Iceland's Environmentalists Express Views on Crisis Skip to content

Iceland’s Environmentalists Express Views on Crisis

Human capital and production based on ingenuity is the way out of the crisis—not heavy industry, factory jobs and the destruction of nature in Iceland, said Ómar Ragnarsson after accepting the Seacology environmental prize.

Ragnarsson, a former journalist at RÚV and an outspoken environmentalist, recently returned to Iceland from California where the award ceremony was held.

Seacology President Ken Murdoch, Ómar Ragnarsson and Seacology Chairman Paul Cox at the award ceremony. Photo by Susan Racanelli/Seacology.

“Fifteen years ago, Finns were in the same position Iceland is now. At that time the Finnish crisis was about to break them, like the economic crisis is about to break Iceland now. They could harness energy for heavy industry but they decided to place all their bets on human capital, education and products made by ingenuity and knowledge and that’s how they created the Finnish economic wonder,” Ragnarsson said in a press release.

“I welcome this award, but it is sad that the dissidence in Iceland’s environmental issues is garnering attention by the [Seacology] association only now. Until now developing countries like Indonesia, India, Tonga and Papua New Guinea have had its undivided attention. The fact that Iceland has joined their ranks is perhaps characteristic for these times,” Ragnarsson added. He is the first European to receive the Seacology Prize since 1992.

The prize, USD 10,000 (EUR 7,400), was granted to Ragnarsson for having raised awareness of gigantic power plant projects in Iceland’s highlands and what effects these projects have on the country’s environment. Ragnarsson plans to use the prize to fund his documentary Örkin, “The Ark.” Ragnarsson will then sell his film in the international market to help bring in currency for Iceland.

Seacology is an international association for environmental protection aimed towards protecting the biosphere on the world’s islands.

Another outspoken Icelandic environmentalist, author Andri Snaer Magnason, also warns against turning towards heavy industry and further aluminum smelters as a way out of the economic crisis Iceland is facing.

Magnason will hold a presentation on the subject in relation to the Iceland Airwaves festival today at 4 pm in Ida bookstore in central Reykjavík.

“Addicted to the machine, Iceland has lost its reputation in business—but will it lose its beauty as a consequence?” Magnason asks.

After the banking utopia has failed the future is grim, people ask for solutions and the government wants to jump from one Dreamland to the next. They want to go from banking and business to becoming the largest aluminum smelter in the world, the author claims.

Magnason’s book Dreamland: A Self-Help Manual for a Frightened Nation has sold in more than 20,000 copies since its publication in 2006.

Click here to read a review of the book and here to read an interview with Magnason.

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