terça-feira, 14 de agosto de 2018

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Boris Johnson or the burqa?





What could be more dehumanising than the niqab and the burqa? Hiding a woman dehumanises her completely, turning a person into an anonymous thing.
(…) But Versi said something else, too: he accused Johnson of “dehumanising Muslim women”. That was a step too far. What could be more dehumanising than the niqab and the burqa? Hiding a woman dehumanises her completely, turning a person into an anonymous thing.
On visits to Afghanistan I have been shocked to see how contemptuously women in burqas are treated in the street, often shoved aside by men as obstacles in the way. The burqa doesn’t give women more respect, but less. Visiting secretive women’s groups in Kabul, I heard them voice hatred for the compulsory garment they discarded in the hall.
Outside Boris Johnson’s constituency office last week, a small group of niqab-wearers demonstrated with signs reading: “My dress, my choice”. Fair enough. Even cake-and-eat-it Johnson professed their right to wear what they liked, while playing the race card. But the few women who are educated, liberated and free to choose the niqab as a religious symbol of an extreme fundamentalist creed are almost certainly a minority. Many whom Johnson has made more vulnerable to attack will be undefended, non-English speakers, obedient to men and a culture over which they have little choice, like the Muslim women I have met in English classes.
Religions have always branded their identities by restrictions on women. Christianity, Judaism, Islam and others all set out with extreme rules proclaiming a disgust of unclean women’s bodies, with ritualised baths, head-shaving, denying abortion and contraception, arranged marriages, purdah, churching of new mothers, and barring women from priesthoods. Inside extreme cults and sects, abuse of women is almost inevitable. (…)
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Islamic veil
Boris Johnson or the burqa? It’s a false choice – both dehumanise Muslim women
Polly Toynbee
Racism is a virus that can be easily released by politicians who stoop low. But we can’t ignore how religions treat women

Tue 14 Aug 2018 06.00 BST Last modified on Tue 14 Aug 2018 06.20 BST

So, what is the good liberal to do? What is the good humanist to say? Boris Johnson’s anti-Muslim “jokes” were not a dog whistle, but a foghorn beckoning racists to his Steve Bannon-assisted leadership cause. But in the maelstrom he has deliberately caused, the risk is that liberals are silenced on criticising religion, Islam in particular. Are you for the niqab or for Boris’s racism? That’s a preposterous choice.

As vice-president of Humanists UK, I have frequently criticised religion. Humanists never seek to ban anyone from practising any archaic superstition, but we do argue against the state sponsoring unreason or aiding the religious indoctrination of children. We are passionate free-speech advocates, standing with Voltaire’s (not quite) quote, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”.

No one is gagging Johnson, though his defenders – all rightwing Brexiteers – leap to his defence, with Jacob Rees-Mogg calling this a “show trial”. Even Christine Hamilton clodhops on to the Boris bandwagon, by comparing the niqab to a KKK hood. Meanwhile, his Tory accusers are remainers – Damian Green, Dominic Grieve and assorted Cameronites. Everything in this mortally split party is forever inflected through Brexit.

Johnson is under “disciplinary investigation”, which could lead to suspension or even ejection. That’s an internal party matter to set the boundaries of Tory racism, just as Labour wrestles insanely over antisemitism. Will Johnson be sent for diversity training? How the party resolves this will entertain outsiders, but it’s not a national free speech issue. The Metropolitan police commissioner, Cressida Dick, rightly moved fast to scotch any question of the law intruding.

Herbert Morrison (Peter Mandelson’s grandfather) once said: “Don’t tell me what’s in the motion, just tell me who’s putting it.” In politics, the motives of the speaker matter most. A female comedian of Pakistani heritage writing jokes comparing the niqab to a dustbin liner and a letterbox inhabits another planet to an entitled Old Etonian princeling politician race-signalling to grub up votes by tormenting a tiny group of vulnerable women. Shazia Mirza shows how people of every heritage can mock extremes in their own culture and bring us all closer together. But the Johnson brouhaha divides: it has “emboldened mainly male perpetrators to have a go at visible Muslim women”, says the NGO Tell Mama, which reports rising incidents of abuse of women wearing niqabs, as well as hijabs, which don’t cover the face.

Johnson aims to normalise rudeness to Muslims – the easiest hate targets following Islamist terror attacks. In every society, racism is only dormant for as long as it stays socially unacceptable, but it’s a virus easily released by any contemptible politician willing to stoop so low.

The Muslim Council of Britain on Sunday wrote to the prime minister calling for no “whitewashing” in the Johnson inquiry, while reporting a new spate of hate mail. On the BBC Today programme, its spokesman Miqdaad Versi accused Johnson of “deliberately stirring up hatred”, as “a senior politician making a political move”. Indeed, even in the unlikely event that Johnson grovels out an apology, the damage is done – or for him, the racism prize is won.

But Versi said something else, too: he accused Johnson of “dehumanising Muslim women”. That was a step too far. What could be more dehumanising than the niqab and the burqa? Hiding a woman dehumanises her completely, turning a person into an anonymous thing.

On visits to Afghanistan I have been shocked to see how contemptuously women in burqas are treated in the street, often shoved aside by men as obstacles in the way. The burqa doesn’t give women more respect, but less. Visiting secretive women’s groups in Kabul, I heard them voice hatred for the compulsory garment they discarded in the hall. Nor, as I wrote at the time, was the burqa a Taliban fetish; it was also imposed by the Northern Alliance “liberators” for whom we invaded.

Outside Boris Johnson’s constituency office last week, a small group of niqab-wearers demonstrated with signs reading: “My dress, my choice”. Fair enough. Even cake-and-eat-it Johnson professed their right to wear what they liked, while playing the race card. But the few women who are educated, liberated and free to choose the niqab as a religious symbol of an extreme fundamentalist creed are almost certainly a minority. Many whom Johnson has made more vulnerable to attack will be undefended, non-English speakers, obedient to men and a culture over which they have little choice, like the Muslim women I have met in English classes.

Religions have always branded their identities by restrictions on women. Christianity, Judaism, Islam and others all set out with extreme rules proclaiming a disgust of unclean women’s bodies, with ritualised baths, head-shaving, denying abortion and contraception, arranged marriages, purdah, churching of new mothers, and barring women from priesthoods. Inside extreme cults and sects, abuse of women is almost inevitable.

Only when the hot phase of a faith cools down to homogenised Thought for the Day blandness do women begin to breathe freer. But liberation takes bravery, as with the 50 Muslim women in Scotland launching an equality campaign, Scottish Mosques For All, complaining of no women on mosque committees, nor women speakers, no creches, not even prayer facilities. But as yet they dare not speak to the media, only launching a Facebook questionnaire.

