive subglacial eruption, leading to an outburst flood and ash emission,” the Met Office said.

Correction: The original version of this story misidentified the Bardarbunga volcano.

TIME Television

Now You Can Plan Your Very Own Game of Thrones Vacation

Arya Stark and The Hound
Helen Sloan—HBO

You might not be able to go to Westeros or Essos, but you can still visit all the places that play them on TV

Game of Thrones is done for roughly the next 10 months, sadly. On the bright side, you can use the off-season to travel to all the places that the show is filmed—assuming you, die-hard fan that you are, haven’t already done so. Hopper, a Boston and Montreal-based travel planning site, has done most of the hard work for you, putting together a detailed map of the major GoT filming locations.

The site also breaks down the destinations by both season and house (Lannister, Stark, Targaryen, etc.), so it won’t be too difficult to pledge allegiance to a particular one. Or you can just pull a Littlefinger and pick and choose whatever suits your desires at that particular moment.

The vast majority of production takes place in Europe (Ireland, Iceland and Croatia are three of the more popular settings), but Morocco in northern Africa has also played host to some of Daenerys Targaryen’s conquered cities. This won’t come as a particular shock to fans of the show, but the destinations cut a fairly wide swath of climates and terrains, so if you can find the time (and money) to tour all of them before Season 5 kicks off next spring, there’s little chance you’ll get bored.

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