'Climate Change' Tag Archive

Mar 17 2006
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Iceland: Greenpeace’s Shameful Silence


By Merrick

The Icelandic government is planning to destroy the largest remaining intact wilderness in Europe by building the Kárahnjúkar dam. It will be the largest dam of its kind in Europe, creating a reservoir of around 60 sq km. It’s not just that the submerged land will be obliterated, but the land beyond the dam will be deprived of water.

The area is land of huge ecological significance, designated an environmentally protected area, the oldest surviving areas of Iceland’s original vegetation. Around 380 square miles will be directly affected, with adjacent rivers, land and sea secondarily impacted.

To give you some context, it’s a reservoir roughly the size of Oxford with devastating direct impact on a surrounding delicate unspoilt ecosystem the size of Greater London. Read More

Mar 13 2006

Saving Iceland European Tour


boldformation2

The Saving Iceland European popular education and workshop tour continues into Spain today. After an amazing welcome in Ireland at the Anarchist Bookfair in Dublin and then with such an inspiring and successful visit to the Shell to Sea campaign at Rossport in the North West of Ireland the tour hopes to continue in the same vein, discussing the issues around heavy industry, climate change and the industrialisation and corporate sell off of our environment. We have already seen many links between the Saving Iceland campaign and other campaigns so far and hope to report more on similar struggles and the links and friends we make along the way as the weeks unfold. Read More

Feb 15 2006

14 March Day of Action against Dams, and for Rivers, Water and Life


From International Rivers Network

14 March is the International Day of Action against Dams, and for Rivers, Water and Life.

Inspire better stewardship of our rivers by taking bold action. Every year on at this time, people around the world lift their voices to celebrate victories such as dam removal and river restoration; to demand improvement in policies and practices of decision makers; and to teach others about issues threatening rivers and communities. Join us for the International Day of Action. The rivers cannot speak for themselves.

Take action for Rivers, Water and Life!!

For more information see: www.irn.org

Jan 31 2006

State TV Host Growls One Night and Fawns the Next


Grapevine.is

On 5 January Icelandic State TV host Kristján Kristjánsson interviewed Damon Albarn in the news programme Kastljos. The following night Kristjánsson interviewed the Minister of Industry Valgerður Sverrisdóttir. Below, for comparison, are the transcripts of both interviews and an analysis of the contents.

Interview with Damon Albarn:

Intro: Announcer points out that Damon Albarn “was a pop star in the late 1990s”, and will be playing a concert with Björk on January 7. (A curious introduction, as Damon Albarn’s band Gorillaz was both one of the best-selling and most critically acclaimed bands of 2005.)

Kristján Kristjánsson: Are you very much involved in these issues, nature conservatism [sic]? Read More

Aug 29 2005

Iceland: Dam Nation by Merrick


Hjalladalur 

With the growing awareness of climate change, carbon emission restrictions may not be too far off. Because countries that pollute the most may well get the heaviest restrictions, rather than seeking to reduce their emissions many industrial corporations are looking to move operations abroad.
Iceland, despite modern European levels of education, welfare and wealth, has almost no heavy industry. Their carbon rations will be up for grabs. Seeing the extra pollution coming, in 2001 Iceland got a 10% increase on the CO2 limits imposed by the Kyoto treaty. The problem is that the lack of heavy industry means a lack of the major power supply needed for such things. But Iceland has glacial rivers in vast areas unpopulated by humans; land for hydroelectric dams that can be seen as carbon-neutral. Read More

Jun 20 2005
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Answers from those Arrested at Hotel Nordica 14 June 2005


Answers to common questions about the ‘skyr action’ at Hotel Nordica 14 June, 2005.

 

the messenger 

Why this conference?

* It was a conference for aluminium and the related industry leaders from all over the world.

* They were here because they think Iceland is right for heavy industrial development. Ironically, this is down to its clean environmental record.

* The people gathered there were key decision makers, financiers and policy drivers behind the Karahnjukar project and other heavy industry developments across Iceland which we oppose.