Humanists campaign against religions dividing communities. I doubt Boris Johnson will join our campaign against faith schools, as his party seeks to extend them. For community cohesion, niqabs matter a lot less than this most irreligious of countries allowing a third of state schools to be run by religious groups. But his intention is to sow discord, on which he hopes to ride to triumph.

• Polly Toynbee is a Guardian columnist

segunda-feira, 13 de agosto de 2018

Climate change will push millions from their homes. Where will they go?



Aquilo que a Europa sente neste momento, uma pressão intensa de migrações, com todas suas as consequências sociais, políticas e humanas, é, através das alterações do clima, apenas o início de uma vaga intensa de deslocações e gigantescas pressões e desafios ...
Os mais atentos tinham consciência disto e foram avisando … mas só agora, que os primeiros verdadeiros efeitos das Alterações do Clima são sentidos directamente e são inegáveis , os “media”começam a dar verdadeira atenção a este prelúdio de Apocalipse.
OVOODOCORVO, pragmáticamente e de forma realista, não partilha do tom optimista e irrealísticamente conciliador deste video ...
OVOODOCORVO
"In 2017, storms, floods, and droughts displaced 18 million people from their homes worldwide. And by some estimates, over the next three decades, 200 million people may need to leave their homes to escape the same kind of disasters, made worse by climate change. Where in the world will all these people go?"


Heat: the next big inequality issue
 In India, 24 cities are expected to reach average summertime highs of 35C by 2050. Photograph: Yasmin Mund/Barcroft Media
The deadly global heatwave has made it impossible to ignore: in cities worldwide, we are now divided into the cool haves and the hot have-nots

by Amy Fleming with Ruth Michaelson and Adham Youssef in Cairo, Oliver Holmes in Jerusalem, Carmela Fonbuena in Manila and Holly Robertson in Phnom Penh

Cities is supported by
Rockefeller FoundationAbout this content
Mon 13 Aug 2018 10.42 BST Last modified on Mon 13 Aug 2018 16.28 BST


When July’s heatwave swept through the Canadian province of Quebec, killing more than 90 people in little over a week, the unrelenting sunshine threw the disparities between rich and poor into sharp relief.

While the well-heeled residents of Montreal hunkered down in blissfully air conditioned offices and houses, the city’s homeless population – not usually welcome in public areas such as shopping malls and restaurants – struggled to escape the blanket of heat.

Benedict Labre House, a day centre for homeless people, wasn’t able to secure a donated air-conditioning unit until five days into the heatwave. “You can imagine when you have 40 or 50 people in an enclosed space and it’s so hot, it’s very hard to deal with,” says Francine Nadler, clinical coordinator at the facility.

Fifty-four Montreal residents were killed by this summer’s heat. Authorities haven’t so far specified whether any homeless people were among them, but according to the regional department of public health, the majority were aged over 50, lived alone, and had underlying physical or mental health problems. None had air conditioning. Montreal coroner Jean Brochu told reporters that many of the bodies examined by his team “were in an advanced state of decay, having sometimes spent up to two days in the heat before being found”.

Dying in a heatwave is like being slowly cooked. It’s pure torture ... this heat can kill soldiers, athletes, everyone
Professor ​Camilo Mora

It was the poor and isolated who quietly suffered the most in the heat – a situation echoed in overheated cities across the world. In the US, immigrant workers are three times more likely to die from heat exposure than American citizens. In India, where 24 cities are expected to reach average summertime highs of at least 35C (95F) by 2050, it is the slum dwellers who are most vulnerable. And as the global risk of prolonged exposure to deadly heat steadily rises, so do the associated risks of human catastrophe.

Last year, Hawaiian researchers projected that the share of the world’s population exposed to deadly heat for at least 20 days a year will increase from 30% now to 74% by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are allowed to grow. (It will rise to 48% with “drastic reductions”.) They concluded that “an increasing threat to human life from excess heat now seems almost inevitable”.

 “Dying in a heatwave is like being slowly cooked,” said lead author Professor Camilo Mora at the time of publication. “It’s pure torture. The young and elderly are at particular risk, but we found that this heat can kill soldiers, athletes, everyone.”

Killer temperatures
 The effects of heat haze is seen as pedestrians cross a street during a heatwave in Tokyo.

The year 2018 is set to be among the hottest since records began, with unprecedented peak temperatures engulfing the planet, from 43C (109F) in Baku, Azerbaijan, to the low 30s across Scandinavia. In Kyoto, Japan, the mercury did not dip below 38C (100F) for a week. In the US, an unusually early and humid July heatwave saw 48.8C (120F) in Chino, inland of Los Angeles. Residents blasted their air conditioners so much they caused power shortages.

Urban areas are reaching these killer temperatures faster than those that are less populated. Cities absorb, create and radiate heat. Asphalt, brick, concrete and dark roofs act like sponges for heat during the day and emit warmth at night. Air conditioning is a lifesaver for those who can afford it, but it makes the streets even hotter for those who can’t.

“Urban heat islands, combined with an ageing population and increased urbanisation, are projected to increase the vulnerability of urban populations, especially the poor, to heat-related health impacts in the future,” a US government assessment warned.

The World Health Organisation says that 60% of people will live in cities by 2030, and the more densely populated they become, the hotter they’ll get. Considering that recent predictions warn temperatures in South Asia will exceed the limits of human survival by the end of the century, every degree counts. Even this year, 65 people have perished from nearly 44C (111F) heat in Karachi, Pakistan – a city used to extreme heat.

These problems are worse for vulnerable or low-income populations living near traffic in poor housing with no air conditioning
Tarik Benmarhnia, public health researcher

But the impact is not evenly distributed. For example, there is a strong correlation between an area’s green spaces and its wealth; when shade from tree canopies can lower surfaces’ peak temperature by 11–25°C, “landscape is a predictor for morbidity in heatwaves”, says Tarik Benmarhnia, public health researcher at University of California San Diego. A review paper he recently co-authored found that people living in less vegetated areas had a 5% higher risk of death from heat-related causes.

In 2017, researchers at University of California, Berkeley were able to map racial divides in the US by proximity to trees. Black people were 52% more likely than white people to live in areas of unnatural “heat risk-related land cover”, while Asians were 32% more likely and Hispanics 21%.

Air pollution is more deadly in these areas, too, as nitrous oxides generate ozone when heated by the sun, inflaming airways and increasing mortality risk. “These problems are worse,” says Benmarhnia, “for vulnerable or low-income populations living near traffic in poor housing with no air conditioning.”

But air conditioning will remain out of reach for many, even as it increasingly becomes a necessity. In 2014, Public Health England raised concerns that “the distribution of cooling systems may reflect socioeconomic inequalities unless they are heavily subsidised,” adding that rising fuel costs could further exacerbate this. And when we need to use less energy and cool the planet, not just our homes and offices, relying upon air conditioning is not a viable long-term plan – and certainly not for everyone.

