Along the coast of the Repparfjord, dwarfing the red roofs of a tiny Saami fishing village, loom the icy slopes of the Nussir Mountains: home to Norway's largest untouched copper deposit. Soon, a state-endorsed mining company, with the promise of powering Norway's future "green economy," will start digging—and pumping 74 million tons of rocks and heavy metal waste into the Repparfjord's waters.
Local Indigenous Saami fishers and reindeer herders don't intend for that to happen. This summer, they're protesting: pitching tents where the mountain meets the fjord for two months of civil disobedience and cultural celebration under the midnight sun.
Ask state officials about the mine, and they'll claim a victory for Norway's "green shift" toward a post-oil era. Norway boasts one of the globe’s most ambitious climate agendas with a 98 percent renewable power grid and the highest electric vehicle use per capita in the world. And copper, a superconductive metal, is one engine powering this electric-dependent future.
But in Norway, this clean energy comes with a dirty price—marine waste disposal. Today, only five countries still practice it: Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Turkey, Chile, and Norway. To many local officials, that’s the price of progress. For them, the mine represents a much-needed economic shift away from a faltering fishing industry. This community is already weathering extreme storms and ever-briefer winter seasons in the fastest-changing region of the world. But mining jobs last 20 years at best. And this Saami community has fished these waters for 3,000 years.
Science journalist Brett Simpson will document the protesters in their fight to save their livelihoods and cultural continuity from the state's green dreams. She will also report stories from Norway on other issues related to climate change.