* A session entitled “An Approach to Sustainability for a Greenfield Aluminium Smelter” started at 11:45 on the day. Hosted by Joe Wahba of Bechtel Corporation and T.M. Sigurdsson of Alcoa, the outrageous hypocrisy of the seminar was extremely provocative to those who truly aspire to the ecological value of sustainability. Read More

Jun 04 2005

The Grapes of Vaði – Interview with Guðmundur Ármannsson Farmer at Vað and Host to Saving Iceland Protest Camp in 2005


Grapevine Issue 6, August 2004 with update Jan. 2006

In the 1930s, dust storms swept the southern plains of the United States. The “Black Blizzards,” as they were called, had come about because of overfarming, which had caused the topsoil to wear thin and become dust. Crops failed, and as the banks that held the mortgages realised they would not be getting returns on their interest, farmers were run off of their land. Their plight is immortalised in the songs of Woody Guthrie and John Steinbeck’s book “The Grapes of Wrath”, which went on to become a Hollywood film starring Henry Fonda as Steinbeck´s protagonist Tom Joad. Read More

Mar 04 2005
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Ice Burks! – Schnews


This article served as a follow-up to  the ‘Power Driven’ article published in the Guardian in November 2003.

Schnews, 4th March 2005, Issue 487

Super-cool Iceland, the eco-tourist’s wet dream, right? Maybe not for much longer if the Icelandic government has its way.

You see, they’ve got a cunning plan to turn the whole country into a heavy industry paradise for all sorts of multinational scum, damming and flooding and generally trashing nature to power up a bunch of giant aluminium smelters and other slight blots on the landscape.

This is not an early April fool – it’s already started. The construction of the giant Karahnjukar dam in the Icelandic Highlands – one of Europe’s last surviving wildernesses – is well under way. Landsvirkjun (the national power company, a government quango) has a raft of further projects that would see 25% of the entire country dam affected by 2020: some vision.

Karahnjukar and most of Landsvirkjun’s future schemes harness glacial rivers fed by Vatnajokull – the biggest non-arctic glacier in the world. This glacier is the heart of a fantastically intricate eco-system: barren red and black Martian landscapes; geo-thermal springs and pools hot enough to take a bath in; rivers banked by deep, springy emerald green moss woven with tiny red and yellow flowers where no-one’s ever walked; the glacier’s own fantastic ice caves; seal breeding grounds on the black sand deltas to the north. All this will be destabilized and damaged forever if these dam projects are allowed to happen.

An international protest camp this summer aims to halt this war on nature. It’s going to be one hell of a struggle since the Icelandic government seems determined to push these projects through, no matter what opposition it faces.

What’s going on at Karahnjukar demonstrates the way that government operates. When plans for the mega-project were first submitted to the National Planning Agency (NPA) in 2001 they were rejected because of the “substantial, irreversible, negative environmental impact” the dam would have. All the experts agreed with this verdict (see IRN’s report linked below). But the environment minister overturned the NPA’s ruling and declared that in her opinion the project was environmentally acceptable – of course she is suitably qualified to decide on environmental issues – she’s a physiotherapist! There were a few financial hiccups with banks getting all ethical but Barclays bravely stepped forward with the necessary dosh – even though they’d signed up to the Equator Principles which demand “sound environmental management practices as a financing prerequisite.”

Work started in July 2003, with Italian bully-boys Impregilo (construction arm of Fiat, currently charged with corruption in Lesotho and ‘financial irregularities’ at home) and a terrifying squadron of Caterpillar bulldozers began to claw up and dynamite the fragile sub-arctic tundra. Reindeer, arctic foxes, other small animals and thousands of bird species that lived there fled in fear.

FROZEN ASSETS

All electricity produced at Karahnjukar is contracted to a massive Alcoa aluminium smelter (being built by Bechtel, due to be operational in 2007) which itself will pollute and ruin Reydarfjordur, a pristine eastern fjord. A Reykjavik court recently ruled that Alcoa’s planning permission for this monstrosity isn’t valid, but that probably won’t stop them as they immediately appealed to the – allegedly – rigged High Court.

Karahnjukar won’t benefit Icelanders at all: none of the electricity is destined for the national grid and cos there’s little unemployment in the region no Icelander’s gonna want a nice healthy job at the smelter thanks.

Yet the cost to the nation is enormous: independent experts say the economy is at risk (see IRN report), it has cost $1 billion so far and is likely to cost more – the electricity for Alcoa is for a price linked to the changing prices of Aluminium on London Metal Market…in other words no guarantee it’ll ever make a profit.