‘In Cairo everything is suffocating’

Most of the research into heatwaves and public health has focused on western countries; Benmarhnia says more studies have been done on the city of Phoenix, Arizona, than the entire continent of Africa. But the problem is global, and especially pronounced across urban slums such as the ashwiyyat in Cairo, where temperatures during the city’s five-month-long summers have peaked at 46C (115F).

Traditionally Egyptians built low buildings close together, forming dense networks of shaded alleyways where people could keep cool during summer. But the rapid construction of high-rises and decreasing green spaces have made one of the fastest-growing cities in the world increasingly stifling. Subsidy cuts have brought about a rise of 18-42% in electricity costs, affecting many poor residents’ options for cooling down.

Um Hamad, 41, works as a cleaner and lives with his family in a small flat in Musturad in the city’s north. Though he considers them lucky to live on the relatively cool first floor, “in Cairo everything is suffocating”, he says. Hamad use fans and water to keep cool inside, but the water bill is becoming expensive . “There’s always that trick of sleeping on the floor, and we wear cotton clothes ,” he says. “The temperatures are harder to deal with for women who wear the hijab, so I always tell my daughters to wear only two layers and to wear bright colours.”

In a tight-knit cluster of urban dwellings in Giza, to Cairo’s south, Yassin Al-Ouqba, 42, a train maintenance worker, lives in a house built from a mixture of bricks and mud-bricks. In August, he says, it becomes “like an oven”. “I have a fan and I place it in front of a plate of ice so that it spreads cold air throughout the room. I spread cold water all over the sheets.”

Manila: ‘It gets hellish in summer’
In tropical Manila in the Philippines, where highs above 30C are intensified by stifling humidity, air conditioning is a luxury even for those in medical care. The Dr Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital is said to have one of the world’s busiest maternity wards, with free contraception only recently made available in the predominantly Catholic country.

An air-conditioned private room costs 650 Philippine pesos per night – less than £10, but far beyond the means of most mothers-to-be, who end up in wards reliant on fans buzzing softly on wall mounts. “These fans work nonstop 24 hours a day, so they never last a year,” says Maribel Bote, a nurse at the hospital for 28 years.

The problem is compounded by regular overcrowding: in the maternity ward, known as ground zero of the country’s overpopulation crisis, as many as five mothers have been forced to share one bed. “It gets hellish in the summer – the fans blow hot air,” says Bote. “You’ll see the mothers using paper fans to cool themselves.”

In Cambodia, which has seen devastating heatwaves and drought in recent years, surviving the heat is as much a question of status for prisoners as it is for civilians. In the early 2000s Chao Sophea, 30, spent more than two years at Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison after being convicted on drug charges, which she denies. At the time she was three months pregnant; Sophea’s child spent its first year in an overcrowded cell designated for pregnant women and new mothers.

We slept like smoked fish on a skewer. There was no air conditioning, not even a fan
Former Prey Sar prisoner

“It was actually a steaming room,” says Sophea today. “I was using a fan made of a palm leaf to cool my baby down – that was what I could afford. There was a tiny hole in the wall, but can you imagine how much air you would absorb in such a crowded space? We made a request for an electric fan, but it never arrived.”

An environmental activist who wishes to remain anonymous says he shared a cell of about four square metres with at least 25 other men when he was held in Prey Sar’s men’s wing earlier this year. “We slept like smoked fish on a skewer. There was no air conditioning, not even a fan.”

Others may be able to secure better conditions. A 2015 report by the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights stated that “some prisons reportedly house ‘VIP cells’ for well-connected prisoners or those able to pay for single-cell accommodation,” and these are believed to be air conditioned.

Jordan: in a metal box in the desert

Compounding the threat posed by the changing climate is the refugee crisis. The two are intimately linked, with extreme weather events often a factor in social, political and economic instability. A paper published in the journal Science in December found that if greenhouse gas emissions were not meaningfully reduced global asylum applications would increase by almost 200% by the end of the century.

On a plain north of Amman, some 80,000 Syrians live in the Za’atari refugee camp, a semi-permanent urban settlement set up six years ago and now considered Jordan’s fourth-largest city. Hamda Al-Marzouq, 27, arrived three years ago, fleeing airstrikes on her neighbourhood in the outskirts of Damascus.

Her husband had gone missing during the war, and she was desperate to save her young son and extended family. Eight of them now live in a prefabricated shelter, essentially a large metal box, which Al-Marzouq says turns into an oven during the summer.

It’s suffocating. We soak the towels and try to breathe through them

Hamda Al-Marzouq, Za’atari camp resident
“It’s a desert area, and we’re suffering,” she says by phone from the camp. “We have different ways of coping. We wake in the early morning and soak the floor with water. Then we sprinkle water on ourselves.” There is no daytime electricity, so fans are useless. When power does arrive at night, the desert has already cooled.

Many days, her family will wait until the evening to walk outside, wrapping wet towels around their heads. But the biggest problem are sandstorms, which can arrive violently during the summer months and engulf the camp for days. “We have to close the caravan windows,” she says, adding the room then gets hotter. “It’s suffocating. We soak the towels and try to breathe through them.”

Al-Marzouq’s five-year-old son suffers respiratory problems and keeps getting infections, while asthma is rife across the camp.

Water has also been an issue, with demand in northern Jordan – one of the most water-scarce countries in the world – surging following the refugee arrivals. A Unicef-led operation will see all households connected to a water network by October, which Al-Marzouq says has been a significant help.

“We used to collect water with jerry cans and had to carry it for long distances. Now, with the water network being operational, things are much easier. We don’t have to fight in a long queue to get our share of water. Now there is equity.”

Across the board, lack of equality has been found to feed the urban furnaces. The US researchers who in 2013 uncovered the racial divide in urban heat vulnerability discovered that the more segregated a city was, the hotter it was for everyone. Rachel Morello-Frosch, one of the co-authors, told the LA Times at the time that “this pattern of racial segregation appears to increase everyone’s risk of living in a heat-prone environment”.

Treating cities as a whole, ghettos and all, is a more effective way to tackle extreme urban heat, they found. Researchers recommended planting more trees and increasing light-coloured surfaces to reduce the overall heat island effect, adding that urban planning to mitigate future extreme heat “should proactively incorporate an environmental justice perspective and address racial/ethnic disparities”.

Cities will have to rethink how we prepare for these emergencies and what we’re able to offer to all of our citizens
Francine Nadler, Benedict Labre House

Working to break social isolation, says Benmarhnia, “is a win-win situation”, with the added benefit of bringing the “invisible” people most at risk – like the homeless, and illegal immigrants – back into the community, where they can be looked after.

