In general, I’m a calm and collected person. I have a high threshold for becoming emotionally upset. But today, that limit was surpassed. I came across a piece in the Norwegian newspaper VG about the ridiculous behavior by tourists mountaineering in the Norwegian wilderness. Last year I watched a documentary about the same problem. As a person that greatly enjoys the bountiful beauty found in nature, the fundamental lack of preparedness displayed by these tourists infuriates me.
At the root of the problem is the fundamental lack of a basic understanding of what nature is. This same problem is shared with many environmentalists. The truth is that nature, especially the deep wilderness is not conducive to human life. Nature is not your friend. Disney movies are not lifelike representations of what the animal kingdom is all about. If you set out into the wild, you need a sense of respect for the facts. You need to be prepared. Whenever I go hiking for a day, I always “overprepare”. I bring excess food, water, clothing and other equipment just in case. If I get lost, I have enough excess supplies to sustain myself comfortably until I can find my way back to civilization. If I ever need to call for help on my phone, I have a USB-battery pack to ensure I have enough power. These are simple basics that should be self-explanatory to all.
Having good values is also key. It has been ingrained in me from childhood as part of Norwegian culture to have the respect I mentioned above. A famous saying says, “that it isn’t shameful to turn around”. The numerous cases of people ending up in danger from their own lack of preparedness or simply from a lack of common sense is indicative of the general societal breakdown of our culture. Only selfies and bragging rights apparently matter. Such behavior is extraordinarily disrespectful towards the volunteer rescue workers that end up with the task of saving lost tourists wandering about. A lot of search and rescue work is dependent on volunteers that don’t even get paid or charge for their services.
In the aforementioned piece in VG, we can see what could be described as the “crown jewel” of this disrespectful conduct. A four-year-old child was left at an emergency survival hut by his parents while hiking to the famous tourist destination “Trolltunga”. The parents abandoned their child, just so the parents could enjoy the view. First of all, a four-year-old child has no business being on that hiking trip. It is long and taxing. You need to an adult in good physical condition to make the trip. What kind of parents brings their four-year-old? And then abandon him! Even worse, the piece mentions that inside the hut (intended for emergencies only) there was another child! What are you doing Norwegian parents?!
Examples like this one makes me wonder whether the emergency infrastructure encourages risk-taking behavior. Would the parents mentioned in the story have made the trip if they had known that there was no emergency cabin or helicopter rescue services available? I think our society could benefit from a national discussion about this moral hazard.