May 15 2006

All Day Protest Outside the ‘Economist Roundtable for Iceland’ Conference

The conference was organized by the Economist magazine but sponsored by Alcoa and other companies. In the publicity material for the conference, the Economist (in its guise as the ’Economist Intelligence Unit’!) promoted the conference as discussing amongst other things how Iceland can supply all of Europe’s energy needs with clean energy.

In the build up to the conference, outraged Icelanders contacted the Economist and pointed out that even if every drop of energy was squeezed from the land without any other considerations, it would still only produce 1% of Europe’s requirements. Also the energy that will be produced is actually very far from clean energy. In fact its filthy dirty.

The Economist replied that what was in the publicity material was, “marketing-speak geared to creating interest for the event.” They continued, “The journalistic approach from The Economist itself would certainly carry a different, more balanced and researched perspective.”
The unwitting honesty of this reply speaks volumes. Nuff said.

More wriggling and squirming followed about the role of the sponsoring companies, (Just supporting the conference financially, otherwise neutral.) Then they tried to suggest that the conference represented a balance of the opinions on the issues under discussion. Only problem with that being that the, ‘critical’ voice was that of a conservative opposition MP, who had actually supported the dam project wholeheartedly!

The Economist finished their response, by saying that the ‘marketing speak’ (also known as blatant lies) had now been removed from all publicity materials and thanked the activists for highlighting these inaccuracies!

On the day of the conference there was a demonstration from 7am to 8pm outside the Nordica Hotel, which is situated on one of the busiest roads in Reykjavik. A sound system and live bands played throughout the day, spreading good vibes to all. At the height of the protest over 40 people were present, holding banners, giving out information, talking to passers-by; demonstrating the anger they felt at the destruction of their precious environment for short term greed. Many more participated throughout the day and hundreds of passing motorists honked and yelled their support.

Those taking part in the action ranged from schoolchildren and college students to womens groups, environmentalists and grandparents. Many spoke of being greatly empowered by the day.

These were more fat drops of rain, as the storm of our resistance and refusal, continues to gather and grow.