Mette Tolstrup, 51
Mette Tolstrup is a lifelong environmental activist. “It’s not as if I suddenly became afraid for the groundwater. I’ve been worried for 30 years – that’s why I’m an organic farmer.” Tolstrup’s commitment to the environment is clear, but she feels that her concerns are being ignored by the local authorities and representatives of the water treatment plant.
She has lived in Vendsyssel most of her life and feels an obligation to the cause. “This fracking happens to take place exactly where I live. I thought, ‘you can do something about this, Mette’. After all I can’t be in the arctic or stop oil extraction in Nigeria but here I can show that this is so very unwanted. It simply must be stopped.”
Kirstine Kornø, 69
Like many Total Protest activists, Kirstine Kornø frequently references documentaries from the US and Australia that illustrate the dangers of unrestricted fracking. She has organized several movie showings, helped collect signatures, distributed information, and is generally active in camp life. A teacher by profession, she never engaged in civil society to this degree prior to hearing about Total Protest.
“It worries me that there aren’t more young people up here – you might have noticed that we’re pretty old around here,” she says, adding that the young people she met while collecting signatures seemed disinterested. “I thought that was eerie – it’s them that this will affect!”
John Mathiasen, 53
John Mathiasen’s political activism started in Denmark’s anti-atomic energy campaign during his youth. To him, the anti-fracking movement belongs to a broader debate about our future energy security. The question is, what risks are we willing to put up with in the future for energy today? “They might drill in thousands of places north of Limfjord – it’s going to touch everyone in Denmark. Especially North Jutland.”
Like many he’s concerned that few youth are involved in the Total Protest movement. He reasons that it’s partly due to a lack of young people in North Jutland, but he has also sensed disinterest when approaching youth. He hopes some will stick around and spread the message on Facebook and other new media.
While many involved at the camp have long been environmental activists, some first became politically active when they learned about fracking in their backyard. One late starter is 71-year-old Inge who visits the camp regularly with supplies and amenities.
“I’ve been a good girl all my life! I was a teacher. It took until I was 70 years old to be involved in anything like this,” she says, emphasising that her involvement is not party political. “I can’t understand why people won’t listen to those of us who live here. I’ve been here for over 40 years because I like being in the country – the peace.”
Aage Olsen, 61
The serenity and beauty of Vendsyssel is never far from camp conversation. Aage Olsen offered to tour me around the nearby nature soon after my arrival. His pride was visible but he also remarked simply. “But after fracking? It’ll be gone. Dead.”
Olsen has lived at the camp for about eight months but insists he simply takes things one day at a time. To him it’s not a question of if there’s contamination – but how bad the contamination ends up being. “I got involved because I live here and leakage of fracking chemicals will be catastrophic for generations. This will have huge consequences for our farmers and anyone drinking the water.”
Sonja Marie Larsen, 68
Sonja Marie Larsen and Katrine Winther delivered materials about the risk of earthquakes and contamination in Vendsyssel. “When Katrine told me that the Total people are saying the Oklahoma earthquakes don’t have to do with fracking – oh I just laughed! Oh they’re not gonna get away with that – people aren’t so dumb that we’ll buy that!”
Larsen is baffled that the local tourist bureau hasn’t opposed fracking vocally. “We have our clean water and nature – and that’s it!” M