In at least one of the world’s hottest countries, steps are starting to be taken. India recently announced that a series of common-sense public health interventions have led to an enormous reduction in heat-related deaths – from 2,040 in 2015, to a little over 200 in 2017. Successful measures included unlocking the gates to public parks during the day, distributing free water, and painting the roofs of slum communities white, knocking 5C off internal temperatures.

Montreal first implemented a similar heat action plan in 2004, reducing mortality on hot days by 2.52 deaths per day, but as the heat waves intensify, it is likely that this will need to be reassessed. Nadler says the devastating impacts of global warming are only just beginning to dawn on everyone. “Cities will have to rethink how we prepare for these emergencies and what we’re able to offer to all of our citizens – from the most affluent, to the most vulnerable.”

Additional reporting by Ruth Michaelson with Adham Youssef in Cairo, Oliver Holmes in Jerusalem, Carmela Fonbuena in Manila and Holly Robertson in Phnom Penh

Temperatura do Mar Mediterrâneo sobe 3 graus durante onda de calor



Temperatura do Mar Mediterrâneo sobe 3 graus durante onda de calor

A temperatura da água chegou perto dos 30 graus celsius no Mediterrâneo e dos 25 graus no Cantábrico, revelam os números da agência meteorológica espanhola.

PÚBLICO 11 de Agosto de 2018, 20:42

Na semana passada, o mar Mediterrâneo e o Cantábrico oriental (no Golfo da Biscaia), que banham o Este e o Norte de Espanha, chegaram a temperaturas recorde: entre 3 e 4 graus superiores ao normal, de acordo com a agência Meteorológica Estatal espanhola. O pico de temperatura coincidiu com o da onda de calor que também atingiu o território espanhol, mas é um dos episódios que reforçam a tendência de aquecimento dos oceanos e preocupa os especialistas em alterações climáticas.

A temperatura da água chegou perto dos 30 graus celsius no Mediterrâneo e dos 25 graus no Cantábrico, revelam os números da agência meteorológica espanhola. São valores superiores ao normal para o início do mês de Agosto para ambas as zonas, de acordo com a mesma agência. Os dados europeus são corroborados pelos norte-americanos: também a Administração Nacional Atmosférica e Oceânica dos Estados Unidos (NOAA) afirma que o Mediterrâneo esteve entre 3 e 4,5 graus mais quente do que o habitual.

A forte insolação, associada ao episódio de calor extremo e a estabilidade atmosférica justificam os registos porque provocam “o aquecimento rápido” das águas à superfície, diz o porta-voz da agência meteorológica espanhola, Rubén del Campo, à agência Europa Press.

Explica o porta-voz que estes dados são medições da água superficial realizadas por satélite e que são também resultado do vento fraco sentido na costa espanhola nos últimos dias. Quando chegam ventos fortes, a temperatura desce rapidamente e volta aos valores normais, continua del Campo.

De acordo com os registos da Rede de Bóias dos Portos do Estado, o recorde absoluto da temperatura da água no Mediterrâneo e Cantábrico foi quebrado durante a onda de calor. Escreve o diário ABC que os registos ainda têm de ser verificados, mas que a bóia de Tarragona (na Catalunha) chegou aos 29,1 graus no dia 7; a de Barcelona II alcançou 28,8 no dia 6 e a de Bilbau, a Norte, registou 26,2 graus a 5 de Agosto.

Quatro dias depois do fim da onda de calor, a bóia de Tarragona ainda apontava para os 28 graus e a de Bilbau para os 22,7.

Temperatura da água do mar a aumentar
A temperatura da água é habitualmente mais elevada em meados de Agosto, mas este ano o pico registou-se no início do mês. Rubén del Campo acrescenta que é cada vez mais “frequente” que a camada superficial do mar esteja “mais quente do que o habitual”, seguindo a mesma linha da temperatura do ar.

De acordo com o painel de peritos de alterações climáticas da ONU, a temperatura da água do mar está a aumentar um décimo de grau (0,1 graus) por década. E o nível médio da água do mar subiu 0,19 metros entre 1901 e 2010. No caso específico do Mediterrâneo, um estudo publicado na Pure  and  Applied  Geophysics constatou que entre 1982 e 2016, a temperatura subiu mais de um grau centígrado e que em algumas áreas específicas o aumento foi entre 1,2 e 1,5 graus.

Não são apenas os mares espanhóis que estão a ficar mais quentes. Também o Mar Báltico, que banha a península escandinava, esteve, durante a onda de calor a Norte, mais quente do que o Mediterrâneo — seis graus acima do normal, de acordo com a Organização Meteorológica Mundial. “Levou à proliferação de algas mais grave alguma vez registada no Báltico nas últimas décadas, resultando em água insalubre para seres humanos e animais”, informou a mesma fonte.

Halfway to boiling: the city at 50C




Sweltering cities
Halfway to boiling: the city at 50C

 In a city at 50C, the only people in sight are those who do not have access to air conditioning. Illustration: Kevin Whipple
It is the temperature at which human cells start to cook, animals suffer and air conditioners overload power grids. Once an urban anomaly, 50C is fast becoming reality

by Jonathan Watts and Elle Hunt
Cities is supported by
Rockefeller FoundationAbout this content

Imagine a city at 50C (122F). The pavements are empty, the parks quiet, entire neighbourhoods appear uninhabited. Nobody with a choice ventures outside during daylight hours. Only at night do the denizens emerge, HG Wells-style, into the streets – though, in temperatures that high, even darkness no longer provides relief. Uncooled air is treated like effluent: to be flushed as quickly as possible.

School playgrounds are silent as pupils shelter inside. In the hottest hours of the day, working outdoors is banned. The only people in sight are those who do not have access to air conditioning, who have no escape from the blanket of heat: the poor, the homeless, undocumented labourers. Society is divided into the cool haves and the hot have-nots.

Those without the option of sheltering indoors can rely only on shade, or perhaps a water-soaked sheet hung in front of a fan. Construction workers, motor-rickshaw drivers and street hawkers cover up head to toe to stay cool. The wealthy, meanwhile, go from one climate-conditioned environment to another: homes, cars, offices, gymnasiums, malls.

Asphalt heats up 10-20C higher than the air. You really could fry an egg on the pavement. A dog’s paws would blister on a short walk, so pets are kept behind closed doors. There are fewer animals overall; many species of mammals and birds have migrated to cooler environments, perhaps at a higher altitude – or perished. Reptiles, unable to regulate their body temperatures or dramatically expand their range, are worst placed to adapt. Even insects suffer.


