1 of 7) Reykjavik, Iceland


In Reykjavik, Iceland to present my paper “Social Costs of Industrial Growth: Which American states manufacture more efficiently in terms of air pollution?” at the 6th International Conference on Climate Change” at the The University of Iceland, hosted by the Climate Change Knowledge Community.

Fact about the paper:  Although industrial production generally provides jobs and enhances the standard of living in a society, the production process also discharges emissions, contaminants, and toxic substances into the air.  Reliance on industry for economic welfare is frequently accompanied by the challenge of air pollution, and this study analyzed annual manufacturing-related GNP by the total pounds of Air Emissions released for every US state.  One finding is that the six worst air polluters as it relates to the ratio of production to emissions were big states with sparse populations located in the mid-northern part of the US.

Country Manufacturing as a % of GDP (Rank of seven countries): 13.3%  5th out of 7 (OECD stats)

Country’s most Important Industries: Fishing and processing of fish, energy, and aluminum

WWII fact: The allies peacefully decided to occupy Iceland in response to the Germans forcibly occupying Denmark.

The flight left Boston at 9pm and with the 4 hour flight, it meant that I got to Reykjavik at 7am local time.  Took a flybus from the airport to the central Reykjavik but terminal and dropped off the luggage at the hotel since check-in was in the afternoon.  Like most European cities, it’s pedestrian-friendly so some sightseeing was in order (see pictures at end of blog).  There are several major glaciers within the country but visiting those would have constituted a complete daytrip and thus were prohibitive.

I will be presenting my research paper in the “Economics of Climate” themed room along with other international researchers.

The conference went very well.  There was much sharing of knowledge and viewpoints.

Other Presenters

The conference also involved a poster show (below), in which the posters that were submitted went through the same peer-review process.  This session of the conference allowed for more personalized interactions with attendees.  Interactions during conferences like this are oftentimes more valuable than simply listening to the research presentations.

I was able to take a site tour for the Ossur manufacturing company headquarters (below).  It was nice to have the opportunity to discover new research related to international industry through visiting and observing this very successful multinational company headquartered in Iceland.  The company executives were very gracious in allowing me not only the access but also answering many questions.  Much of this information will be valuable for future research.

Viktoria Jensdottir, Continuous Improvement and Safety Manager was my host and guide

Össur has offices and extensive operations in the Americas, Europe and Asia. In the past decade, the Company has transformed itself into a global leader in non-invasive orthopedics, with operations in 14 countries and sales that are well diversified in terms of segments and geographical spread.  Össur’s headquarters are located in Reykjavik, Iceland. Operations in Iceland encompass manufacturing, research and development, corporate finance and sales and marketing for the domestic market



Yes, Ossur developed the orthopedics for Oscar Pistorius.

Vikings originally settled the area in the 9th century and much of the city’s streets are named after famous Vikings.


The Vikings have a reverence in the city due to their influence and history.  Vikings originally settled the area in the 9th century.  Leif Erickson is credited for discovering America in Iceland and below is the inscription under his statue.

Leif Erickson statue- inscription.

Voyage of the Sun Scuplutre which indicates undiscovered treasure.

Reykjavik is the northern most capital on earth.  The population increased in the 1930s as villagers moved from the countryside to the city due to famine.

Birch trees originally covered the country during a time in which a vast majority of the land was covered by trees.  However in past years starting in the 13th century, “land erosion”  took place, as the trees were used for firewood.  Recently, the citizens have tried their best to plant and grow them but the trees have had a difficult time surviving.  This is one of several reasons that the area is at the forefront of sustainability.  Today, hydro and geothermal are very popular methods for power and energy.  Reykjavik has turned in to a very green city.  However, taxes are high in this city, somewhat due the socialism of medicine.

Below is a view of Reykjavik from the University of Iceland campus.  If you look closely, you’ll see some snow on the top of the mountains.  You may say that this would be rare for summertime, but the locals tell me that this is much less snow than in past years.

Mountains with snow.. but less snow than ever.

Bobby Fischer of the US vs Boris Spasky of the USSR in the 1972 (chess) the Match of the Century took place here (building in background of the picture below).  This was also the venue of the Reykjavík Summit (see below), where President and Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet talked, which is credited for being a turning point towards ending the Cold War.


It was only dark for 2 hours during the first night!  That’s 22 full hours of daylight!  In the winter there are only 4-5 hours of daylight.  The city has legendary nightlife, especially during the summer when it’s daylight for all but two hours, and  the Laugavegur area (below) is the most popular.

area in iceland 

Some other observations or points of interest learned about Reykjavik include:

  • There was no litter or trash on the streets
  • You don’t see people spitting on the sidewalks like you do in American cities
  • Whale watching is a popular hobby
  • People seem to be very helpful with directions and conversations.  I think it’s because they are very prideful of their home
  • The Northern Lights, or the Aurora Borialis, which are green lights in the sky that look like they are dancing, can be seen during colder months
  • Fireworks are legally sold during New Years rather than near the 4th of July in America
  • The only bottled water that I’ve seen is Icelandic water, which is from their natural springs.  I’ve been told that other bottled water is more processed and purified and transported and taken from un-purified water sources
  • Beer was only made legal here in 1989
  • The buildings are made of stone… no brick for some reason

All around a very fun time… on to Rotterdam!  Jim

more information about the conference can be found here

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