Saturday, February 29, 2020
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Force to stop and rethink?

This year, a tremendous expansion of airports and air traffic was agreed in Lisbon. Transport – and more specifically aviation – is the sector that most contributes to the greenhouse effect. But we live on the threshold of a transformation. Do we want to travel by plane tomorrow? A story told between Sweden and Lisbon. Alexandre Seguro is 17 years old. On 25 July, he will sit the national maths exam, his last challenge in secondary education. Four days later, he will participate in the World Peace Conference in Stockholm, Sweden. The choice of transport was obvious to him: “I …

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European Day of Sustainable Communities

On 21 September residents of Cloughjordan ecovillage, Co. Tipperary, in Ireland, and the wider local community, will gather at the annual Apple Festival, to celebrate the harvest and those that tend the orchards, work the land and create delicious food. They will arrive bearing musical instruments, bags of fruit for juicing and home-made pies — there is stiff competition for the prize of best apple pie! Activities include a guided walk of the ecovillage’s 70 native varieties of apples, a tour of the adjoining community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm, which feeds over 100 adults and children, a workshop on seed-saving and …

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BEACON, a beacon in the dark?

Are journalists able to take a neutral stance? Who chooses the stories they work on, and who decides the way these are presented? Do they portray reality and describe it through their words – like someone dressing a mannequin in a shop window? What are these stories that journalists write? What influence does intuition have in their work? What is the perspective of journalists when they observe and ask, listen and touch, sense the taste and smell, and then tell their story? What pictures do they choose? Questioning yourself and your work also calls into question the meaning of what …

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An oasis comes into being on the burnt land of Monchique

The landscaping project plans for the planting of 1,000 different species of native trees and shrubs in the Barranco do Esgravatadouro valley. The first 50 young trees have been planted since 30 December: various species of oak (quercus canariensis and quercus ilex, among others), cork oak, ash (fraxinus excelsior), chestnut, walnut, beech, willow, lime, maple, birch, elm, magnolia, camellia, as well as carob, laurel and pepper-trees. The terrain has been mapped out carefully and the themes are well-defined: paths will link several islands of trees placed at different levels. The first trees have been planted along the stream that rises …

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What is a smart city?

We are in Évora, in the city’s historic centre, in the year 2013. More than 90% of the buildings are over 40 years old. Of the homes to be found here, 2,424 are primary residences (56%), 739 are secondary residences (17%), and 1,163 are unoccupied (26.8%). There is a negative trend. From its peak in 1930, when 22,446 people lived in the city’s historic centre, to the last Census in 2011, when there were only 4,719 inhabitants, the area lost 80% of its population. The process of population decline began with the first large fall in 1940. The ageing rate, …

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Monchique 2018

What did you lose and what did you gain from the fire? The Karuna Retreat Centre has been totally devastated. Basically, all the structures that existed there disappeared. The forest disappeared. I feel that a fire, when it comes in a natural way, cannot cause so much devastation. If we look 360 degrees around us, Karuna is surrounded by eucalyptus trees on all sides. We have more or less three hectares. We had cleaned everything: there were no eucalyptus, all the medronho trees had been pruned and the weeds had been cleared around them. So there was no reason for …

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Where is the treasure buried?

Let’s go on a treasure hunt. The treasure is in the forest. We know that, as the sun rises, the trees begin to do their work. They turn carbon dioxide (CO²) into oxygen, the elixir of life. First question Where is the treasure buried? Bear in mind that, in the Iberian Peninsula, 1.5 million hectares are covered in forests of eucalyptus, to be turned mainly into office paper. In Portugal, (92,000 km²) we have eucalyptus planted on one million hectares. This amounts to 10,000 km², or 12% of the national territory. To visualise what this means, imagine a line connecting …

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On the way to torrid times

Why, every four years, do we vote for PS and PSD politicians, to see them alternately leading parliament as they engage in their constant power struggles? And why is it that this same parliament then approves a government of ministers and secretaries of state, who do nothing more than worry about how best to guarantee their high offices for the maximum amount of time, clinging to power and to their comfortable armchairs? Are they not obliged to treat the country well? Have they not taken take their oath? Is it not their duty to serve the country with wise decisions? …

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Europe needs a project

From Portugal to Norway on two rails… On this question, we were in agreement. It was an idea we had together during a long train ride. I was on my way to interview Per Espen Stoknes when a young man joined the train with his free Interrail ticket. It had been a nice gesture by the European Commission to offer such tickets to 18-year-olds, for the first time, enabling them to get to know Europe by train. Like me, he also wanted to travel to Gothenburg via Copenhagen. The train was standing in Hamburg at Platform 8 and the loudspeakers …

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Come on, let’s go and plant a tree!

Every breath connects me to you. Normally, air is an invisible background to my day to day life. I don’t pay much attention to it. But when there is pollution, smoke, fog, wind, snow or heavy rain, I remember that air is one of the four elements that form me and which I am made of. Help, I can’t breathe! When I am ill, and it becomes difficult to breathe, air becomes especially important once again. The “air is heavy” has a different meaning in several languages. The air enters my body, my lungs and my bloodstream and is carried …

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