Archive for June, 2011

Jun 29 2011
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The Icelandic Geothermal Cluster: Banks, Universities, Ministries, Energy Companies and Aluminium Producers Join Forces


Dozens of Icelandic companies and institutions, all directly connected to the heavy industrialization of Iceland, have established a co-operating forum concerning the development of the so-called “Icelandic geothermal cluster”. The forum, which was formally established yesterday, June 28th, is originally a conception by Dr. Michael Porter, professor at Harvard Business School and known as “a leading authority on company strategy and the competitiveness of nations and regions.” Interviewed by a news-report TV show Kastljós, Porter, who was in Iceland to take part in the forum’s formal establishment, said that Icelanders are “too cautious” when it comes to “using the opportunities that consist in geothermal energy and the nation’s expertise on the issue.” Contrary to Porter, environmentalists and Iceland’s National Energy Authority fear the overexploitation of geothermal resources. Read More

Jun 24 2011
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Environmentalists Excluded from Master Plan on the Future of Nature Conservation


At the beginning of July the results of a framework programme, concerning the exploitation and protection of Iceland’s natural resources, will be presented publicly. The timing of the presentation has much more to do with demands from the labour market agents, rather than the government’s will to try to reach a settlement about the result, according to the Icelandic Nature Conservation Association (INCA, or NSÍ in Icelandic), which is highly critical of many aspects of the making of the framework programme.

One of the association’s primary criticisms is directed towards the fact that a particular committee, nominated to sort the areas in question into three different categories: protection, hold and utilization – did not include a single representative from environmentalist organizations. Whereas representatives from the energy and tourism industries, as well as the ministries of environment and industry, had seats on the committee. The viewpoint of nature conservation has thus no spokesperson in the working progress, states a press release from INCA. Read More

Jun 23 2011
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The Reykjavík One: The Trials and Tribulations of Geir H. Haarde


By Snorri Páll Jónsson Úlfhildarson
Originally published in The Reykjavík Grapevine

A little more than a year ago, several Icelandic bankers were arrested and kept in custody in relation to the Special Prosecutor’s investigation into the 2008 economic collapse, its antecedents and causes. Appearing in political TV talk show Silfur Egils shortly afterwards, French-Norwegian magistrate Eva Joly, who at that time served as the Prosecutor’s special assistant, talked about how society does not expect—and has problems to deal with—politically and economically powerful people being arrested, interrogated and possibly sentenced.

Eva Joly was right. And the reason? Habit. Whether a journalist, police officer, lawyer, judge or a powerless citizen, in a civilised society based on dualistic ideas of good and evil, one is most likely unable to recognise well-dressed and eloquent people—with possessions and power in their pockets—as anything other than good. During the interview, Eva compared those people with drug users and dealers that are brought to court, who generally are immediately seen by society as criminals deserving to face “justice”. Another rightful comparison would be political dissidents. Read More

Jun 10 2011
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Increased Sulphur Pollution in Reykjavík Due to Geothermal Expansion in Hellisheiði


The Public Health Authority of Reykjavík is highly critical of the recently published preliminary Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for a 45 MW construction of geothermal power plants at Gráuhnjúkar on Hellisheiði. The reason is that the EIA, carried out by engineering firm Mannvit, hardly mentions the possible effects of the project’s sulphur pollution on the human population living in the capital area of Reykjavík. “They mention the impacts of increased amount of hydrogen sulphide at the power plant area, but hardly mention the capital area where a high proportion of the population lives” said Árný Sigurðardóttir from the Public Health Authority in an interview with newspaper Fréttablaðið. The power plant in Hellisheiði is only about 30 km away from Reykjavík.

Since October 2006 Orkuveita Reykjavíkur (Reykjavík Energy) has produced geothermal energy on Hellisheiði, predominantly for the Norðurál/Century aluminium smelter in Grundartangi, Hvalfjörður. Since then increased sulphur pollution in the power plant’s surrounding area, as well as in the area around Reykjavík, has regularly become a topic of discussion and Sigurðardóttir says that the pollution’s impacts are systematically underestimated. Instead of using recent researches into the issue, Mannvit bases the EIA on prediction-models, but new studies by the University of Reykjavík indicate that the increased use of medicine for asthma and heart disease angina pectoris is directly linked to increased sulphur pollution. Read More

Jun 08 2011

A9ainst – Documentary About the Reykjavík Nine Premiered This Weekend


This weekend a new documentary about the Reykjavík Nine will be premiered in Iceland. The film, called A9aginst (Ge9n in Icelandic), is directed by author, philosopher and filmmaker Haukur Már Helgason and will be shown at the documentary film festival Skjaldborg, in Patreksfjörður (on the Westfjords), on June 11th. According to the film’s website, “this feature-length documentary is a portrait, or rather nine portraits, of people charged and prosecuted in Iceland for ‘attacking parliament’ in December 2008.”

In a conversation with online newspaper Róstur, the director explained briefly his motivation for making the film:

I make the film… well, I guess because there one catches a glimpse of some potential, some possibility, a will for another kind of society, in the minds of a group of people who the state power has, by charging them, defined as a certain set. The charges basically call for an investigation about who these people, defined as enemies, are, and which thoughts someone somewhere can find so dangerous – because it was clear from the beginning that it was not the “action” in the parliament that was considered so dangerous. Read More

Jun 07 2011
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The Reverend Billy Project – New Book About to be Published


Our good friends, Reverend Billy and Savitri D, from the Church of Life After Shopping!, are about to release a book that covers the last few years of their work, includes campaigns in NYC and around the world, including Iceland, organizing they have done with many of you and stories from the field. The book, titled The Reverend Billy Project: From Rehearsal Hall to Super Mall with the Church of Life After Shopping, will come out this summer and on June 13th, Reverend Billy, Savitri D. & The Stop Shopping Gospel Choir will perform “radical fun, fresh musical offerings and damn the mono culture polemics” in Housing Works Bookstore & Cafe, New York.

In July 2007 Reverend Billy and Savitri D joined Saving Iceland’s international conference, titled Global Consequences of Heavy Industry and Large Dams, which Billy presided. A few days later Billy, Savitri and Saving Iceland exorcised heavy industry in Iceland during a ceremony in shopping mall Kringlan, Reykjavík. A year later Billy sent Saving Iceland a letter, inspired by his participation in 2007, which can be read here. Read More

Jun 04 2011

Fundamental Questions About Modern Civilization Itself – Arundhati Roy on “Broken Republic”


In the video above, Indian author Arundhati Roy talks about her recently published book, Broken Republic: Three Essays, and how the Indian government is, along with international mining corporations, violating the indigenous of India, destroying their lands and displacing them, leading to a constantly increasing gap between the rich and the poor. One of the book’s essays, titled “Mr Chidambaram’s War”, focuses on the Dongria Kondh tribe in Odisha, who have fought against Vedanta’s and ALCAN’s bauxite mining for aluminium production over the last decades.

The following text explains Broken Republic’s content briefly:

War has spread from the borders of India to the forests in the very heart of the country. Combining brilliant analysis and reportage by one of India’s iconic writers, Broken Republic examines the nature of progress and development in the emerging global superpower, and asks fundamental questions about modern civilization itself.