Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Politically incorrect: the decadence

My travels today led me through a mountain range in central Portugal. To start with I crossed an area where there were some signs of real forest with sweet chestnut trees and oaks, all in autumn colours. This place was prettier than I had anticipated. How would it be if the whole mountain range was covered in this beautiful forest from which I had observed a little patch? If the mountains were used by people in a non destructive way?... Nature's goods being valued properly by people, for what they are, not as a way to obtain something else (e.g. to make money, attract tourists).

But as I continued, the opposite I found. I started to find the mountain slopes in a horrible condition. The invasive Acacia dealbata bordering the street, Hakea from Australia in the scrublands that resulted from the woodfires. Old burned trees standing around sadly in the abandoned landscapes. Then when I entered the next village I was able not to see the nice idiylic patches, but instead just saw the horrible cold houses that are so uncomfortable that I'd rather die than live in one for an unlimited timespan. Things done carelessly, even flowers planted in ugly old pots. Sick people arguing amongst each other.
I was reminded that there is a rasant decadence. I don't mean decadence as a decline from a golden age, but simply the decadence of the present. And there's clearly no need for horror stories of the apocalyptic crisis to come (which environmentalists love to use as an argument): the here and now is horrible enough to prompt for action.

Soils are bare, meaning is scarce and no one seems to care.

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