From Pitchfork – the Icelandic musician and star Bj√∂rk, on the Icelandic response to the financial crisis (which locked up Iceland’s imports as massive bank failures lead to a currency crash):
… the N√°tt√ļra Campaign, the Icelandic environmental movement co-founded by Bj√∂rk. N√°tt√ļra’s original mission was to protest the construction of foreign-backed aluminum factories in Iceland, but in recent weeks, the movement has taken a dramatic turn. ….
Bj√∂rk: For the last two weeks, Icelanders are getting a crash course in economics. I mean, I didn’t know about these things two weeks ago. The news is full of right-wing guys saying, “Stop the environmental value stuff! We should just build factories everywhere now, because that’s where the money is!” …
These aluminum smelters, nobody wants to build them in Europe, because there’s so much pollution. So it’s like, “Oh, just go dump them in Iceland.” We are getting them energy for so cheap that they are saving so much money by doing all this here.
Instead, what we are saying is, we’ve got three aluminum factories, let’s work with that, we cannot change that. Why not have the Icelandic people who are educated in high-tech and work already in those factories in the higher paid jobs, why not let them build little companies who are totally Icelandic with the knowledge they have? Then they get the money and it stays in the country. Then we can support the biotech companies and the food companies and all these clusters. I think that if you want to be an environmentalist in Iceland, these are the things you’ve got to be putting your energy into.
A lot of investors [are] coming, and I’m hoping they will want to invest in the high-tech cluster. There are money people here that did not lose a lot of money. For example, here is one investment company in Iceland only run by women. They are doing fine. [laughs] They aren’t risk junkies. They just made slow moves. The people who are crashing, they took a huge loan and then another huge loan, and so on. And it’s all just air. But these women didn’t build on air.
I’ve also been trying to get someone to Iceland to suggest green industries to Icelanders and introduce us to the companies that haven’t even been built yet in the world. This man Paul Hawken, who is famous in the States, he has agreed to come here in November. He’s supposed to be a green capitalist. He’s a functionalist, not just an idealist. I’m hoping he can unite these two polarized groups in Iceland. I’m setting up a meeting with him and the people in power. Because I think private money people can put money into those seed companies, but most of all, the government has to do it. It has to be a mixture of two things. It cannot just be visionary money people.