Join 3,380 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Dreamland
June 27, 2008 12:51 PM   Subscribe

Tomorrow, Björk, Ólöf Arnalds and Sigur Rós are teaming up for a free concert - Náttúra - which aims to raise awareness of the proliferation of aluminium smelting plants in Iceland. Held in a large park near the centre of Reykjavik, will be broadcast live on the Nat Geo Music and all of the performances will be in broad daylight with Iceland’s dramatic rolling scenery providing a perfect backdrop to what is expected to be one of the biggest concerts the country has seen. The festival also aims to publicize Andri Snær Magnason's book Dreamland: A Self-Help Manual to a Frightened Nation, an Icelandic bestseller about the environmental situation that will be published in an English translation next month.

Björk:

"Too often battles being fought for nature turn into something negative and into mudslinging. We will not go that way, we are not saying that this and that is forbidden, we are rather asking 'what about all these other possibilities?' The 21st century is not going to be another oil century but rather a century where we need to recycle, think green and design both power plants and our surroundings in harmony with nature."


Sigur Rós vocalist Jón Thor Birgisson:

"We are not a political band and don't think musicians should set themselves as spokespeople on anything at all, but sometimes you see things going on in your own backyard and find that just as a human being you cannot stand by and do nothing. The changes that are going on in Iceland need to be the subject of debate and not snuck through the back door because no one lives in the wilderness and there is urban apathy or a general lack of awareness."

In 2007, Björk released the Grammy-nominated Volta, her sixth studio album. Sigur Rós has just released Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust.
posted by chuckdarwin (39 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Björk, Ólöf Arnalds and Sigur Rós are teaming up for a free concert - Náttúra

It'll probably suck, but you know: everybody's a diacritic.
posted by rokusan at 12:59 PM on June 27, 2008 [13 favorites]


FUCK THAT SHIT! WE WANT EINAR!
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:10 PM on June 27, 2008


More about aluminum smelting in Iceland:

Official website for the project to build the new smelters/hydro station
Album of area to be/being inundated (in Icelandic; photos by famous Icelandic journalist Omar Ragnarsson)
Wikipedia page about the project

From what I've read (especially from the National Geographic Magazine article a few months ago) this is the largest project ever to happen in Iceland, and it's captured the attention of the whole country. The aforementioned Ragnarsson founded a political party around this issue, which did not receive enough votes in the 2007 election to enter the Althing, Iceland's parliament.
posted by mdonley at 1:12 PM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ghostigital is on the bill, I think... it wasn't clear on some sources or on his site.
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:17 PM on June 27, 2008


THANKS, mdonley - that really rounds out my post. Awesome photos.
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:26 PM on June 27, 2008


I'm confused. Is aluminum good or bad today? I can never keep up with this sort of thing. Kinda like eggs.
posted by Caduceus at 1:27 PM on June 27, 2008


RE: FUCK THAT SHIT WE WANT EINAR! :

Náttúra: Björk - Sigur Rós - Ghostigital & Finnbogi Pétursson - Ólöf Arnalds in Concert 28. June 2008
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:30 PM on June 27, 2008


Caduceus -

The process produces a quantity (as small as 0.5 kg per ton of aluminium in the best plants in 2007, up to 4 kg per ton of aluminium in older designs in 1974) of fluoride waste: perfluorocarbons and hydrogen fluoride as gases, and sodium and aluminium fluorides and unused cryolite as particulates. Unless carefully controlled, these fluorides tend to be very toxic to vegetation around the plants.

The Soderburgh process produces significant emissions of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons as pitch is baked to form the electrodes.

The linings of the pots end up contaminated with cyanide-forming materials; Alcoa has a process for converting spent linings into aluminium fluoride for reuse, synthetic sand usable for building purposes, and inert waste.
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:31 PM on June 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Why is aluminum smelting in Iceland a bad thing? If someone is having to do a high profile attempt to try to raise awareness of it, then obviously it isn't causing any significant problems on its own.

Based on the Wikipedia article, the protest relates to creation of several dams to produce hydroelectric power. but I thought hydro power was supposed to be a good thing: no carbon dioxide or pollution, renewable, et cetera, et cetera. So what's the problem here?

The dams have been the frequent subject of protests by environmentalists; the area is at the heart of the second largest unspoiled wilderness in Europe and covers about 1000 square kilometres in total.

