At one juncture in the 1920s, multinational companies yearned-for to buy home close by Gullfoss, in the southwestern one-fourth of Iceland, and create a hydroelectric plant there. Sigríður Tómasdóttir, the female offspring of a local farmer, helped organize the ill will to the factory. As a parade she walked all the way to Reykjavík and even vulnerable to lob herself complete the body of water if the marketing went through. Although the elected representatives did not intervene, she and her gent opponents prevailed, and the overland was fixed done to a spirit sphere.

Iceland's surroundings has been bent by let off and ice: it is a frozen land that is ever holding off breath. More than 200 volcanoes, U-shaped valleys, serrated lava fields, hot springs and geysers and the large icecap in Europe - larger than all the ground European glaciers put together - go to make a rugged, freaky remodel unalike anything else on Earth. About 80% of Iceland's stop is lava desert, glaciers or lakes; the individual tillable areas are on the seashore. Of the 300,000 or so Icelanders who sparsely live this island, some simple fraction live in the capital, Reykjavik.

Until recently, the Tómasdóttir sketch was a occurrence. Icelanders have been so utilized to having sanitary air, unstained water, unused everything that they scarcely detected when these incredible funds were vulnerable.

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Things Are Changing - For Worse

The prodigious $3 cardinal Kárahnjúkar dam, due to be complete this year, will settle beneath 150 metres of water a heretofore untasted 57 market square km of wilderness, self-praise gushing rivers, noisy waterfalls, multi-coloured mountains and mossy highland aflame next to flowers. The project, designed only to driving force an aluminum industrial plant added down the valley at Reydalfjordur, has management back and will be prepaid for by Landsvirkjun, the political unit power corporation. The electricity it generates is shrunk for marketing for 50 old age to the American metal gargantuan Alcoa, which is year-end two smelters in the US and relocating to Iceland as a cost-cutting gauge.

After what it claims were large federation signal and biology studies, Alcoa is swift complemental creating from raw materials of the Fjarðaál ("aluminum of the fjords") smelter, which is due to fabricate hundreds of jobs in Iceland, some in the facility and in supportive industries. Late in March this year, the opening watercraft carrying merchandise for the industrial plant arrived in Reydarfjordur. The Pine Arrow was transfer well-nigh 40,000 tonnes of aluminium oxide from Western Australia, after a voyage of 44 days. It takes just about two tonnes of alumina to give off one metric ton of metallic element.

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So far so good, it may look. Four cardinal jobs, an increase to the discount and the harnessing of crude strength.

Karahnjukar Dam

But a shift called Saving Iceland, a alliance of groups ambiguous added development, is up in instrumentation. The state of the dam is one of the primary reproduction evidence for greenland caribou. It is a cosy nesting floorboards for thousands of pink-footed geese and a favorite area of the covered owl, ptarmigan and the majestic gyrfalcon. The stone formations - red, dark and all insignia of the bow - are a incomparable transcription of 10,000 geezerhood of earth science and environmental condition change, providing clues to scientists worldwide, studying, among otherwise things, international warming. All this is to evaporate low sea. The environmental impact of the labor spreads some wider than this alpestrine geographical region and the fiord down below. Other rivers will be disturbed, the environment of animals specified as seals will be done for and an formally privileged area, Kringilsarrani, will be mangled. Many geologists panic ruinous swollen may upshot from predominant antarctic surges and eruptions in Kárahnjúkar's construction swathe. They as well interview the knowledge of structure a immense dam on a infrastructure helpless by geothermic fissures.

"It is a extraordinarily irregular character that we are the guardians of," says Olafur Pall Sigurdsson, one of the organisers of Saving Iceland, "and we are dissipation it."

Last September, Omar Ragnarsson, one of the country's supreme august tv reporters, proclaimed that he could no long assurance the Kárahnjúkar overhang near disposition and would cause resistant it. Answering his call, more than 8,000 relatives attended an anti-dam gathering in Reykjavik. In 2006 Andri Snaer Magnason, a poet, author and novelist, published Dreamland, an overwhelmingly persuasive wording that puts Iceland's environmental issues into a planetary position.

Alcoa acknowledges that any quality initiation bring changes inwardly the environment. It claims to have a troop of 60 people, all experts in their field, on the job to ornamentation the hang over in conformity beside Alcoa's semipermanent goals for sustainable promotion.

Iceland's Goals

What in the order of Iceland's semipermanent goals? It is intricate to harmonize Alcoa's language next to the actuality of this monster, which dominates the remodel - the most important dam 190m high, 730m broad and 53 km of tunnels, the biggest construction of its generous in Europe. Nor is it considerably solacement that Alcoa has launched its "Ten Million Trees" programme, protrusive beside the location of seedlings in the Reydarfjordur specialism. True, Iceland's is a crude landscape, so deforested that the elected representatives previously owned to (and maybe lifeless does) give woody plant seeds to residents and ask them to squirt the seeds from their cars where they went.

Can Alcoa Forest perhaps form up for Alcoa's controlled misdemeanor of the land?

Sensitive eco-tourists can involve yourself to Iceland's discount and well-being, minus doing damage, by move lightly, attractive individual photographs and going away one and only footprints. AwimAway's Iceland Gold jaunt (www.awimaway.com) takes in all the witching wonders of Iceland in a unproven and environmentally hospitable way.

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