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'We will have more fires and floods' writes Jack Soifer

FireMonchique2018Monchique's tragedy was predictable, like last year's and all the others in the past 30 years, as was the flooding in Albufeira, twice in a row.

On Dec,27th 2013 Vida Económica summarised my talk in Viseu: "Organised by Civil Protection, with the support of the National Association of Professional Firefighters, a seminar on the protection of forests was held. Consultant Jack Soifer detailed the costs of lack of prevention. "It's always much more expensive to remedy than to prevent," he said. The methods Soifer quoted, used in other countries, are despised here.

Soifer estimates that Portugal stopped earning €55 billion in exports and now imports what burned here. "This value has been diverted from its best use, modernizing SMEs for more exports!"

I detailed the methods of fire detection used elsewhere in the EU, which alerts the nearest fire department.

"There are interests that want the fires to continue as it is much cheaper to buy burned land and change the Land Plan from rural to urban; and to buy damaged wood for cork and paper pulp."

In Sept 2010, I had published that, "It is necessary to change the law and make this a crime against the security of the country."

It is good for a retired rural oldie that earns €300-a-month to receive €20,000 and risk a seven month stay in prison. His son then has the down payment for a small home.

On July 17th, after the June tragedy and after investigating who allegedly started the fires, I published, "There are interests that want the fires to continue as it is much cheaper to buy burned land and change the Land Plan from rural to urban; and to buy damaged wood for cork and paper pulp."

On Oct 17th, after new fires, I wrote:

"The measures announced are good, but will not stop fires in the future, they will only reduce the impact. Citizens will die, houses and forests will burn. Politicians  focus on the consequences, not the causes of the fires.”

The causes of the fires will remain the same, fires that have wiped out our forests for 30 years, destroying what citizens have built up over a lifetime and kill us for choosing to live in the interior. To reduce the power of those who cause them, structural change is  vital.

The main cause is the price paid for wood for the pulp and cork industries. The price already is low but after fires, it falls to 1/4 or less of the usual value. This is because there is a strong cartel in one and a quasi-monopoly in the other. They want low prices.


droneWidePhoto

In other countries, inexpensive means are used to prevent fires, which I described in 2013. Poles on mountaintops have cameras which photograph and film all around. Also, drones which can fly at night when arsonists often start fires.

Software integrates photos with the wind speed, direction and the humidity in the fire risk zones. At high risk, a warning is issued to nearby firefighters who extinguish ignitions there before they become fires. With a fire extinguisher!

"It's much cheaper to put out ignitions than fires. Instead of €50 million a year for the aircraft cartel, €5 million in cameras and software will stop, once and for all, the big fires"

These words reached MPs in Lisbon and at the Ministry. But the chiefs at Civil Protection keep the theatrical rhetoric going, like Shakespeare, by stating how many firefighters are engaged but never saying what they should have done to avoid these tragedies. It is the locals, humble, hardworking citizens who keep the heritage of our interior, who lose everything they acquired during a lifetime.

They indicate the major flaws. But at top level the important thing is to appear on TV as this give voice to those who do not want change, rather than to those who are out in the fields or who have checked the best methods of prevention used somewhere else, such as Professor Xavier Viegas.

The Algarve has lost pasture, wood, arbutus, animals, real estate and machinery to produce what we will now have to import. We are going to lose another hundred million as trust in the government and security is vital for the foreign tourists.

We need new structures, where the knowledge of local citizens and experts is worth more than the speculator's euro, the vanity of the politician and the sensationalism of TV.

Minister, use drones to prevent rather than helicopters as a remedy. Use experts to predict rather than to summon firefighting resources.

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Comments  

0 #6 Jack Soifer 2018-08-15 11:21
Malcolm is right. We'll have a huge problem soon At least two other countries which wish to leave the Euro may not do it: FI, AU, GR. They wish to see HOW UK leaves the EU to follow the same procedures.
The EU has to choose between changing the way the Euro is governed by the banks, not by elected citizens. Or letting at least 3 small countries quit. The 3 watch the EU-countries developing best, Sweden, Polen, Check Rep., none of these have the Euro.
Refer to a Feature I published here last year on this subject
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+1 #5 Ed 2018-08-14 12:59
Quoting AL:
Quoting Ed:
The government is acting on the expressed wishes of the majority of British voters - a slim majority but a majority none the less.
Absolutely right the government is only acting and pretending to leave the EU. How can a prime minister dead against leaving the EU negotiate a deal out? At least Cameron had the decency to resign.
if Prime Ministers had to favour all legislation passed in the Commons, parliament would be in even more of a muddle.
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+1 #4 AL 2018-08-14 12:50
Quoting Ed:
The government is acting on the expressed wishes of the majority of British voters - a slim majority but a majority none the less.
Absolutely right the government is only acting and pretending to leave the EU. How can a prime minister dead against leaving the EU negotiate a deal out? At least Cameron had the decency to resign.
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+2 #3 Ed 2018-08-14 08:11
Quoting Denby:
Malcolm H,
You are correct to a certain point, but the thing that I am amazed by, is that the British people have not come out in mass demonstrators to protest at how the government is frog marching them out of the EU and into an unsure future that will no doubt see average income families suffer huge losses.
The government is acting on the expressed wishes of the majority of British voters - a slim majority but a majority none the less.
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-2 #2 Denby 2018-08-14 08:07
Malcolm H,
You are correct to a certain point, but the thing that I am amazed by, is that the British people have not come out in mass demonstrators to protest at how the government is frog marching them out of the EU and into an unsure future that will no doubt see average income families suffer huge losses.
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+1 #1 Malcolm.H 2018-08-13 09:24
This brings out yet again the gap between the laws that state the citizens rights and the lesser degree of Portuguese social / society development. Known as Societal Lag. As seen in the eastern EU at this moment with developed Romanians returning to their country and wanting to import the values of the more developed EU into Romania. Getting gassed and clubbed by police. Wanting a fight against corruption, self-interest, nepotism, mismanagement - everything we see daily in Portugal. Yet still no protest here!
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