23 Jan 2020

55. Climate Change and Pollution

No this is not a photo of a bush fire in Australia.
Just a glorious red sky one recent winter evening from my back garden.

Some time ago, I hoped that, with a bit of luck, the much-vaunted climate change might somehow benefit us on the Island. No such luck! Since then the factors I described have become a bit more extreme here: we’ve had very little rain for a very long time, almost a year in fact, and the thermometer and hygrometer have gone crazy. Like most other places, according to the news. What hasn’t changed is our freedom from pollution.

In this we are indeed fortunate. We have no polluting industry. In 2019 just over 50% of our electricity was generated by five windmills. Our three towns are little more than large villages, in which, even if most families own more than one vehicle, you would have to put your nose to the exhaust pipe of a car in order to smell traffic fumes. The burnt-out bulldozers and other heavy machinery that used to rot beside roads and civil engineering sites seem to have disappeared. Spent fridges, fused and outdated electronics, paper, plastic and glass are collected and separated at collection points. The sea around us is surprisingly clean, presumably because the Cold Canary Current does not hug the European coast. The only pollution I can think of is the use of phytosanitary products in the intensive production of bananas and pineapples around Frontera. Even this has been reduced drastically in the last few years and to notice it you would have to live in a greenhouse.

Like most modern European societies, we export our carbon footprint. Most things we consume, including the very unecological batteries of our electric cars, are produced elsewhere. So is the fuel for our diesel and petrol vehicles. And until we are fortunate enough to have a wind-propelled transport system to the island, we continue to use planes and ferries to get here.

So, despite the very real climate change, which on the island we can do very little to mitigate, El Hierro is still an exceptionally good, healthy and eco-friendly place to visit or to live in.

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