Sep 25, 2008, 2:21:19 AM9/25/08
to Bristol Sustainability Network
You are all invited to the book launch of "Draumalandid" - which
"Dreamland" by Andri Snær Magnason - and Icelandic philosopher,
environmentalist and author.
October 2, 5pm - followed by a discussion.
Wills Memorial Building, Reynolds Theatre (G25), University of
Bristol, Queens Road, Bristol BS8 1RJ.
Dreamland poses a fundamental question that the Icelandic people, and
world in general, still haven't come to terms with: "Is it possible to
well without taking full advantage of natural resources that could so
be exploited? And what do we mean by ´full advantage´?" The author,
Snær Magnason, manages to discuss this in a way that is compelling,
entertaining and delightfully politically incorrect.
Icelandic playwright, poet, novelist and children's book writer Andri
Magnason finds himself living in a human laboratory - put 300,000
an island and see what happens. He realises what looks like a chest
gold, a billion-dollar investment by aluminum conglomerate, is in-fact
a Pandora's box. Landscapes and nature that National Geographic
rank as some of the most beautiful in the world are under direct
is in this atmosphere that Dreamland is written.
Imagine putting a four-hundred thousand ton aluminum smelter and a
power plant in an area comparable, both in beauty and size, to the
Lake District. To most the idea is ludicrous but in Iceland, the
offered above is the exact fate meted out to some of the country's
treasured landscapes. How did this happen?
It is Europe's last frontier of unspoiled nature. The lines are drawn
If Iceland cannot be spared, what places in the world can be saved?
last years the government has attracted the world's largest aluminium
conglomerates, with the cheapest
electricity prices in Europe, pursuing a strategy that has resulted in
destruction of ancient glacial rivers, unique geothermal areas and
vital waterfalls and valleys across Europe's largest unspoilt
The industrial giants want cheap electric power and even cheaper land
help them feed the world's addiction to aluminum. After an intense
involving huge protests and numerous smaller battles across the
aluminium giants managed to build one of Europe's largest
power plants, Kárahnjúkar, directly affecting over 1000 square-
spectacular, untouched nature. Can it be true that selling cheap
undervalued land to huge corporations is in the long-term interests of
Further expansion plans, to be implemented in the near future, include
destruction of even more waterfalls, glacial rivers and some of the
breeding sites for several rare animals, such as the Pink-footed
the largest stock of wild salmon in Iceland. The wilderness under
home to an incredibly diverse and fragile ecosystem, and its
thousands of years in the making, are disappearing into dams and
never to be seen again. The government of a country with an abundance
clean energy has managed to create a plan that will make Icelanders
greatest CO2 pollutants per capita in the world with each smelter
levels of pollution equivalent to 170,000 cars, and each using more
than all other industries on the island combined. In 2002 one smelter
build. Two more are lined up to open before 2010. When will it end? At
either end of the production chain are Jamaica, where bauxite mining
threatens fragile ecosystems, and landfills in the US, where enough
cans to rebuild the entire US airline fleet four times a year are
After its publication in Iceland, the book changed the national debate
regarding the harnessing of the natural resources and swayed public
The book exposes the spell, and shows us that all this devastation is
absolutely needless - the destruction of nature is not to our
demonstrates that human society can be organised in harmony with
that we need not destroy to survive. That we can use technology
explore new methods of harnessing energy, which will in the end also
costly than these archaic, low-tech and brutal methods.
Dreamland turns us onto a different way of
thinking. Andri Snær´s extensive research enables him to put the
a global context and encourages us to look for answers outside the box
solution, it is suggested, lies in the adoption of a new mindset. It
the philosophy of fear; a fear of the future, a fear of unemployment,
of starvation, and the book's contagious optimism reminds us of the
advances in technology in recent years and asks us to make better use
Dreamland has been praised for its gripping style, originality and its
poetic prose but, despite the serious nature of the subject, the
never loses his sense of humour.