'Dams' Tag Archive

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

Jan 28 2010

Greenwashing Hydropower


by Aviva Imhof & Guy R. Lanza

DamBig dams have a serious record of social and environmental destruction, and there are many alternatives. So why are they still being built?

On a hot May day, a peasant farmer named Bounsouk looks out across the vast expanse of water before him, the 450-square-kilometer reservoir behind the new Nam Theun 2 dam in Laos. At the bottom of the reservoir is the land where he once lived, grew rice, grazed buffalo, and collected forest fruits, berries, and medicinal plants and spices. Now there is just water, water everywhere.

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Jan 15 2010

Green is the New Spectacle


By Jason Slade
Originally published in the Nor easter

The Spectacle

Environmental issues can oftentimes be very complex. Some issues directly relate to climate change, and some do not. However, it is very important to connect the dots between issues because almost all environmental problems are caused, at their base, by capitalist expansion, commodification and privatization. Corporations have used the climate crisis and growing public concern about environmental issues to their advantage. They have learned to use the rhetoric of environmentalism to justify extremely oppressive projects whose sole purpose is to increase their power and to continue the cycle of production and consumption. Incredibly destructive projects, such as hydrofracture natural gas extraction in Upstate New York, are marketed as clean. This absurd spectacle must be stopped.

In Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle, he writes, “The spectacle presents itself simultaneously as all of society, as part of society, and as instrument of unification … The spectacle grasped in its totality is both the result and the project of the existing mode of production. It is not a supplement to the real world, an additional decoration. It is the heart of the unrealism of the real society. In all its specific forms, as information or propaganda, as advertisement or direct entertainment consumption, the spectacle is the present model of socially dominant life … It is the sun which never sets over the empire of modern passivity. It covers the entire surface of the world and bathes endlessly in its own glory.” And now the light of that sun is green. The green spectacle is confronting the climate crisis with hollow solutions presented to us in a pleasant, prefabricated package that can be bought if we can afford them and allow us to pollute in good conscience. In an absurd twist, these corporate false solutions cause the poor, and those who resist these schemes, to be blamed for destroying the planet. “It is not the oil companies who are to blame for climate change, but the poor who do not buy carbon offsets when they travel.” Thus, the climate crisis becomes another way to make money and increase corporate power. Read More

Mar 20 2009

The Dreamland – A Documentary by Andri Snær Magnason




From Draumalandið website – Dreamland is a truly epic film about a nation standing at cross-roads. Leading up to the country’s greatest economic crisis, the government started the largest mega project in the history of Iceland, to build the biggest dam in Europe to provide Alcoa cheap electricity for an aluminum smelter in the rugged east fjords of Iceland. The mantra was economic growth. Today Iceland is left holding a huge dept and an uncertain future

Dreamland is a film about exploitation of natural resources and as Icelanders have learned clean energy does not come without consequence. Iceland is a country blessed with an abundance of clean, renewable, hydro-electric and geothermal energy. Clean energy brings in polluting industry and international corporations. Read More

Feb 09 2009

Iceland’s Ecological Crisis: Large Scale Renewable Energy and Wilderness Destruction


From New Renaissance Magazine

By Miriam Rose

The economic issues currently causing mass demonstrations in Iceland have a less publicised ecological cousin, and one which the IMF has recently identified as part of the economic collapse. In 1995 the Ministry of Industry and Landsvirkjun, the national power company, began to advertise Iceland’s huge hydropower and geothermal energy potential. In a brochure titled “Lowest energy prices!!” they offered the cheapest, most hard working and healthiest labour force in the world, the cleanest air and purest water – as well as the cheapest energy and “a minimum of environmental red tape” to some of the world’s most well known polluting industries and corporations (such as Rio Tinto and Alcoa). This campaigning has led to the development of an ‘Energy Master Plan’ aimed at damming almost all of the major glacial rivers in Iceland, and exploiting all of the geothermal energy, for the power intensive aluminium industry. The loans taken by the Icelandic state to build large scale energy projects, and the minimal payback they have received from the industry, has been a considerable contributing factor to the economic crisis, while at the same time creating a European ecological crisis that is little heard of.

