'Economics' Tag Archive

Aug 17 2007
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Double Death – Aluminium’s Links with Genocide


By Felix Padel and Samarendra Das, Economic and Political Weekly, December 2005
Cost of resistance

“The evidence we present goes against the conventional history of aluminium, which tends to portray the industry as central to various countries’ economic power and prosperity, without understanding the financial manipulation and exploitation between and within countries, and the true costs.”

Few people understand aluminium’s true form or see its industry as a whole. Hidden from general awareness are its close link with big dams, complex forms of exploitation in the industry’s financial structure, and a destructive impact on indigenous society that amounts to a form of genocide. At the other end of the production line, aluminium’s highest-price forms consist of complex alloys essential to various ‘aerospace’/’defence’ applications.1 The metal’s high ‘strategic importance’ is due to its status as a key material supplying the arms industry. In these four dimensions ‘ environmental, economic, social and military ‘ it has some very destructive effects on human life.
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Aug 10 2007
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A letter to ALCOA from Dr. Ragnhildur Sigurdardóttir and Gudmundur Páll Ólafsson


“The hurt many of us feel towards the developments in eastern Iceland is so great that we will never accept another aluminum smelter to be built in Iceland. We would not be surprised if the environmental NGO’s and grass root organizations would consider the proposed developments in Northern Iceland to be a serious provocation on the behalf of Alcoa.”
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Jul 22 2007

‘The Age of Global Protest’ by Sveinn Birkir Björnsson


Interview with Lerato Maregele and Attilah Springer
Grapevine.isIssue 10, 13 July, 2007

Attilah Springer is a journalist and an activist. She is a part of the Rights Action Group in Trinidad and Tobago, which has fought a long battle against Alcoa over aluminium smelters in Trinidad and Tobago. She recently spoke at a conference for Saving Iceland where she documented the progress of the struggle against the aluminium industry in her country. She is currently staying at the International Summer of Dissent protest camp, organised by Saving Iceland. A Grapevine journalist sat down to speak with Atillah at their beautiful campsite in Mosfellsdalur, joined by Lerato Maria Maregele, an activist from South Africa who has been organising protests against Alcan in her own country. Read More

Jul 21 2007
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‘Blue Eyes in a Pool of Sharks’ by Guðbergur Bergsson


A talk delivered at the Saving Iceland Conference 7 July 2007.
“We have the passive mentality of the eternal colony.”

gb 

 

Jesus, a leader of an upcoming universal power knew that he would soon be physically destroyed when he heard women cry over his condition. He then turned to them and said: “Daughters of Jerusalem don’t cry over me, cry rather over you and your children.”
At that time the Roman Empire dominated the world and the lesson Jesus gave reminded people that destruction was not something that would only happen to him but also to future generations. He seems to have already known that in spite of being the Saviour of the world, his death, uprising and the ethics of his learning, destruction as such would go on having future and be constant in acting of Christian nations, at least the European.
Devastation was obviously the nature of great powers. Read More

Jul 20 2007

Saving Iceland Invades Reykjavik Energy


Saving Iceland Invites Reykjavik Energy to Discuss their Ethics Publicly “STOP PRODUCING ENERGY FOR WAR”

REYKJAVIK – Saving Iceland’s clown army has this afternoon entered the head office of Orkuveita Reykjavíkur (OR, Reykjavik Energy) on Baejarhals 1. Simultaneously, protestors climbed onto the roof of the building unfolding a banner stating ‘Vopnaveita Reykjavíkur’ (Reykjavik arms-dealers). Saving Iceland demands that O.R. stop selling energy to the aluminium corporations Century and ALCAN-RioTinto. 30% of aluminium produced goes to the military and arms-industry (1).

Currently, O.R. are expanding the Hellisheidi geothermal plant at Hengill. “The goal of enlarging Hellisheidarvrikjun is to meet industries demands of energy,” states the Environmental Impact Assessment, particularly the Century expansion at Grundartangi and possible new ALCAN and Century plants at Straumsvik and Helguvik (2, 3).
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Jul 06 2007

Left-Greens Fear Emission Quotas Will Be Used Up


Iceland Review
07/03/2007

The Left-Green Movement political party has urged the government to put an end to further expansion of the aluminum industry in the country. The Left-Green MPs fear that the government’s policy of heavy industry will eventually use up all of Iceland’s carbon emission quota according to the Kyoto Protocol.

