SHORT: BOUVET ISLAND

This morning I came across a reference to uninhabited Bouvet Island, the most remote island in the world. There is a certain synchronicity at work here because a few minutes into reading about the world’s most isolated island, our power went out.

No man, or woman, is an island but being suddenly plunged into darkness at 4:30 AM sure makes you feel that way. And what’s worse, I stepped outside and saw the folks across the street had their outdoor lights on as well as my neighbors on each side. I’ve been singled out for some reason.

The nearest land to Bouvet Island is Antarctica, 1,100 miles south. The nearest inhabited land is South Africa 1,600 miles northeast. The barren island is 19-square miles in area with almost all of it a glacier. The center of the island is an ice-filled crater from an inactive volcano. There is only one small point of access.

Bouvet Island is located down by Antarctica just outside of the Antarctic Treaty System meaning a government can lay claim to it. One has, and here’s where it gets curious. Bouvet Island is a part of Norway.

Yes. Norway, in the arctic circle at the other end of the world. Now you don’t usually think of these quiet Scandinavians, with their majestic fjords and lip-licking (from the salt) lutefisk, as acquisitive when it comes to expanding the realm. But apparently they were this one time.

For lord-knows-why reasons, the amicable Norwegians disputed none other than the greatest global colonizing kingdom in history – the British Empire. At the height of the British Empire’s expansion around the world, Norway disputed the superpower in the early 1900’s for the icy tidbit half a world away, and won.

So many questions; all involve “why?” Why Norway? Why Britain? Why fight over it at all? The sheer magnitude of effort and inconvenience of sending a ship down there to check on it once in a while seems the very epitome of government sewage. Great fodder for a Dilbert cartoon.

Ah, lights are back on. Wonder what that was about.

Bouvet Island is a metaphor for useless fights with useless wins and losses. The dispute between Norway and Britain probably wasn’t really about the island at all but rather, as most fights are, an incremental escalation of anger compensating for small egos, like on Facebook. Just another reminder to make life easier and stop stressing about made-up, uninhabited stuff that doesn’t matter.

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