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Environmentally progressive Iceland needs help from Björk, Sigur Rós


Two of Iceland's biggest music acts, Björk and Sigur Rós, were named "Friends of the United Nations" after performing at a concert to raise environmental awareness in Reykjavik on Saturday. The concert was attended by one-tenth of the Icelandic population, 30,000 people, and the issue at stake was the dams being built around Iceland. The dams do fuel hydroelectricity, but in turn that power is used for environment-damaging aluminum smelters.

At the concert Björk said, "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."

And Sigur Rós guitarist/keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson had a lot to say about preserving nature in his homeland in an interview with The Guardian.

"We are very privileged here to have our country fairly unspoiled, and we would like to continue having it like that. We have had two polar bears in two weeks coming over here. And why? Because the Arctic is melting and they are floating on icebergs and swimming to the next shore they see, and that shore is Iceland. I remember 30 years ago they would come because the ice cap reached to Iceland so they walked. And just that makes you think. It's kind of scary. "

Sveinsson then explained how he was motivated to get involved in this cause. 
"We travel a lot and we see the industrial revolution from where it started 200 yrs ago [elsewhere], in Iceland it only happened just 100 yrs ago so…we can compare it to Iceland and we can see how…the things here that have been preserved where elsewhere it wouldn't have been preserved."

But does he have any hope? "I'm not really hopeful, no. But that's why we're here, because we're tying to make people aware, and we're also trying to reach people like you foreigners [and media] because maybe its harder to turn back for another country but here it isn't that hard. I think that the government here treats environmentalists as little children, you know they shove them away; you can't have that."

It's tough to be green, though, when Sigur Rós has to tour for their career. "We do our best, we try to do the tour as environmental as we can. We can't really afford now to be like Radiohead, buy gear in America, buy gear in Japan… but we have thought about it for years and years.

As far as the products they sell--CDs--one option is recycled packaging. "The worst thing is the jewel case. It is a horrible thing. We are kind of against jewel cases, we have only made one jewel case in our career." Well, one step at a time.