Grist video producer Jennifer Prediger visited Iceland recently, attending an environmental protest concert featuring Björk and Sigur Rós. Here’s her report, in words and video.

In Iceland, the battle between power companies and conservationists is heating up. As the aluminum industry’s plans to build dams and smelters move full steam ahead, Icelanders could well become the number one emitters of carbon dioxide per capita in the world. This possibility, in a land whose geothermal resources should make it a renewable energy haven, is the ultimate slap in the face to activists trying to keep it green.

Björk

Björk.
Photo: Warren du Preez & Nick Thornton

Which is why the country’s stars aligned recently for a free benefit concert to protest the smelting plans. “It is great that we have not managed to totally fuck up this country yet, and we are standing at a crossroad right now,” said headliner Björk. “What we need more than anything is information. And that is my goal with this concert.”

Together with the group Sigur Rós and author Andri Snær Magnason, Björk pulled off a concert attended by 10 percent of the country’s population (that’s 25,000 out of 250,000 people). The concert was timed to the release of the English translation of Magnason’s Dreamland: A Self-Help Manual for a Frightened Nation.

“We came together and said something very big has to be done,” Magnason told me. “There are 60 million people [in the world] that live on geothermal areas they could use both for heating and energy. That’s like 10 percent of mankind. We need to go there with the knowledge, not make Iceland a colony of Alcoa. It’s not a good idea.”

Below the fold, video of the concert and of the country.