Maybe in the beginning, when it was just a hot spell, there was a boom in spending as delighted consumers snapped up sunglasses, bathing suits, BBQs, garden furniture and beer. But the novelty quickly faded when relentless sunshine became the norm. Consumers became more selective. Power grids are overloaded by cooling units. The heat is now a problem.

The temperature is recalibrating behaviour. Appetites tend to fade as the body avoids the thermal effect of food and tempers are quicker to flare – along, perhaps, with crime and social unrest. But eventually lethargy sets in as the body shuts down and any prolonged period spent outdoors becomes dangerous.

Hospitals see a surge in admissions for heat stress, respiratory problems and other illnesses exacerbated by high temperatures. Some set up specialist wards. The elderly, the obese and the sick are most at risk. Deaths rise.

At 50C – halfway to water’s boiling point and more than 10C above a healthy body temperature – heat becomes toxic. Human cells start to cook, blood thickens, muscles lock around the lungs and the brain is choked of oxygen. In dry conditions, sweat – the body’s in-built cooling system – can lessen the impact. But this protection weakens if there is already moisture in the air.

A so-called “wet-bulb temperature” (which factors in humidity) of just 35C can be fatal after a few hours to even the fittest person, and scientists warn climate change will make such conditions increasingly common in India, Pakistan, south-east Asia and parts of China. Even under the most optimistic predictions for emissions reductions, experts say almost half the world’s population will be exposed to potentially deadly heat for 20 days a year.

Not long ago, 50C was considered an anomaly, but it is increasingly widespread. Earlier this year, the 1.1 million residents of Nawabshah, Pakistan, endured the hottest April ever recorded on Earth, as temperatures hit 50.2C. In neighbouring India two years earlier, the town of Phalodi sweltered in 51C – the country’s hottest ever day.

Dev Niyogi, chair of the Urban Environment department at the American Meteorological Society, witnessed how cities were affected by extreme heat on a research trip to New Delhi and Pune during that 2015 heatwave in India, which killed more than 2,000 people.

“You could see the physical change. Road surfaces started to melt, neighbourhoods went quiet because people didn’t go out and water vapour rose off the ground like a desert mirage,” he recalls.

“We must hope that we don’t see 50C. That would be uncharted territory. Infrastructure would be crippled and ecosystem services would start to break down, with long-term consequences.”

 Pilgrims taking part in the Hajj in Mecca walk down a road with a water spray cooling system, part of an increasingly sophisticated support system required to beat the heat.
Hajj pilgrims in Mecca are sprayed with cool water
Several cities in the Persian Gulf are getting increasingly accustomed to such heat. Basra – population 2.1 million – registered 53.9C two years ago. Kuwait City and Doha have experienced 50C or more in the past decade. At Quriyat, on the coast of Oman, overnight temperatures earlier this summer remained above 42.6C, which is believed to be the highest “low” temperature ever recorded in the world.

At Mecca, the two million hajj pilgrims who visit each year need ever more sophisticated support to beat the heat. On current trends, it is only a matter of time before temperatures exceed the record 51.3C reached in 2012. Last year, traditionalists were irked by plans to install what are reportedly the world’s biggest retractable umbrellas to provide shade on the courtyards and roof of the Great Mosque. Air conditioners weighing 25 tonnes have been brought in to ventilate four of the biggest tents. Thousands of fans already cool the marble floors and carpets, while police on horseback spray the crowds with water.

The blast of furnace-like heat ... literally feels life-threatening and apocalyptic

Professor Nigel Tapper

Football supporters probably cannot expect such treatment at the Qatar World Cup in 2022, and many may add to the risks of hyperthermia and dehydration by taking off their shirts and drinking alcohol. Fifa is so concerned about conditions that it has moved the final from summer to a week before Christmas. Heat is also why Japanese politicians are now debating whether to introduce daylight saving time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics so that marathon and racewalk athletes can start at what is currently 5am and avoid mid-afternoon temperatures that recently started to pass 40C with humidity of more than 80%.

At the Australian open in Melbourne this year – when ambient temperatures reached 40C – players were staggering around like “punch-drunk boxers” due to heatstroke. Even walking outside can feel oppressive at higher temperatures. “The blast of furnace-like heat ... literally feels life-threatening and apocalyptic,” says Nigel Tapper, professor of environmental science at Melbourne’s Monash University, of the 48C recorded in parts of the city. “You cannot move outside for more than a few minutes.”

The feeling of foreboding is amplified by the increased threat of bush and forest fires, he adds. “You cannot help but ask, ‘How can this city operate under these conditions? What can we do to ensure that the city continues to provide important services for these conditions? What can we do to reduce temperatures in the city?’”

Those places already struggling with extreme heat are doing what they can. In Ahmedabad, in Gujarat, hospitals have opened specialist heat wards. Australian cities have made swimming pools accessible to the homeless when the heat creeps above 40C, and instructed schools to cancel playground time. In Kuwait, outside work is forbidden between noon and 4pm when temperatures soar.

But many regulations are ignored, and companies and individuals underestimate the risks. In almost all countries, hospital admissions and death rates tend to rise when temperatures pass 35C – which is happening more often, in more places. Currently, 354 major cities experience average summer temperatures in excess of 35C; by 2050, climate change will push this to 970, according to the recent “Future We Don’t Want” study by the C40 alliance of the world’s biggest metropolises. In the same period, it predicts the number of urban dwellers exposed to this level of extreme heat will increase eightfold, to 1.6 billion.

As baselines shift across the globe, 50C is also uncomfortably near for tens of millions more people. This year, Chino, 50km (30 miles) from Los Angeles, hit a record of 48.9C, Sydney saw 47C, and Madrid and Lisbon also experienced temperatures in the mid-40s. New studies suggest France “could easily exceed” 50C by the end of the century while Australian cities are forecast to reach this point even earlier. Kuwait, meanwhile, could sizzle towards an uninhabitable 60C.

How to cool dense populations is now high on the political and academic agenda, says Niyogi, who last week co-chaired an urban climate symposium in New York. Cities can be modified to deplete heat through measures to conserve water, create shade and deflect heat. In many places around the world, these steps are already under way.

The city at 50C could be more tolerable with lush green spaces on and around buildings; towers with smart shades that follow the movement of the sun; roofs and pavements painted with high-albedo surfaces; fog capture and renewable energy fields to provide cooling power without adding to the greenhouse effect.

But with extremes creeping up faster than baselines, Niyogi says this adapting will require changes not just to the design of cities, but how they are organised and how we live in them. First, though, we have to see what is coming – which might not hit with the fury of a flood or typhoon but can be even more destructive.

“Heat is different,” says Niyogi. “You don’t see the temperature creep up to 50C. It can take people unawares.”

