The Price of Wealth

In the remote and barren highlands of eastern Iceland, the herds of reindeer and flocks of pink-footed geese suddenly have some company. Hundreds of workmen have moved into the unspoiled valleys northeast of the Vatnajökull icecap, where glacial rivers flow through magnificent canyons in a starkly beautiful volcanic landscape. The men are working on the Kárahnjúkar Hydroelectric Project: a vast network of dams, reservoirs, tunnels, power stations and high-tension lines to support a new aluminum-smelting plant for the U.S. multinational Alcoa on a fjord some 70 km to the east. At a total projected cost of $2.2 billion for the smelter...

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