The reason it's "unspoiled" is because it's a god-forsaken wasteland.
posted by Class Goat at 1:33 PM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Isn't this something that anyone with an pragmatic environmental bent should applaud? We need aluminum. That's not going to change. Iceland has the resources to generate the copious amounts of electricity required for smelting without generating any carbon. Win. Or would the opponents prefer a pristine wilderness be left alone and the aluminum be smelted in China with coal generated electricity? Mind you that option will probably lead to the end of life as we know it on earth, but at least the "famous" milky lake will remain the way it has for millennia.
posted by Keith Talent at 1:34 PM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


We used to catch smelt when I was a kid. I had no idea that there were aluminum smelt, or that they were a problem for Iceland. Hopefully they'll be able to get the regular smelt back, because they were pretty tasty.
posted by mullingitover at 1:34 PM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


You know what I always say, he who smelt it, dealt it.
posted by Outlawyr at 1:44 PM on June 27, 2008


Class Goat--

And yet, there are both Photo and Wikipedia layers there. Wow.
posted by effugas at 1:45 PM on June 27, 2008


Perhaps Sigur Rós are concerned about one of their music videos becoming true (starting about 2:20).
posted by anifinder at 1:46 PM on June 27, 2008


I'm all for eðical resource usage and awareness.
posted by boo_radley at 1:57 PM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Good God, did I ever love Iceland the one time I visited, and I like Sigur Ros. So suffice it to say I wish I was gonna be at this concert. Their concert DVD Heima includes some lovely footage of them playing in gorgeous outdoor locations.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:03 PM on June 27, 2008


this is the largest project ever to happen in Iceland, and it's captured the attention of the whole country.

Let's keep this in perspective. Iceland is a country of 250,000 people. They live in a hard climate and other than fishing (and hunting whales) and some tourism, there's not much oportunity. Viking gotta earn a living. Exploiting their geothermal energy is better than hunting whales.
posted by three blind mice at 2:44 PM on June 27, 2008


Náttúra - which aims to raise awareness of the proliferation of aluminium smelting plants in Iceland.

Wow, mission accomplished! I was totally unaware of this before.
posted by Eideteker at 2:59 PM on June 27, 2008


So, none of the equipment or structures used for the concert contain aluminum. Right?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 3:21 PM on June 27, 2008


If someone is having to do a high profile attempt to try to raise awareness of it, then obviously it isn't causing any significant problems on its own.

*Louis Del Grande*
posted by stinkycheese at 3:35 PM on June 27, 2008


I don't know anything about this aluminum smelting process, but I do know that Iceland is AWESOME. A country of 300,000 people producing Sigur Ros, Bjork, and Mum. Why can't my American town of the same population produce all that talent?

To the person who called Iceland a godforsaken wasteland, don't be silly.
posted by wigglin at 4:28 PM on June 27, 2008


Wish I could go see this - I just bought tickets for Sigur Ros in Toronto today, though, so I'll get my fix!
posted by SNACKeR at 4:44 PM on June 27, 2008


Making aluminum is poisonous (ever seen an aluminum smelter in the US?). Micro-hydro power is clean, but on this scale, you are killing land to cut down on hydrocarbons. That might be a devil's bargain.

Iceland has a very hard history. Poisoning their land isn't going to help matters any.
posted by QIbHom at 4:52 PM on June 27, 2008


This doesn't surprise me a bit. Icelanders tend to be pretty white, and you know what white people like...
posted by The Tensor at 5:00 PM on June 27, 2008


boo radley, it's actually eþical.

Þ as in thunder or theory, ð as in this or that

man, i wish i was back in RVK for this show.
posted by auralcoral at 5:29 PM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


To the person who called Iceland a godforsaken wasteland, don't be silly.

I didn't call all of Iceland a godforsaken wasteland. I referred to the area where they want to put the dam as a godforsaken wasteland.

