Thursday, 19 October 2017
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fireBombeirosSmallWhile statistics show that the world is actually somewhat more sane and under control than we might think, the deadly natural disasters we have seen lately really are making us feel otherwise.

The latest is a series of wildfires in Portugal and northern Spain, as strong winds “from a hurricane fanned hundreds of blazes sweeping across densely forested territory,” reports The New York Times:

PontePiedadeSo called conservation work at a renowned Algarve beauty spot has locals who are concerned with the environment, including biologist Dina Savador, up in arms over what they describe as hugely damaging work to install concrete pathways across a nationally important headland at Ponte da Piedade.

The council has European funds to spend so is pressing ahead, despite the obvious damage being done and despite calls to halt the construction. Study is needed to see how best to protect the natural area from the serious erosion caused by all those who visit Ponta da Piedade and to arrive at the optimum solution for the comfort and safety of visitors.

LagoasBrancasSmall

Congratulations to the Câmara Municipal de Lagoa for securing the funding and providing the plan for the upgrading of the grounds of Fatacil and the football club. The addition of more trees to the city landscape is especially welcome.

However, the urban park project is lacking in an important dimension that would elevate it from being welcome to wonderful. It is missing a natural area. And the irony is that one already exists, right next door- Alagoas Brancas.

eucalyptusI will not dwell too much on the disastrous history of the forests that blight this country, it's all spelled out in the article "Fires and Desertification of Portugal´s Forests," published in O Público about ten years ago, (writes Jorge Paiva, Portugal's 'David Attenborough').

Although we warned about the causes of annual fires that have been going on now for four decades, and how the problem can be solved, successive governments not only have caused, but also have been collaborators in establishing monocultures, continuous and contiguous, with only minimum control, order and rules applying.

fireforestSince 2004 I have published, first in a regional newspaper and then in a national, my surprise and now indignation for the contempt of our rulers in this democracy for the safety of people and their property, writes Jack Soifer

In December, 2013, Vida Economica wrote, "Organised by the Civil Protection department in Viseu and the National Firemen's Association, a seminar on forests was held. Jack Soifer detailed the costs of lack of prevention. "It's much more expensive to put out fires than to prevent them," he said.

windfarmRecent events have been a reminder of Portugal’s laudable position well ahead of many other more powerful countries in at least two key areas of human endeavour: keeping the peace and controlling climate change.

The atrocities in London last weekend and Manchester last month made the latest Global Peace index all the more poignant and pertinent.

Collated by an international panel of experts and published by a Sydney-based think-tank, the 2017 Global Peace Index places Portugal among the fop five most peaceful countries in the world.

VeleFreixoUnited Investments Portugal, owners of the Pine Cliffs Resort  and the Sheraton Cascais, has hit an environmental brick wall over its Vale do Freixo development proposal near Querença in the barrocal countryside.

The European Union did state that after the Quinta da Ombria development was given permission, "there should be no similar developments in the same area." Vale do Freixo is just down the road.

pvThe Açorean island of Graciosa has cut €2 million a year from its diesel fuel bill after a Danish renewable energy company and its partners financed and set up a wind farm and a solar energy park that now provide 70% of the island’s fuel needs.

HowardScott, the company behind the project, installed the intelligent system that blends together a 4.5 megawatt wind farm, a 1 megawatt photovoltaic solar park and a sophisticated 3.2MWh/6.0MW battery storage system so supply the island's grid.