#the-last-wilderness - september 2019

Lapland is home to the last remaining areas of extensive wilderness in Europe. Throughout Europe, the last remaining areas of extensive wilderness are limited to the Arctic regions, and they remain sparsely inhabited and relatively unexploited up to the present day.

But this given impression is severely misleading. Partly because of the sheer size of the area we are talking about. The area of Lapland is about 110.000 square kilometers in size. You have to be willing to take a closer look, otherwise you will miss the small but important details everywhere.

Swedes in general tend to have the attitude of being chosen to save the planet. They often say and confess that they like to keep it sustainable while at the same time driving excessively with their snowmobiles in the winter, leaving their cars running on the parking lot when they are shopping, finding joy in hunting endangered species - like wolves - to near extinction, and so on. There are many more examples. In short: listen swedes - people do not believe what you say, they only believe what you do. So much about that.

There is a lot of talk about climate change these days but it seems as if we have lost sight of the environmental protection and the sense of our responsibility for nature in general. We all have heard about the omnipresent plastics in the oceans. Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastics enter our ocean on top of the estimated 150 million metric tons that currently circulate our marine environments. It’s a catastrophe for many species that ingest plastic and simply die. The marine life has come near to it’s end: the oceans are dying.

Let’s change the geographic focus back to Lapland. Europe’s last remaining wilderness is no longer as untouched as it may seem. Far away from that: the so called „untouched“ nature is nowadays widely filled with garbage. Most of the swedes are regarding nature to be a huge garbage bin.

For the last months I travelled around some very remote places in Lapland to look for traces of environmental pollution. In this part of the project I am focusing on the remains of individuals.

What I found on my travels are the remains of irresponsible people that treated nature as if we had a spare planet in stock.

The omnipresent pollution is so severe that the chances for a recovery are not existing. Even though the situation is not yet as severe as with the plastics in the oceans of the world there are some tricky psychological mechanisms behind the human perception that lead ordinary people to assume that the situation is not that bad. Humans tend to be unable to recognize exponential developments until it is literally too late.

My unpleasant conclusion: We have passed the point of no return and we will have to live with the outcomes (as long as we can).