When interviewed by RÚV national radio, Kolbrún Halldórsdóttir, the Left-Green’s representative on the parliamentary environmental committee, criticized the government for its ambiguous policy with the potential result of damaging the Icelandic economy.

Katrín Júlíusdóttir, an MP for the Social Democratic Alliance and the chairman of the environmental committee, disclosed that a committee had already been formed with the task of deciding how the emissions quota will be allocated. She didn’t rule out the possibility that companies will have to pay for their use of the quota.

Jul 05 2007

Democracy and Environmental Rationality


Ólafur Páll Jónsson
Reykjavík Grapevine
Issue 7, 31 May 2007

Democracy is hailed as the best form of government, but yet the countries that have been ruled by this best form of government are responsible for the worst consequences in the history of humanity: climate change and other environmental crises threaten the very living conditions of millions of people around the globe and no part of the world will be unaffected. Some people believe that democracy itself is responsible for this severe situation � that democracy as such undermines environmental rationality and plays into superficial and unreasonable preferences while ignoring long term consequences by making environmental decisions subject to procedural standards. In other words, since democracy is primarily about procedures while environmental rationality requires certain outcomes, democracy has no way of guaranteeing environmental rationality.

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Jul 05 2007

Century Smelter to Pay Less for Energy than Farmers


Iceland Review
06/07/2007

Reykjavík Energy Company (Orkuveita Reykjavikur) revealed yesterday that Century Aluminum Iceland (Nordurál) would pay ISK 2.1 (USD 0.03, EUR 0.02) for each kilowatt-hour (kWh) for a planned smelter, while greenhouse farmers pay twice as much.

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May 22 2007
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Rising Ecocide: Nests Swallowed by Water at Kárahnjúkar


nest

The surface of Hálslón, the reservoir by Kárahnjúkar dams in Iceland’s eastern highlands, is constantly rising, swallowing nests and eggs laid by geese. The area is the nesting ground for greylag geese amongst numerous other species of rare and endangered birds. At least 500 greylag nests are thought to be at risk.

According to newspaper Morgunbladid, the birds have not yet realized the changes of their summer habitat, which happened when the glacial river Jökulsá á Dal was blocked last autumn to create Kárahnjúkar dam and Hálslón reservoir. This is to provide energy for an ALCOA owned aluminium smelter in nearby fjord, Reydarfjördur.

A protected area, Kringilsárrani, is also being partly drowned and devastated in full by the project. It is the calving ground of a third of Iceland’s reindeer population, which will be displaced.

The Kárahnjúkar area is the most densely vegetated area north of Vatnajökull, the world’s largest non-arctic glacier. Sixty major waterfalls are being destroyed and innumerable unique geological formations drowned, along with the just recently discovered ancient ruins of Reykjasel, about the most important archaeological find in Icelandic history.

The Kárhnjúkar project entails blocking the silt emissions of two massive glacial rivers, Jökulsá á Dal and Jökulsá í Fljótsdal. This will result in the receding of the combined delta of the two rivers. This will destroy a unique nature habitat in the delta and cause the loss of one of Iceland’s major seal colonies.

seal3

The Kárahnjúkar dams are situated on a cluster of active geological fissures. The government withheld geological reports from parliament when voting on the dams took place.

Campos Novos, a dam in Brazil of similar design, cracked in June 2006. Yet, Campos Novos was built on stable ground. Leading Icelandic geologists to consider the Kárahnjúkar dams a major threat to the local population.

The project was opposed by the Icelandic National Planning Agency due to too much irreversible environmental impact and insufficient evidence for the economic benefits of the project. The verdict of the NPA was overruled by the Minister of the Environment, Siv Fridleifsdóttir.

It is typical for the dishonest methods of the National Power Company (Landsvirkjun) that they pretend that the EIA they present on their Kárahnjúkar website is anything other than their own slanted PR job. You can read the real thing here: ‘Conclusion of the Environmental Impact Assessment of the Kárahnjúkar Project’
The Icelandic National Planning Agency

It is expected that the inundation will be complete in the autumn of 2007. The water levels of the reservoir will fluctuate and the dry dusty silt banks will cause dust storms that will affect the vegetation of over 3000 sq km. It has been estimated that the reservoir will silt up in as little as 40-80 years, leaving a desert where there was one of the most biologically diverse regions of the Icelandic highlands.