Governo de Costa aprovou mais eucaliptos que o Executivo anterior



Governo de Costa aprovou mais eucaliptos que o Executivo anterior

José Macário
02 Nov 2017

Nos últimos quatro anos, foram plantados perto de 10 mil hectares de eucaliptos, uma área idêntica à de Lisboa. Do total plantado, 57% foi aprovado pelo atual Governo e 43% pelo executivo anterior.

Desde a entrada em vigor do “Regime Jurídico das Ações de Arborização e Rearborização”, em outubro de 2013, já foram plantados quase 10 mil hectares de eucalipto, uma área próxima da ocupada pela cidade de Lisboa. A denúncia é feita pela Quercus e pela Acréscimo – Associação de Promoção ao Investimento Florestal, no seguimento da análise dos dados do Instituto de Conservação da Natureza e das Florestas (ICNF).

A partir dos dados divulgados, que abarcam o período que medeia entre outubro de 2013 e o final do primeiro semestre de 2017, as duas organizações calculam que o Governo anterior tenha sido responsável por um acréscimo de 43% na plantação de eucaliptos. Já o atual Governo “é responsável, só até ao final do primeiro semestre do presente ano, por 57% da expansão legal desta espécie exótica em Portugal”, afirma a Quercus em comunicado.

A organização ambientalista refere também que o Executivo liderado por António Costa “se comprometeu a travar a expansão desta espécie em Portugal (conforme consta no seu Programa, página 179)”, mas que os do ICNF demonstram que se “regista um acréscimo significativo” em relação aos licenciamentos atribuídos pelo Governo anterior.

Ao invés da revogação, o que aconteceu foi uma alteração do Decreto-lei n.º 96/2013. A Lei n.º 77/2017, de 17 de agosto, proíbe as arborizações com eucalipto em áreas superiores a 0,5 hectares, mas só vai entrar em vigor em fevereiro do próximo ano, ou seja, “haverá ainda que considerar, no aumento da área de plantações de eucalipto, as autorizações que venham a ser concedidas no 2.º semestre de 2017 e no início de 2018”, observa a Quercus, que, juntamente com a Acréscimo, se revelam “seriamente preocupadas” com uma previsível “corrida” à plantação de novos eucaliptais antes da entrada em vigor da nova legislação.

domingo, 12 de agosto de 2018

"Foi a ganância e nada mais que a ganância que deu cabo da nossa serra"



"Foi a ganância e nada mais que a ganância que deu cabo da nossa serra"

Domingos Patacho, engenheiro florestal e especialista em política florestal da Quercus: “Aqui pensou-se numa coisa e numa coisa apenas: o lucro. Isto é um monumento à ganância.”
Nos montes mais escondidos do Algarve há pastores, lenhadores e destiladores de medronho que viram a serra de Monchique ser destruída ao longo de 15 anos. O pior incêndio de 2018 não foi surpresa para ninguém

Ricardo J. Rodrigues
12 Agosto 2018 — 06:31

Foi José Casimiro Duarte quem fez soar o alarme. Andava com os gados ao pasto quando viu o primeiro núcleo de chamas eclodir mesmo em frente ao lugar das Taipas, nos terrenos que hoje constituem um eucaliptal chamado Perna da Negra. Era sexta-feira, 3 de agosto, e o homem rumava a casa com 32 cabras para o almoço.

Ali não havia rede de telemóvel, por isso correu para o alto do barranco para ligar aos bombeiros. A chamada passou, às 13.32 eram acionados os meios de combate para um incêndio que acabaria por se tornar o pior deste ano em Portugal. Sete dias de fogo deram conta de 27 mil hectares de terreno na serra de Monchique. Quase três Lisboas.

"Então agora, vão dizer outra vez que o eucalipto não tem culpa nenhuma disto?" Aqui, no lugar de ignição do fogo, não há grande volta a dar-lhe. Tudo o que se vê à volta do pastor é uma paisagem densa de árvores, e todas da mesma espécie. Eucalyptus globulus, milhões deles, cobrem todo este vale da serra.

"Quando o vento levantava eu só via as cascas das árvores começarem a voar para diante e isto espalhou-se num instante." A aldeia onde vive foi evacuada mas ele, à conta do rebanho, chegou atrasado e já não teve quem o levasse da Foz do Carvalhoso. José Casimiro viu o fogo marchar sobre tudo, foram mais as casas aqui que arderam do que as que ficaram de pé. "E eu agarrado às chibas, a ver se não nos tocava a morte." Salvaram-se, homem e bichos. "O vento levou outro destino."

Nos últimos dias a conversa de Monchique tem-se centrado na organização do combate às chamas e nas suas responsabilidades políticas. Mas quando se desce ao lugar onde o fogo começou percebe-se que há uma discussão para fazer antes dessa. A pergunta de um cuidador de cabras pode ser mais sábia do que a discussão de um país inteiro. "Como é que deixaram plantar aqui tantos eucaliptos depois de 2003?"

"Um monumento à ganância"
Quem sai de Monchique e atravessa a Estrada Nacional 266 em direção a Odemira não percebe a densidade do mato que existe nos vales que não se veem do alcatrão. Junto à estrada o eucaliptal está queimado, sim, mas apresenta-se ordenado, há espaço entre as árvores, os terrenos estão limpos. Quando se desce para a Perna da Negra, no entanto, um outro cenário revela-se.

É o sétimo dia de incêndio e Domingos Patacho, engenheiro florestal e especialista em política florestal da Quercus, vem a Monchique para ver aquelas propriedades. Fica impressionado: são quilómetros e quilómetros de árvores plantadas com uma intensidade fora do comum e nenhuma preocupação com a gestão do espaço. "Aqui pensou-se numa coisa e numa coisa apenas: o lucro. Isto é um monumento à ganância."

Nas cumeadas a floresta está mais organizada, mas no vale, precisamente o lugar mais perigoso para o fogo, chegam a ver-se 1500 árvores por hectare, quando a gestão eficiente aconselharia metade. "Com o tempo quente, com os níveis de humidade baixos e com esta densidade de arvoredo estavam aqui reunidas as condições para uma tempestade perfeita. Foi o que aconteceu."

Domingos Patacho, engenheiro florestal e especialista em política florestal da Quercus: “Aqui pensou-se numa coisa e numa coisa apenas: o lucro. Isto é um monumento à ganância.”

A maioria dos eucaliptos está na segunda gestação, o que significa que foram plantados entre o final de 2003 e o início de 2004. Meses depois do primeiro grande fogo em Monchique, semeou-se gasolina na serra.

José Raimundo, o pastor, ouve a conversa e anuiu. Começa a apontar uma a uma as manchas enegrecidas. Este terreno era do senhor João, aquele era da dona Antónia, o outro do Manuel Paiva. Tinham eucalipto? "No alto do monte sim. Mas aqui em baixo só havia sobreiro e medronho."

