The series of interviews presented in this book were originally conceived as a part of a wider project, investigating the ways in which Nordic people relate to nature. That project, entitled “Nature, National Identity and Environmental Policy in the Nordic Countries”, was initiated in 1995 by Elfar Loftsson and Ulrik Lohm from the University of Linköping; Páll Skúlason and Þorvarður Árnason from the University of Iceland; and Lars Henrik Schmidt from the University of Århus. The project was intended from the outset to be interdisciplinary, with sociological, anthropological and philosophical methods to be applied in the investigation. Originally, the project involved three Nordic countries: Sweden, Denmark and Iceland. Parts of the project were undertaken in all three countries so that it would be possible to compare the results, whilst other parts were carried out separately in each country. The largest common sub-project was a questionnaire survey that was carried out in 1997 and investigated views of nature, and environmental concerns, amongst the general public in Sweden, Denmark and Iceland.In connection with the questionnaire survey, it was decided to invite an experienced journalist to join in the project and to ask him to interview people with various backgrounds, in order to elicit from them, in a personal manner, their ways of valuing and relating to nature. In addition to being of interest in themselves, the interviews were intended to complement the other parts of the project. Páll Skúlason had worked earlier with Jacques Gandebeuf when he came to Iceland in the wake of the volcanic eruption in the Westman Islands in 1972 to interview people about their experiences of living in a close Páll Skúlason and dangerous relationship with nature. Thus, Páll knew about Jacques´ skills as an interviewer, his great experience as an environmentalist, and his remarkable talent as a writer; and it was agreed to ask him to do the job. He accepted the assignment, and in this book the reader is presented with the results.
Jacques Gandebeuf was born and brought up in Clermont-Ferrand, in the centre of France. He studied law and economic history before turning to journalism. From 1966 to 1992 he worked as a major reporter and editorialist in the great regional journal Républicain Lorrain, published in Metz in the north of France. During this period, he covered all the great events in the world, traveling to more than 80 countries. He also become an active member of the association of journalists and writers for ecology and wrote extensively on environmental issues. After retiring in 1992 he has written some ten books, among them My Father’s Accent, which is a work of fiction on the linguistic problems of Lorraine, and three books on the experiences of people in that region during the two world wars. A specialist of European affairs, his personal interests bear particularly upon music and also upon sculpting, an art at which he himself excels.
In connection with the Nordic project, Jacques conducted his first series of interviews in Iceland in 1996 and a second series in Sweden in 1997. For various reasons, he was unable to conduct any interviews in Denmark before the project came to an end. In the year 2000, however, the opportunity arose to survey Norwegian views of nature, thanks to the assistance of Gunnar Skirbekk at the University of Bergen, and the interviews contained in the present volume thus include the perspectives of three Nordic nations.
These interviews were conducted in the period when environmental issues of all sorts were for the first time in history commanding public attention. Since then these issues have become progressively more and more the concern of public debates. In these debates what is most important are the various sentiments, feelings and worries that people have, and may share, all over the world. It is vital that politicians, scientists, entrepreneurs, and others engaged in decision-making that affects nature, take into account the ways in which people value and relating to nature. This book should be extremely useful for achieving an understanding of the attitudes and feelings that people have. Jacques was of course entirely free to conduct and present the interviews in whatever way he thought best. To my mind he has succeeded in revealing, in an exciting and interesting manner, how ordinary people in a certain part of the world felt and thought about nature at the end of the 20th century. It remains to be asked how people will feel and think about nature at the end of the current century, if we humans are still around and if there is still be a nature to which we can relate.
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press , 2006. , 229 p.