The Largest Wilderness in Europe
I first visited Iceland in 2006 and spent a week with activists from the environmental campaign Saving Iceland, a network of individuals from around Europe and Iceland who decry the fragmentation of Europe’s largest wilderness in favour of heavy industry. From these informed and passionate folk I learned of the 690 MW Kárahnjúkar dam complex being built in the untouched Eastern Central Highlands to power one Alcoa aluminium smelter in a small fishing village called Reydarfjörður. The dams formed the largest hydro-power complex in Europe, and were set to drown 57 km2 of beautiful and virtually unstudied wilderness, the most fertile area in the surrounding highlands. Ultimately it would affect 3% of Iceland’s landmass with soil erosion and river silt deprivation. They also explained how materials in the glacial silt transported to the oceans bonds with atmospheric CO2, sinking carbon. The damming of Iceland’s glacial rivers not only decreases food supply for fish stocks in the North Atlantic, but also negatively impacts oceanic carbon absorption, a significant climatic effect. After taking part in demonstrations at the construction site of the Alcoa smelter (being built by famous Iraq war profiteers Bechtel), I went to see the area for myself. Read More

Sep 18 2008
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Solidarity Actions in Copenhagen – No More Dams; No More Smelters!


Today we received a letter from Denmark:

This morning, big banners were hanged on a building in Copenhagen saying: ,,Aluminium Industry is destroying all major Icelandic rivers!” A big advertisment from Icelandair Airline Company, showing Icelandic rivers, was hanging on this same wall last week.

The construction of the planned new Century aluminium smelter in Helguvík and Alcoa’s smelter in Húsavík, will lead to damming of more glacial rivers and geothermal areas. Today it looks like dams will be built in Þjórsá River, Tungnaá, Skjálfandafljót and Jökulsá á Fjöllum; only for further heavy industry projects.

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Aug 18 2008
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Grand Canyon Dam Bursts


Supai damUS rescue crews have airlifted some 170 people to safety from a remote village in the Grand Canyon after a dam burst following days of heavy rain.
Grand Canyon National Park spokeswoman Maureen Oltrogge said water from the Redlands Dam had caused flooding in a side canyon containing Supai village. The area, accessible only by foot, on horseback or by air, is home to 400 members of the Havasupai tribe. Most people have been accounted for but searches will resume later on Monday. Read More

Jun 24 2008

Fast to Death Against Ganges Dam


Dr G. D. AgrawalDistinguished Indian environmental scientist Dr G. D. Agrawal today began his commitment to fast until death unless the country’s government heeds protests and warnings against the construction of several hydroelectric power dams on the River Ganges.
On the festival of Ganga Dusshera marking the birth of the river Ganges, crowds gathered on the banks of one of its tributaries, the sacred Bhagirathi river, to begin a day-long collective fast in the north Indian town of Uttarkashi, a gesture repeated by thousands throughout the country to show support for eminent scientist Dr G. D. Agrawal in his protest against proposed and ongoing hydroelectric construction schemes in the area a protest which will see him fast until death unless all such development work is stopped. Read More

Nov 28 2007
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Plans to Dam Farið River in Southwestern Highlands


Reykjavík Energy (OR) is examining the feasibility of harnessing Farid, a river that runs out of Hagavatn lake, south of Langjökull glacier in Iceland’s western highlands, and constructing a 30 to 40 MW hydroelectric plant there.

Farid would be dammed and another dam would also be constructed above Leynifoss waterfall, Morgunbladid reports.

The Ministry of Industry granted permission earlier this year for OR to examine this possibility and to see whether the prevention soil eruption and production of hydroelectric power could go together.

Employees of the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland have long considered damming the river to prevent soil eruption in the area since they believe it originates in the dried-up base of Hagavatn lake.

The Icelandic Institute of Natural History, however, believes that if Hagavatn lake is used as a reservoir, soil erosion from its base will increase in late winter and early summer.

Director of the Icelandic Tourist Association Ólafur Örn Haraldsson is against the plans. “A dam and a power plant will destroy one of the most spectacular land formation processes of Langjökull,” he said, adding the area is like an open and easily readable geology book.

Haraldsson said the area is becoming an increasingly popular hiking destination, which has the potential to become as popular as Laugavegur hiking route to Landmannalaugar, south Iceland.

Oct 08 2007

Behind the Shining: Aluminum’s Dark Side


An IPS/SEEN/TNI report, 2001

This important and lengthy report from the Washington based Sustainable Energy and Economy Network is highly informative about the operational structure of the aluminum industry and the resulting impacts on human rights and the environment.

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