Um namoro antigo
A serra de Monchique foi um dos primeiros lugares do país onde as celuloses investiram, no final dos anos 1960. Uma boa parte do eucaliptal que há na serra pertence às antigas Soporcel e Portucel, hoje Navigator Company. Abastece a fábrica de Setúbal e, quem atravessar por estes dias a A2, é provável que encontre na estrada vários camiões carregados de madeira a transportar o que escapou ao fogo.

O facto é que é da Navigator a floresta mais cuidada e vigiada. "O problema são muitas vezes os privados que se estabelecem à volta para alimentar esta indústria", diz o ambientalista da Quercus. "No país estima-se agora que exista um milhão de hectares de eucaliptos, mas apenas 155 mil são propriedade das celuloses."

Nas últimas duas décadas do século XX a exploração tornou-se dominante em Monchique, como em muitas outras zonas do país. Ao desenvolvimento de sementes em laboratório aliaram-se as técnicas de cultivo intensivo, que tornaram o eucaliptal na mina de ouro da região. "Houve muita gente nessa altura a converter o seu montado e os seus medronhais para eucaliptal", diz Domingos Patacho. "Mas havia apesar de tudo uma paisagem mais diversa do que agora. E, também, mais imune ao fogo."

A chamada lei do eucalipto livre, aprovada pela então ministra da Agricultura Assunção Cristas em 2013, abriu portas à plantação intensiva em qualquer parte, sem autorização nem aviso prévio

Os 40 mil hectares que arderam em 2003 deram um novo fôlego à produção florestal. No final de 2003, uma única empresa comprou três mil hectares de terreno para ali plantar eucaliptal. Mas é impossível saber o número exato da área tomada pela espécie australiana. O presidente da Câmara de Monchique, Rui André, queixa-se disso constantemente.

"Mesmo que conheçamos os proprietários do terreno, a lei não nos permite saber quais as densidades, quais as zonas de corte, quais as áreas de replantação. O mercado do eucalipto funciona sem que ninguém o controle", diz o autarca do PSD. "Se nós soubéssemos quais as zonas que tinham sido cortadas, por exemplo, tínhamos podido levar para lá as cisternas dos bombeiros e impedido as chamas de avançar."

A chamada lei do eucalipto livre, aprovada pela então ministra da Agricultura Assunção Cristas em 2013, abriu portas à plantação intensiva em qualquer parte, sem autorização nem aviso prévio.

"E é deste conjunto de fatores que chegamos aqui, a um cenário como a Perna da Negra", diz Domingos Patacho. "E, se nada for feito, ele voltará a repetir-se." O ambientalista teme que nada mude com este fogo de Monchique. Uma coisa é certa: expansão do eucaliptal não haverá.

"Apesar de, depois dos incêndios de 2017, o governo ter proibido que novas áreas sejam colonizadas, a replantação intensiva é permitida nas zonas onde já existia eucaliptal. Agora olhe em volta e veja o que vai acontecer quando esta densidade calamitosa de eucaliptos for substituída por uma nova?" A única solução, afiança, é arrancar uma parte dos eucaliptos de vez.

A renovação da dor
"Agora chega, vou-me embora", e Maria Martins Fernando tem de engolir o choro se quiser continuar a falar. Era a última habitante do Canivete, um ermo de cinco habitações ao fundo daquele vale isolado. A casa ardeu e hoje a mulher veio retirar o que sobrou dos seus haveres. Encontra umas panelas carbonizadas, talvez se safem. Há um mealheiro cheio de moedas de escudo. Uma boneca com que a neta gostava de brincar.


Na zona de Canivete, onde começou o incêndio de 2003 - e que agora voltou a arder -, Maria Martins Fernando sobrevive como a última habitante.

© Orlando Almeida/Global Imagens

Tem 71 anos e mudou-se para esta casa aos 7. Ali se casou, criou três filhos, ficou viúva, e sempre que a descendência tentava convencê-la a mudar-se para a vila a mulher resistia. "Esta era a minha terra, o meu chão. Foi aqui que construí tudo o que sou. E agora tudo ardeu."

As chamas entraram pelo telhado, destruíram primeiro a sala, depois o quarto, por fim a cozinha. Vê-la agora a passear-se pelos escombros à procura das memórias é como olhar para uma cria que perdeu a mãe. "Isto era o meu chão", repete.

Foi aqui, neste fim do mundo, que começou o grande fogo de 2003. Maria Fernando lembra-se bem, estava deitada a dormir a sesta quando ouviu um barulho que parecia chuva. "Foi ali, naqueles eucaliptos atrás do montado", e um dedo coberto de fuligem aponta para norte. "A não mais de 200 metros."

Nessa altura ainda era vivo o marido, e tinham uma neta a seu cargo. Apesar de o fogo ter consumido tudo, safaram-se porque à volta da casa só existiam sobreiros, árvores que ardem mais lentamente e lhes deu tempo para salvarem a vida à mangueirada.

Neste ano andava fora de casa quando o fogo chegou. "Tinha ido a Monchique ter com o meu filho e já não me deixaram passar a estrada de volta." O seu problema, mais do que a casa, eram as galinhas e os coelhos. "Pobrezinhos dos bichos, morreram todos queimados. Eram a minha companhia." Desmancha-se, fica uns minutos em silêncio, depois lá se recompõe. "Sabe porque é que isto ardeu? Foi a ganância e apenas a ganância. Foi isso que deu cabo da nossa serra."

De repente aparece António Fernando, 53 anos, o seu primogénito. A mãe corre a mostrar-lhe o mealheiro e o homem agacha-se para contar as moedas, era da sua infância aquele tesouro. "Foi a ganância, pois foi", diz com uma raiva que ecoa nos montes em volta. "Foi o eucalipto, e eu estava farto de dizer à minha mãe que aqui havia demasiado. Não quero pensar o que seria dela se nesse dia estivesse para aqui sozinha."


Ao longo da área ardida, resta apenas uma reduzida crosta de vegetação verde junto ao rio, refúgio para os animais sobreviventes

© Orlando Almeida/Global Imagens

António deixou a escola aos 13 anos e, desde então, tornou-se lenhador. Trabalha apenas com sobreiro e medronheiro, não que tenha uma paixão particular por estas árvores - é que estas foram as que conheceu toda a vida e são as únicas que sabe trabalhar. A família tinha um hectare no Canivete, dava para tirar uma arroba de cortiça a cada sete anos, dava para fazer licor de medronho para consumo familiar. Foi-se.

"Em 2003 tentaram comprar-me isto para fazer eucaliptal, mas o meu pai sempre disse que o medronho é que era o produto da nossa terra - e eu sou teimoso. Então nunca vendi." Os vizinhos venderam todos.