The point is, if you can't put a hydro project there then where can you put one? What is an acceptable location if not that one? I'm getting BANANA vibes here.
posted by Class Goat at 5:45 PM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


This concert will be the world's largest gathering of umlauts, accents, and option-shift typographic characters.
posted by optovox at 6:15 PM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


One of the problems with the aluminium factories is that they are the result of a shortsighted policy, wherein the government sees large industry as a one size fits all solution to economic problems. There are concerns that depending so much on aluminium could lead a disaster similar in nature to the failure of Detroit's automotive industry. And if one sees the aluminium factories as unnecessary or a bad choice then the prospect of sinking large tracts of land (and there's only so much of Iceland to go round in the first place) for the sole reason of powering them seems even worse.

The factories are creating jobs, though, and most of the grumblings are coming from city-folk who don't have to rely on those factories for work so there is some resentment toward the protests from those benefitting.

My view (simplistic as it may be) is that irrevocably damaging a beautiful piece of land for just a few decades of industry money shows poor judgment, especially when there are so many other ways to stimulate growth in those dying townships.

Enough of that; I'm going to the show tomorrow! Can't wait!
posted by aldurtregi at 7:46 PM on June 27, 2008


and there's only so much of Iceland to go round in the first place

Oh, come on. It's the size of the state of Kentucky, but with less than one third the population of Rhode Island. You'd begrudge the use of 0.1% of that land for construction of some dams and a factory?

damaging a beautiful piece of land for just a few decades of industry money shows poor judgment

You can't eat beautiful pieces of land.

especially when there are so many other ways to stimulate growth in those dying townships.

Such as?
posted by Class Goat at 8:15 PM on June 27, 2008


You'd begrudge the use of 0.1% of that land for construction of some dams and a factory?

It's more than just one dam and one factory. Those percentages start adding up real quick. Then there's the fact that some 80% of our energy production is sold to foreign multinationals whose interests don't always coincide with ours.

Such as?

Health care facilities is one. There is a shortage of nursing homes in the countryside, so many of the elderly or those who require special assistance have no choice other than to relocate to the capital area.

High-tech industry is another. With widespread high-speed internet a lot of office work doesn't need to be located in Reykjavík. One of CCP's co-founders said in an interview once that they would be more than willing to relocate to the countryside if the government were willing to offer them the same benefits as the aluminium industry receives(tax cuts and reduced price of power, electricity).

Fishing industry. The fishing quota management system is flawed and is one of the reasons for the loss of industry in many fishing towns. Currently a lot of fish gets shipped overseas to be processed, in some cases then shipped back here to be sold. It could just as well be processed here.

Tourism. Building up national parks, improving services.

Transport. A railroad system of some sort would make commuting easier for people in the more remote towns.

With a mix of various smaller industries one could easily match the job capacity and income from the aluminium factories. The variety would also result in a more hospitable and lively environment than mono-industry towns could provide.

There's probably more that I haven't thought of, but this is just off the top of my head.
posted by aldurtregi at 9:15 PM on June 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Then there's the fact that some 80% of our energy production is sold to foreign multinationals whose interests don't always coincide with ours.

And if you didn't sell it, the GDP would be in the toilet and the prices of everything--which are already outrageous--would grow by an order of magnitude. Maybe if all the people working in those "ugly" jobs could just paint watercolors and sell them on Ebay insead. I'm sure that would make up for all the money lost.

There is a shortage of nursing homes in the countryside, so many of the elderly or those who require special assistance have no choice other than to relocate to the capital area.

That's what we call a benefit of urbanization. You get more of those helpful human services when you have higher concentrations of people. I'm not going to cry a river for the farmers in the American Midwest that insist on living hundreds of miles away from major metropolitan areas that complain about rising oil prices. Similarly, if Iceland's pensioners want the benefits of living in a bucolic wunderland, they can't turn around and be all "Boo hoo, where are the nursing homes and hospitals?" because you know precisely where they are: in the fucking cities.

With widespread high-speed internet a lot of office work doesn't need to be located in Reykjavik.

I'm sorry, but this is completely asinine. Of course it doesn't need to be located in Reykjavik. But then, it doesn't need to even be on Iceland, does it? Are you seriously suggesting that Iceland would be better off of people moved out of Reykjavik into the countryside, necessitating more fuel for transportation, more overhead for infrastructure (like roads, electrical lines, water lines, sewage, etc.), without the economies of scale?

One of CCP's co-founders said in an interview once that they would be more than willing to relocate to the countryside if the government were willing to offer them the same benefits as the aluminium industry receives(tax cuts and reduced price of power, electricity).