So much for the claims of Landsvirkjun and ALCOA that this provides “renewable” and “sustainable” energy!

submerged vegetation

ALCOA are adding insult to injury by demanding another smelter in the north of Iceland. This would entail the destruction of numerous geothermal fields and several major glacial rivers in the north.

ALCOA may think that they will get away with this vandalising of the Icelandic environment and that they can force their presence upon Iceland, against the will of half the nation. They are wrong.

ALCOA are not likely to be forgiven for Kárahnjúkar. Through this project ALCOA have gained many new enemies, both Icelandic and international. In due time these are sure to make ALCOA pay a heavy price for this ecocide.

Beautiful slideshow of the Jokulsa a Bru in all its living wonder, Kárahnjúkar and Töfrafoss in August 2006, just before the inundation. Photos by Christopher Lund. Music by Damien Rice.

For the ecological impact of hydropower reservoirs and glacial rivers see the following articles:

‘Hydropower Disaster for Global Warming’ by Jaap Krater

‘Glacial Rivers Reduce Pollution on Earth’ by Gudmundur Páll Ólafsson

Hydroelectric Power’s Dirty Secret Revealed

For other articles about the environmental impact of the Kárahnjúkar dams see ‘Destroyed Areas’

Campos Novos CU

Campos Novos

Apr 24 2007

Icelandic Government Begs ALCOA Not to Rock the Boat as Landsvirkjun do Not Deliver on Time


Aluminium production in Reydarfjördur begins... using energy from the national domestic grid!

Aluminium production in Reydarfjördur begins using energy from the national domestic grid!

As Saving Iceland and others pointed out a long time ago Landsvirkjun have proven not to be able to deliver energy to ALCOA on 1 April 2007, as specified in their contract with the multinational.

This is highly embarrassing for the Icelandic government and Landsvirkjun, especially as the general elections are coming and the contract they signed with ALCOA specifies that if the energy will not be available on time the Icelandic taxpayer will have to pay penalties to ALCOA.

Apparently the government have begged ALCOA not to mention any penalty payments before the general elections on 12 May. Some weeks ago we had the questionable pleasure to listen to denials in the press that these penalties were ever written into the contract! Yet again, this shows the level of lying that ALCOA and the Icelandic government are ready to stoop to.

Obviously, it is in the interest of ALCOA that the corrupt government which gave them the wilderness of Kárahnjúkar for free, will stay in power.

Aluminium was tapped from the first pot in the new aluminum smelter last weekend. The production process began mid-April.

However, there was a low key ceremony 1 April where the Icelandic PM and other dignitaries cut the red ribbon in the factory (above). But clearly the aluminium lobby felt that making too much of the occasion might backfire PR wise in view of the embarrassing fact that the energy was not coming from Kárahnjúkar, not to speak of the defeat ALCAN experienced in the Hafnarfjordur referendum the night before!

According to mbl.is, 40 pots are expected to be put into operation during this first stage and the smelter will be running 336 pots, its full capacity amount, by the end of the year when the construction of the smelter has been completed.

The smelter in Reydarfjördur has the potential to produce 356,000 tons of aluminum per year. The smelter currently uses 100 megawatts of electricity from the national electricity system, but will need 590 megawatts from the dams in Kárahnjúkar once electricity production begins there… later this year… That is; when Landsvirkjun and Impregilo have scrambled through the last tunnels at what ever the economical and human cost.

Until then, the smelter will not be fully operational and the Icelandic taxpayer will have to foot the bill when ALCOA needs more energy to stay on production schedule (after the elections one can presume!)

For the time being ALCOA hold their breath…

But what about when it comes to the final billing from the “most litigious company in history”, Impregilo?

How much is it going to cost the Icelandic taxpayer when Impregilo have worked out all the delays caused by the deliberately highly inaccurate calculations from Landsvirkjun?

To quote our own SOS: “The Kárahnjúkar project stands as a typical blueprint for international multi-billion-dollar megaprojects where promoters self-servingly misinform parliaments, the public and the media in order to get projects approved and built. The formula for approval is a cocktail of underestimated costs, overestimated revenues, undervalued environmental impacts and overvalued economic development effects.”

If we were not talking about Western Europe’s banana republic, then Icelandic politicians and technocrats who are responsible for this disastrous mess, would be made to answer for their actions in court… But of course, as every one in Iceland knows, they have already rigged the courts with their own family members and party lackeys! Read More

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