Até há 15 anos, o vale do Canivete tinha apenas um pequeno eucaliptal a 200 metros da casa dos Fernando, o tal onde começou o fogo. Agora está carregadinho de uma ponta à outra, e as únicas árvores que resistiam à monotonia eram as que rodeavam aquela casa. Foram sobreiros, foram medronheiros, agora são só toros carbonizados, parecem enormes lápis que alguém enfiou no solo.

"Agora chega, vou-me embora", anuncia Maria Martins Fernando com uma cara fechada. Ela e o filho carregam a carrinha com as sobras das labaredas, entram e despedem-se de vez. A vida que sempre conheceram acabou agora.

Uma estratégia certeira
Quando, em setembro de 2003, se extinguiram as últimas chamas do mais imponente incêndio a que o Algarve assistiu, um novo ator entrou no terreno. "Nessa altura, a ENCE, a maior celulose espanhola, comprou uma série de terrenos na serra de Monchique para plantar eucalipto. Tinham uma fábrica de transformação em Huelva e aqui adquiriam a matéria-prima", explica Rui André, presidente da câmara. A maior parte dos negócios foi firmada através de uma empresa chamada IberFlorestal, que ainda hoje opera na região. Possui uma série de terrenos e assegura o corte e o transporte da madeira que antes ia para a ENCE - e hoje ruma à Navigator. Há dias, em entrevista ao Público, o gestor da empresa descartava responsabilidades na sobreprodução de Eucalyptus globulus. "Não são os eucaliptos que provocam os incêndios", disse Rui Oliveira, explicando que a empresa tinha o seu próprio corpo de combate aos incêndios e tinha limpo os terrenos. "Ao lado das nossas propriedades, os terrenos estavam por limpar."


Mesmo ao sétimo dia do fogo que fustigou a serra de Monchique, na zona de Pedra Negra, onde começou o grande incêndio de 2018, era visível a paisagem preenchida por uma grande área de plantação de eucaliptos

© Orlando Almeida/Global Imagens

Durante dez anos, nunca ninguém soube quantos hectares de terreno ao certo a ENCE adquiriu. A resposta só chegou em 2013, quando a celulose espanhola decidiu terminar a sua unidade de produção na Andaluzia e anunciou num comunicado "decidir vender os três mil hectares que possuía em Monchique a um fundo internacional." O Jornal de Negócios, nessa altura, tentou apurar a propriedade do fundo de investimento, mas nunca conseguiu.

"O que se passou foi que, depois do fogo de 2003, muitas famílias desistiram de viver na serra e os terrenos iam ficar ao abandono. Então, perante a hipótese de venda ou aluguer, não hesitaram", diz Emílio Vidigal, presidente da Associação de Proprietários Florestais do Barlavento Algarvio - ASPAFLOBAL. A história que Maria Fernando conta em 2018 - "agora acabou" - é o terreno fértil para as plantações de eucalipto florescerem. À medida que se abandona o interior, ganha-se espaço para a produção.

Emílio Vidigal representa 500 produtores. Diz que 70% são pequenos proprietários, é a floresta explorada em minifúndio. "Os outros 30 são as empresas de celulose e duas ou três grandes famílias que têm aqui terrenos." Foram essencialmente estes que ficaram com os terrenos que eram da ENCE e lançaram semente de eucalipto à Perna da Negra, o lugar de ignição de 2018.

Também há dias, e também no Público, Vidigal acusou o governo de ter há sete meses um plano de ordenamento florestal para aprovar naqueles precisos terrenos, e do qual não obtivera resposta. O Ministério da Agricultura não respondeu ao jornal, mas emitiu no dia seguinte um comunicado dizendo que o que havia era uma candidatura a fundos europeus para montar esse projeto.

Mas porque é que os produtores não construíram à partida um eucaliptal seguro? "Estão a ser mal geridos, efetivamente. Mas o Estado não pode continuar a não querer investir numa produção que traz riqueza ao país. E, muito mesmo, à economia local", respondeu ao DN.

O sonho do medronho
Há um ano, João Rochato e Amanda Baganha mudaram-se para uma casa na Taipa, mesmo em frente à Perna da Negra. Têm dois filhos, Theo e Aurora, ambos nascidos em casa. São naturalistas e acreditaram que podiam transformar a sua casa numa habitação autossustentável. A luz vem de um painel fotovoltaico, a água do poço, depois tinham a horta e os animais que arderam. O fogo trocou-lhes as voltas.


É na Taipa, zona da Pedra Negra, que João Rochato e Amanda Baganha vivem com os filhos há um ano. Viveram um cenário de horror.

© Orlando Almeida/Global Imagens

"A horta ardeu toda, animais só sobraram os cães, e os terrenos que tenho aqui atrás de casa estão reduzidos a cinzas", diz João - e um desconsolo sem fim. Trabalha como técnico de manutenção na barragem de Odelouca, mas o seu sonho era outro, era fazer uma destilaria para o medronho.

"Tenho um terreno de eucalipto, já estava plantado quando cheguei. Deram-me 7500 euros por ele e eu, sim senhor, levem. Queria plantar medronheiros, mas a pressão é muito grande." Ele explica: os madeireiros andam atrás dele a dizer que lhe põem as sementes, tratam das árvores, fazem os cortes e vendem os troncos. Ele não precisa de ter qualquer trabalho, é esperar sentado e receber capital a cada dez anos. "É preciso muita força de vontade para fazer outra coisa. Ainda mais que a população aqui é envelhecida, ou então mora longe. O que é que esta gente há de fazer?"

Em junho, a Navigator anunciou um programa especial para os proprietários dos terrenos em Monchique. Pagava 500 euros por hectare para replantar de forma eficiente os terrenos que não atingiam a melhor produtividade. "Esses fundos já quase se esgotaram", diz Emílio Vidigal, "mas contamos que na próxima semana a empresa de celuloses estabeleça um programa de apoios para continuarmos a produção."

Passaram 15 anos desde um fogo que deu cabo de tudo e agora veio outro, que o povo diz ter sido ateado pela ganância. O presidente da Câmara de Monchique, Rui André, diz que esta é uma oportunidade única para inverter os erros do passado. Fala de uma série de projetos com árvores autóctones, diz que o sobro e o medronho são futuro para o seu concelho.

Ao fim da tarde do dia em que o fogo foi dominado, quando se preparava para levar novamente as cabras para o curral, José Casimiro, o pastor, levantou o cajado em despedida e atirou toda a sua sabedoria para os ares. "Queira Deus vocês não tenham de vir cá outra vez daqui a dez anos para contar a mesma história." Deu meia volta e rumou com as chibas para casa.