The environment suffers more by the day. They’ve already blown part of Dimmugljufur – Iceland’s Grand Canyon – to smithereens, and if they fill up the reservoir (scheduled 2007), 65.5 square kilometres of pristine wilderness will be completely submerged. This land includes birthing grounds for the majority of Iceland’s reindeer and Ramsar ‘protected’ nesting sites for endangered species such as pink-footed geese, and Gyrfalcon. Sixty waterfalls will be lost as will a range of sediment ledges – judged completely unique in the world by scientists studying global warming – which record 10,000 years of geological and climate change. And this vast projected reservoir would extend right onto the glacier itself, which is breaking up because of global warming. Wouldn’t giant icebergs trucking up to the dam be a bit – er – dangerous? Yep. And it gets worse – the dam is being built over a seismic fault!

airial

Earthquake zone at Kárahnjúkar volcanoes
White lines = Ground rock cracks
Yellow lines = Erosion of sediments. Erosion is parallel
to cracks: Sediments are cracked, cracking is still active
.
In 2003, Landsvirkjun’s chief, Fridrik Sophusson, was asked what would happen if there was an earthquake under the dam. “It would burst,” he smiled calmly. “A catastrophic wall of water would annihilate everyone in Egilsstadir [the nearest town] and all the neighbouring farms would be swept away.” Icelandic Tsunami anyone? “It won’t happen,” he added smugly. Yet in August 2004 there were continuous earthquakes at Karahnjukar for several days.

Environmentalists also warned that silt residues left by changing water levels round the projected reservoir would dry to a fine dust which the wind would carry onto local farmland. This was dismissed, yet last summer silt left in the wake of unexpected surges in the newly diverted glacial river produced just such devastating dust storms.

But none of this makes any difference: while everyone else in the ‘developed world’ is busy dismantling dams, Iceland’s rulers just can’t get enough. There are plans to dam every major glacial river in the country. Rio Tinto Zinc are reportedly salivating over the chance to devastate the North of the country, while Alcan and Century (who’ve already got smelters near Reykjavik) are keen to expand their deathly shadow in the south.

Ironically, the government- via its tourist board – still invites visitors to enjoy the “unspoilt pure natural beauty” it’s hell-bent on destroying! So how do they get away with it? Well, Iceland has a tiny population (290,000) and power is concentrated in the hands of a few very wealthy families who control politics, industry and the media. Scientists, journalists, anyone who asks questions is swiftly discredited and then sacked.

But it’s not all bad news and you can even help. A really vigorous and up-for-it grass-roots environmental movement is emerging, determined to stop Icelandic nature being pimped to the highest bidder. It’s a David v. Goliath battle and the call is out for international support.

If you are up for peacefully showing your solidarity with some of the most fantastic nature on our planet, check out www.savingiceland.org and joining the protest camp summer 2005.

http://www.schnews.org.uk/archive/news487.htm

Also in pdf.

Feb 26 2005
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Environmental Impact of the Kárahnjúkar Dams


throng

 

The Kárahnjúkar Power Plant is the largest industrial development in Iceland’s history. Roughly 3% of the total area of Iceland, approx. 290,000 ha, will be impacted by the project, not including areas of secondary impacts, such as windblown dust, long-term erosion, downstream or coastal silt and soil deposits, alterations in groundwater characteristics in peripheral areas with resulting changes in vegetation and wildlife habitats. Read More

Feb 26 2005

Hydroelectric Power’s Dirty Secret Revealed – New Scientist


Hydroelectric dams produce significant amounts of CO2 and methane – some produce more greenhouse gases than fossil fuel power plants.

Duncan Graham-Rowe, New Scientist, 26-2-2005, issue 2488

Contrary to popular belief, hydroelectric power can seriously damage the climate. Proposed changes to the way countries’ climate budgets are calculated aim to take greenhouse gas emissions from hydropower reservoirs into account, but some experts worry that they will not go far enough.

The green image of hydro power as a benign alternative to fossil fuels is false, says Éric Duchemin, a consultant for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). “Everyone thinks hydro is very clean, but this is not the case,” he says.

Hydroelectric dams produce significant amounts of carbon dioxide and methane, and in some cases produce more of these greenhouse gases than power plants running on fossil fuels. Carbon emissions vary from dam to dam, says Philip Fearnside from Brazil’s National Institute for Research in the Amazon in Manaus. “But we do know that there are enough emissions to worry about.”

“Reservoirs convert carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into methane, which has 21 times the warming effect” Read More

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