Home | Opinion


Nº 139 – Off to Portugal… by Rail?

Saturday, the 17th of December 2022 Now, the other day I was reading in ECO123 that the town of Monchique was threatened with extinction. And the same magazine carried an online job advert. What can I say? I’ll blame coincidence for the fact that I left Leipzig, unable to resist my curiosity, and started on my way to Monchique, nestling in the mountains of the same name. I wanted that job. And here is my story.   Travelling is supposed to be fun; it should be safe, as fast as possible and cheap too of course. Now for years we …

Read More »

Dear God (if you’re still around nowadays)

I was asked to write my thoughts about COP26, which has just ended in Glasgow. As if I were somehow an expert, or even what I believe is now called an “influencer” of some kind. I’m not, I’m afraid. So, I decided to write an open letter. Dear God (if you’re still around nowadays) I need your help. As you know, I’m just an ordinary guy. I’m concerned about the environment and climate change, and I’d like to contribute in some way. But, I’m confused: what can I myself do? You may remember that some time ago, you sent us …

Read More »

Ethics. What was that again?

Bank robberies? Subsidies fraud? Financial transaction tax? Money is an endless topic that we could argue about here, laugh and cry, and make up over again. This is an issue we could fill hundreds of pages with. And from many different perspectives: as winners and as losers. We could write about that one night at the casino and the millions that two men got to take home, or about the Inland Revenue which didn’t hesitate in trying to charge income tax from the year 2016 twice over. Or how about the story of all that fake money being printed at …

Read More »

Driving the Renault ZOE ZEN to
or: How to save 10,000 euros in petrol over five years

Ten years ago, I decided to get rid of all machines, motors and engines that were powered by fossil fuels. At the time, I was driving an old petrol-guzzling Renault Kangoo and felt a pang of conscience each time I ate a piece of meat. Some of my colleagues were buying new cars at that point. Thinking about what I could do with my money, I decided to become independent, to liberate myself from the constraints of a society running on fossil fuels. I made a fundamental decision and didn’t buy a new car. Instead, I simply carried on driving …

Read More »

Enemies of trees and forests?
or an alliance for love of the tree?

Are we Portuguese enemies of trees and forests? The great agronomist Joaquim Vieira Natividade (1899-1968) drew attention to our dendroclasm or dendrophobia, seeking instead to cultivate a love of trees among the population. Few listened to him. We don’t really have forests in the ecological sense of the word, just a few remnants. What is commonly referred to as a “forest” is in fact a chaotic collection of shrubland, woodland and tree plantations of an industrial nature, frequently monotonous and dangerous because its trees are highly flammable. Are they monocultures? Perhaps not even that, since most of them are not …

Read More »

The Botanical Garden of Caldas de Monchique

Here is some more good news! Over the next ten years, ECO123’s employees, friends, sponsors, subscribers and customers will plant more than 1,000 different young trees in the new botanical garden of Caldas de Monchique. To plant a tree, it’s not enough just to make a hole and put a plant in it. A biotope is a complex system that lives by giving and receiving, waiting and growing, while also resting in order to gain new strength and the ability to interact. This story will cover everything that is needed to make a tree feel good on the planet Earth. …

Read More »

Tourist or traveller?

Traveller: a kind of historian who goes in search of the identity of a group of people, undergoing different experiences, documenting them and learning from them; tourist: he who experiences products designed by the tourist industry, the “fast-food” version of the traveller. Travel writing on the Algarve is full of travellers who feel the pulse of the land and its inhabitants, living with them and observing their lives without judgement. A. H. Stuart (1) writes: “the English tourist can be described as a person who travels for pleasure, experience and understanding. The tourist who fails to uphold the rules of …

Read More »

The Last Word

Finally, some good news. António da Encarnação from Monchique is 81 years old, and he has had to watch many forest fires over the course of his long lifetime. In 2018, he lost his home, lots of chestnut trees and cork oaks; in 2016, he lost another home. But he has never lost heart, or his good spirits. António has worked all his life as a farmer, growing food in his fields for himself and other people. The quality of his products — which he still produces despite his age and bouts of ill health — is well-known beyond county …

Read More »

“If the climate was a bank, it would have already been saved”

Thunberg stopped going to school and sat down in front of the Swedish Parliament. She was striking against the lack of action against the climate crisis. Her initiative very quickly went global and reached thousands of other young students across the world. Today, more than 4,175 strikes are taking place according to the #FridayForFuture website. Their message is straightforward: they want politicians to fight climate change to guarantee a safe future for the younger generations. Greta was able to involve not only her peers, but all generations, in the call for tackling the climate crisis, thanks to this existential narrative. …

Read More »
Learning to Love

An example for us all

Dinosaurs don’t exist any more They aren’t with us any more, it’s true, but they’ve accompanied me most of my life. I’m talking about dinosaurs, extinct for millions of years and an example for us all. To some extent, when we look at the past that was made with them, we can also see the future. Which must be made by us. I remember that, when I was a child, in the days of the magic cube, there was another small marvel with what was for me a rather peculiar name: Kalkitos. Kalkitos were strips of card with a scene …

Read More »