Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fresh perspectives may be coming to Iceland—new U.S. Ambassador nominated

We are very excited about and welcome the nomination of Robert C. Barber to be the new U.S. Ambassador to Iceland. Ambassador-designate Barber will bring a wealth of experience to Iceland and is eager to bring his perspectives, ideas, and initiatives to strengthen relations between Iceland and the United States. We wish him the best as he prepares for his hearings before the U.S. Congress. Senate approval is necessary for positions appointed by the President.

Monday, October 28, 2013

University of Iceland’s philosophy students

We welcomed a group of philosophy students from the University of Iceland to one of our regular vísindaferð gatherings to chat about university studies in the U.S., the role of embassies, and any other topic that comes up. We had an interesting and wide-ranging discussion on topics such as alleged U.S. monitoring of e-mails, Syria, the role of technology, the U.S. role in the world, democracy, and we even got into video gaming. All in all, it was an excellent exchange and an opportunity for these students to raise questions directly with us and to have a fair hearing of our views. These events are always thought provoking and good opportunity for reflection.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Using film to raise climate change awareness

We were very proud to sponsor the Reykjavik International Film Festival and the efforts of the organizers to use the program to raise awareness of the challenges of climate change by showing informative films and conducting panel discussions on the subject. There were several top scientists and filmmakers from the United States who participated in several events, including noted climate scientist Michael E. Mann (author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars), University of Oregon Professor Kari Norgaard, Peter Sinclair (who runs the “Climate Denier Crock of the Week” website), film producer Patrick Gambuti (Greedy Lying Bastards) and film critic John Defore. I attended one of the panel discussions of the Earth 101 project, which generated a lot of great questions from a standing-room-only audience of university students, teachers, and concerned citizens. I hope some young film makers have been inspired to make more films on this important topic.

Reykjavik – City of Peace

We had the opportunity to attend the yearly lighting ceremony of the Imagine Peace Tower located on Viðey Island just across Reykjavik’s harbor. The tower was built and inaugurated in 2007 in memory of John Lennon and his peace anthem “Imagine.” The tower is lit from October 9 until December 8—the dates of John Lennon’s birth and death. The ceremony captures Reykjavik’s tradition as a city fiercely committed to peace in the world as thousands of its citizens make the yearly pilgrimage to the ceremony.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The U.S. and Iceland partner to bring geothermal energy to Africa

Photo: Reykjavík Geothermal

We were delighted to learn that the U.S.-Icelandic company Reykjavik Geothermal has sealed a deal to build the Corbetti Geothermal Plant in Ethiopia. The Corbetti geothermal plant will be a 1,000 MW plant to be built in two stages. When completed it is expected to be the largest geothermal facility in all of Africa, and represents an investment of $4 billion over an 8-10 year construction period. We are very proud to note this excellent example of what American-Icelandic partnerships in both the private sector and in government can accomplish in bringing economic development to Africa. The United States Agency for International Development and other U.S. government agencies played a critical role in putting this complex project together. We look forward to watching the development of this exciting
new venture in Ethiopia.