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Chances are that somewhere on the internet you’ve heard
the “ fact ” that Iceland was named Iceland by its viking settlers
to stop their enemies from coming to the island.
Well, that fact is about as wrong as pineapple on pizza.
The truth is that the first norse settler of the island was
feeling a lot bummed out upon the arrival since his daughter and livestock died on route,
so he just stayed for the winter before returning to Norway,
and since the particular area he stayed in happened to be icy,
he figured all of the island was icy and therefore called it Iceland.
Of course that’d be as absurd as, you know,seeing that the sidewalk was flat,
and deciding the whole earth must be flat, or something.
Iceland is cold and has plenty of snow and ice during winter,
but as a whole, the country is fairly green.
Still for such a northern and wintery country,
the idea that it imports ice is pretty absurd.
Nonetheless that is reality,
but Iceland’ s ice importation has a surprisingly rational explanation
Now taking ice from one place and selling it to another is nothing new.
El Chapo就精通此道 但事实上
El Chapo was great at it but as it turns out,
centuries ago people’s refrigerators didn’t have ice dispensers.
For the majority of history, people just dealt with having warm drinks like cave-people
but when the 19th century rolled around that all changed.
An entrepreneur named Frederic Tudor
started taking ice from cold places like Maine
and selling it in hot places like Cuba.
Only problem——ice melts.
Frederic understood this and insulated his cargo with sawdust
and with enough ice, at least some of it would
make it through the 1,600 mile journey from Maine to Cuba.
At first Frederick received a frosty reception from
the hot place people as they were doubtful that they needed ice
so Frederic channeled his inner drug dealer and gave them
their first bit of ice for free to get them addicted.
soon business was booming.
Now places like New York and DC get too cold
in the winter for people to want ice
but in the summer, they too get swelteringly hot,
so Frederic wanted to make a way to be able
to sell ice in the mid-Atlantic summers
Really the only solution was to take a whole lot of ice,
put it in an insulated building,
and hope some of it lasts until summer,
and crazily enough, that worked.
Most of North America started to rely on ice,
so it was time for Frederick to take the ice trade intercontinental
The rest of the world also had hot places like India,
so Frederic Tudor set up a regular shipment of ice
to Calcutta, India, which became hugely popular with the rich English colonialists
who were used to cooler temperatures.
Amazingly, he had the process refined so well at that point
that the ice from New England
was selling in India for, adjusted for inflation,
only $1 per pound.
Soon after, the ice from New England was shipped and sold
in London, in Rio de Janeiro,
in Cape Town, in Hong Kong,
the New England ice even reached as far as Sydney, Australia,
where it sold for only $2 per pound.
So was it a coincidence
that the climate started rapidly warming only a century
after the world’s elite started using ice
shipped from the other side of the world by steamship
all, so they could have a chilled beverage?
I’m not saying that the ice trade singlehandedly caused climate change,
but it certainly didn’t help.
of course with time artificial refrigeration became cheap and widespread
but not before making Frederic Tudor a very rich man.
Iceland today, despite what some may think it
is not some backwards heathen society
that shuns the use of refrigerators.
Its importation of ice has to do with something else—economics.
you see, Iceland is a very expensive place.
Like many isolated and northern counties,
Iceland relies on imports for many things like oil,
wood, wheat, and other food.
It just doesn’t have the ability to produce these items domestically
due to its geography but shipping to Iceland is also relatively cheap,
since its economy is export-driven.
While fish is Iceland’s biggest export
this is mostly shipped by plane
but the country also has an enormous aluminium industry
thanks to its low electricity cost.
Aluminum, along with most everything else Iceland makes,
is exported by ship, which means
that there’s the demand for shipping from Iceland.
That means that ships are already coming to Iceland
to bring items elsewhere so it’s relatively inexpensive
to fill those ships with other goods to bring to Iceland,
at the same time the average Icelander makes about $57,000 per year.
It’s one of the highest income countries in the world,
so that means making things in Iceland, in most cases, is expensive.
If you go and check your handy dandy Icelandic schedule of tariffs,
though, you see that water, ice, and snow have no import duty
if imported from the European Economic Area.
Therefore, Iceland imports ice from other less expensive countries in the EEZ
such as Scotland and the only additional cost is the cheap shipping.
While there are plenty of other countries
that don’t charge import duties on ice,
there are few that have the mix of
high domestic labor costs and cheap inbound shipping
that make it worth it for Iceland to import ice.
That’s why Iceland’s grocery stores are being stocked with
this imported ice from hundreds or thousands of miles away as
it ends up being about 40 % less than Icelandic ice.
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