And will this telecommuting, back-woods-living fellow be producing the same kind of effect on the GDP? You don't get tax and price cuts for nothing, you know? How much revenue do you think a smelting plant will generate? Now, compare that number with the salary of Mr. CCP.

It could just as well be processed here.

You'd probably have to deal with people complaining about the environmental impact of said processing.

Tourism. Building up national parks, improving services.

HA! Do you honestly believe that it's the lack of services that's holding everyone back? Fuck no. It's the ungodly price of... well, just about everything
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:47 AM on June 28, 2008


I was going to respond to class goat and his BANANA's with an acronym implying that he wants to build dams and smelting factories no matter the need or public opinion. However, after taking a look at Icelandic public opinion on the issue, I think I'll shut up. It's hard to argue for something that the majority of Icelanders, and the vast majority of eastern rural Icelanders, dissaprove of.

Also, as I am rather ignorant of the economic situation in Iceland, I have no idea whether these factories are needed or not.

But who cares? Iceland's music is ridiculously good and I am blown away by the per capita talent coming out of the country. That's what we all need to be thinking about and discussing.
posted by wigglin at 3:29 AM on June 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's hard to argue for something that the majority of Icelanders, and the vast majority of eastern rural Icelanders, dissaprove of.

I think you need to re-read that study.
A majority of Icelanders, or 61%, now support the building of an aluminum smelter in Reydarfjordur and just over 50% support the Kárahnjúkar project whilst just over 32% oppose it.
[...]
Young people in the East Region are generally in favour of an aluminium plant being built in Reydarfjördur. As figure 8 shows about 75% are in favour of the plant.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:26 AM on June 28, 2008


The plants are being built in Iceland because of cheap power. Fine. Better hydro than coal-produced power. But the ore will be shipped from Africa or Australia. The carbon footprint of this shipping is largely ignored. As for employment, it is mostly non-Icelanders who are employed at these places (even the construction crews have been brought in from other Euro locations) so the question many Icelanders ask is "Why?" The answer seems to be that politicos decided that owning all that potential hydro power meant having to use it even if the net gain to the Icelandic economy was marginal.
posted by CCBC at 1:15 PM on June 28, 2008


Quicktime stream of the concert here. Nice one, NatGeo Music.
posted by progosk at 2:14 PM on June 28, 2008


(Bjork just came on...)
posted by progosk at 2:28 PM on June 28, 2008


(And pretty awesome she was.)
posted by progosk at 3:55 PM on June 28, 2008


Frankly, I'm a little surprised at some of the responses here ... it seems like something of a scorched-earth argument. Other parts of the planet have been fucked up by shortsightedness, it's about time Iceland gets its fair share too? Protesting environmental damage in one's backyard is practiced by most people who have a backyard to be damaged, and generally they're praised for "fighting for the cause"--so why are you telling the Icelanders who don't want to see their homeland drowned and poisoned to suck it up for the greater good? Pass around that freshly-baked pie of yours, Keith Talent and Civil_Disobedient, so we can all take a crap on it.

It's tragic that so many beautiful parts of the world have been spoilt due to these sorts of concerns. Why not try to preserve a little, isolated part that has been able to remain so pristine? If nothing else, the quasi-remote location and fact that it's an island and therefore somewhat less accessible than many other places that can be tramped into and logged/mined/dammed ought to make it at least a little bit easier.

Maybe a bit one-sided, but Saving Iceland has compelling before-and-after images of what the last controversial plant construction did to the landscape.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 10:14 AM on June 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why not try to preserve a little, isolated part that has been able to remain so pristine?

Why? I mean, I like beautiful places as much as the next guy... maybe more. But to suggest that my own personal aesthetic is somehow more important than the native population's bottom-line reeks of hubris. It's their land, they can do with it what they like. If they want to preserve it, great. If they want to build some hulking plant and make some money instead, who in the hell am I to tell them differently?

Pass around that freshly-baked pie of yours, Keith Talent and Civil_Disobedient, so we can all take a crap on it.

Or we could do it your way, and let NOBODY have any pie. You can just look at it, but you can't eat it, because that would rob future generations from looking at the pristine pie.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:23 PM on June 30, 2008


« Older Casual Collective has been linked before[Previousl...  |  Atmospheric vortex engines... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments