We were approached by Peter to ask if we would help promote a proposed eco-holiday complex and permaculture settlement in Portugal. I replied that I didn’t think we could, as I have strong reservations about this kind of eco-hotel development, and explained why. Peter came back with some counter-arguments, and I asked him whether he’d be happy to have this debate in public – he could post around 500 words in favour of the scheme, and I’d do the same, outlining my reservations. That way, he would get exposure for their project (which does indeed involve lots of low-impact materials, design and activities), and I would be able to outline my objections, so that we wouldn’t be accused of supporting something that people see as ultimately unsustainable. I thought that the debate could prove interesting for our readers, who could hear both sides of the argument and make up their own minds.
Peter was a good sport, and agreed, and so you can see both of our arguments below. I think it’s a very interesting debate, and one that can continue in the comments section below – and of course, you can join in too. I genuinely don’t know whose side people will take, so it will be very interesting to find out. Before we start, I’d like to say that I think Peter is a good guy trying to do the right thing, and so hopefully, we won’t fall out. So first, over to Peter.
Peter’s proposal for an eco-hotel complex and settlement
As someone who is very conscious of the damage we humans are doing to this wonderful planet I am always looking for ways of reducing not only my own carbon footprint with better life style choices, but also seeking ways and means to minimise the overall impact our healthy living hotel development will have on the environment. We are still in the final detailed planning phase and able to modify our plans if more beneficial processes become available.
A brief outline of methods we intend to take to potentially make this the greenest, the healthiest, the most sustainable, the lowest impact as well as the most eco friendly and user friendly hotel in the Algarve or anywhere else in the world, tall order I know but have every confidence we can do it.
Hempcrete will be the cornerstone of this low impact hotel construction which will give us a head start in our ambitious plan to be the greenest on the planet, this will be a 100% carbon negative footprint, a wide range of other carbon neutral benefits will be outlined on a web page linked below.
A smart low tech building design will minimise electric and plumbing pipework runs, low voltage lighting all round, heat pumps to heat the water and maybe for some air-con if required, the hotel infrastructure is maximum two storey build though mainly single storey in blocks of two or four with detached and semi detached units close by.
The hotel will be situated in a beautiful river valley with panoramic unspoilt views all round, also is located in the middle of a nature reserve and even better on a permaculture farm that will be able to supply all organic produce for the kitchens, same day fresh, no air miles involved, no fossil fuels either.
As a low impact developer we will be offering like minded people first opportunity to become members of the hotel club which will be providing low impact, low cost, high value, healthy living holidays in this perpetually sunny area in southern Europe.
Another opportunity we will be making available is a fractional shareholder offer for individuals who may have dreamt of buying land, creating their own permaculture farm and living the good life, planning to build a home there, trying to market their produce in competition with others at the local market, then on reflection realise that this is such a daunting prospect that it will forever remain a dream or goal beyond reach.
However, Ta da, here comes the cavalry with a low cost easy and painless solution, up to 25% of this fantastic project will be up for grabs for permies, greenies and all low impact, sustainable living, non materialistic, eco friendly, off grid and nature loving individuals and even better no marketing required as all produce will be allocated to the adjacent hotel enterprise.
Sure, the hotel will be more sustainable than most (and probably all) others on the Algarve – but the problems surrounding this project go deeper than that for me.
Coincidentally, we recently blogged an article about another foray into Portugal by Brits, and my reservations about the hotel I think can be best illustrated by comparing that project to this one. The article is here, and it involves a UK co-operative bringing olive oil from small farmers in Portugal by sailboat. Below are the differences:
1. Portuguese farmers: the Sailboat Project is helping Portuguese small farmers by finding customers for them in the UK, and paying them up front. In contrast, the hotel project is pushing up land prices for Portuguese farmers. I know that many northern Europeans are buying up land in Portugal for holiday homes, for resorts or for sustainable settlements. All these projects will cause the same problems.
2. Fossil fuels: each Sailboat Project trip transports 3000 litres of olive oil by sail, and that’s 3000 litres that won’t have to be delivered using fossil fuels, so it will reduce fossil fuel use overall. In contrast, the hotel project will encourage hundreds, perhaps thousands of individual flights per year, but will make people feel that this is OK because the resort itself is low-impact. Even for Brits who will end up living there, I can’t believe that they won’t fly to the UK regularly, and have their friends and family fly out to visit them regularly too. Flying is one of the most environmentally-damaging things that people can do, and if, as the UN say, the global population is going to peak at over 11 billion, then if we want to survive, we have to stop flying. That means all of us, unless we want an even more elitist world where a tiny minority can fly, but the rest can’t. 11 billion people all flying regularly would be suicidal.
3. Co-operatives vs investments: the Sailboat Project is a co-operative, and therefore part of the ‘Solidarity economy’, in which no-one makes money from anyone else’s work. In contrast, the hotel project is asking for conventional investments, which will increase the wealth of people with capital, and give them greater control over the business – rather than those who do the work. In fact that wealth will ultimately be extracted from the people who do the work (where else?). This is the most difficult of the three arguments to comprehend, but we support, and would like to help develop the Solidarity economy, including co-operatives, community land trusts, self-employment, ‘commons’ (Wikipedia and free/open source software , community energy, community-supported agriculture, credit unions and more) – structures that are non-hierarchical and non-extractive (money stays in communities and with people who do the work, rather than being extracted from both by investors).
Yes, this is better than the usual Algarve holiday, but why not set up a co-operative venture in the UK? I’m a member of the Ecological Land Co-operative, who are helping people do just that.
What do you think?
The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact.org's
1Mike Eaton January 14th, 2018
As is usual with these type of arguments there are two sides and neither side is all good or all bad. On the plus side of the deal it must be realised that we are now entering a period when manu people realise that we are using up the planets resources faster than the planet can make them (I’ll not go into types at the moment) however whilst we realise this there are many views as to what the human race is destroying and how this destruction can be prevented. One of the main problems to my mind is the fact that these differences of opinion cover all aspects and walks of life even down to individual memebers of the same family. The aguments strtch far into the night and sadly in the end nothing gets done. One of the reasons nothing gets done is that neither side of the argument finds a way to convince the other side that their way is right. On the negative side (but negative to who?) the majority of Northern Europeans (in this case the British) head south for their fortnight in the sun! Of course they fly there and fly back using other means of transport powered by even more fossil fuels to shorten the journey to ensure that maximum time doing nothing but frying you body and spending money like it’s going out of fashion is carried out. But what of the ‘permaculture’ oriented people who do not wish to do this? They either join a ‘collective’ or whatever one wihes to call it and go head first into permaculture forsaking all others. . . . . . . the rest of the family can either ‘go hang’ or join in as they think fit, but we won’t be going home again – that’s your ‘X’ box or whatever out of the window! But what happens if after all this we find that we just can’t “do it” (there are many reasons not just the inability to “hack it”, a lot of that being family. Just How do you return to something you’ve given up on?
OK now this is where the “hotel” comes in, during the first visit you wander around, ask questions, get involved (as little or as much as you wish), go visit the local town, go to the funfair (occasionally), attend short lectures and workshops on ‘permaculture’ and your life in the future should you go that way. No pressure at any time.
So in the future what do you do? Book for more extensive courses at ‘the hotel’ or forget the whole thing “it’s not for us!” At least you’ve tried. Frankly it is for the Hotel Staff (including the permaculture farm and other alternate enegy people etc.) to convince you it is the only way – if they truly believe in this they will, if they don’t why are they there? Moving on from there the progression into full time permaculturist will be at your (and your families) own speed. It may even be possible to link the initial hotel complex into a local land co-operative with various possibilities to reduce flying / transport times and retain family groups in the initial stages of forming a small holding with a view to eventually moving on the better suited places back here in the UK. Additionally when it is time to move on I’m sure that the ‘hotel’ can and will recommend further places and associated schools such as the Ecological Land Co-operative, why not it works both ways (I’ll not go into that).
Returning to the oft mentioned Sailboat Project – it must be realised that because this oil is carried between two points PRIMARILY by sail alone and the oil is loaded/discharged by hand it must be pointed out that at times engine power (fossil fuel) will be required, inclement weather being often the main problem, you cannot sit off the port, at anchor, awaiting favourable winds to either get in or away down channel or wherever to pick up your cargo. If you sit there too long your cargo can “go off” that’s a waste of good oil already paid for (I don’t think your producers will be too happy if you go back to them and tell them you’ve had to ditch your cargo because it was bad – that’s a seasons hard work for nothing). Additionally the oil must of course be delivered to the quay for shipment and then transported from the quay at the other end – both of those these days require fossil fuel to operate the vehicles, or will a dankey and trap be utilised? So yes sail transport will reduce the carbon footprint but by how much? This must be seen in the light of the use of the “permaculture hotel” – will it be a gimmick as David seems to think (if not controlled properly I’m sure it will) or will it become a useful tool in the hands of those trying to convert people to a sustainable and permacultural way of life? To my mind we have little choice – we use any tool we can or the whole planet dies in the attempt.
2lin scrannage January 14th, 2018
Sorry Peter, your project looks really beautiful and you have put so much work into trying to make it as low impact as possible, but for me it is the impact of the people who can afford to go on holidays abroad and think that by choosing an ‘eco ‘holiday that they are somehow not causing an effect on the environment that worries me. Also, as Dave pointed out, incomers to an area who are in a position to buy land (which they may not be able to afford in their own country) be they entrepeneurs or tourists, will always skew the local economy, pushing up prices for the indiginous groups who are forced to migrate away to find work or cheaper housing. When I was younger I simply did not think about the consequences of my actions and the impact it may have on others.
One question – will the fractional shareholders you hope to encourage to live out there be local Portugese or from countries where it is a dream for people to live the ‘good life’ but cannot afford to eg UK ?
The state of the world today and the fragility of the whole global ecosystem is at crisis point – we have to start taking individual responsibility for all our choices.Our climate may already be at the point where it is impossible to halt catastrophic weather events – I cannot see how ecotourism will do anything but more harm.
3Dave Darby January 14th, 2018
1. I’m not against the hotel or permaculture principles – just the fact that it’s in a geographical location that will require the burning of large amounts of aviation fuel.
2. the producers of the olive oil in Portugal get paid up front. It’s then up to the Sailboat Project to sell the oil before it goes off, which they have no problem doing.
3. the delivery of olive oil or any other product to port is via truck / fossil fuel, whichever method of sea transport is used. The movement of the oil from Portugal to the UK is via sail / wind, therefore reducing the amount of fossil fuels used for this particular cargo.
4peter January 14th, 2018
First I would like to give Dave a big thank you for allowing me the opportunity to bring this eco friendly project to the attention of the low impact community on this blog, also apologies for delay in commenting was offline for a while
so herewith with hopefully a fair rebuttal of the arguments put forward by Dave some more later
Firstly we have a unique set of circumstances at torvec which will enable our development to be on target as the greenest in the world
1. our own underground fresh water resource located at the low end of a very good catchment area
2. the ability to grow most of our own construction materials (Hemp ), the other main ingredient Lime is sourced in Portugal
3. no air miles involved in our food supply chain in fact we will have freshly picked produce from 200 yards away
4. most sunshine holiday makers are going to fly anyway so we are not adding in that respect and if our holidays are set at a lower cost level they can stay over extra time so less travel involved in their overall annual holiday plans
5. as Mike mentioned about co-ops our shareholder scheme is basically a co-op in disguise and will allow more people to take up permaculture farming and being able to live a low impact lifestyle at this fantastic location
6. sustainability through our own solar energy farm and storage with back up wind turbine, so no fossil fuel energy required on this site
finally in this first response will have to take issue with Dave regarding investors, the type of investment we are looking for would be from committed greenie’s living and working on site and not so much as a for profit scheme every one will be a winner in this project so no fat cats allowed
unfortunately I can’t bring this sunny location to the UK so will just have to create the lowest impact holiday destination where it is and give our clients the best value for money which ever way you slice and dice it
5Mike Eaton January 14th, 2018
So Dave what you are saying is that if an alternative means of transport between the UK and Portugal were to be used then you would little or no objection to the ‘hotel’ as the idea stands? As a matter of interest there is an alternative route by ferry to and from Santander, thence by road to the ‘hotel’! the only thing that worries me is the fact that fossil fuel is still being used both by the ferry and the buses/trains – so what’s it to be diesoil or kerosene? (I believe the diesoil is in fact slightly more expensive due to the process used).
As for the Sailing boat/vessel transport of olive oil between Portugal and the UK, I only used this to show that no matter what the transport costs a certain amount of fossil fuel shall probably be used both by the road and sea transport! As a matter of interest concerning this sail / wind transport at some time I’m sure the anchor is going to be used, how do you propose they raise it? By hand?
6Dave Darby January 14th, 2018
1. people staying at the hotel will fly
2. the Sail Boat project get olive oil to me using less fossil fuel
7Mike Eaton January 14th, 2018
Dave, in reverse order – exactly! Which at the moment is what I’m sure we all want.
but your note 1 – rather a sweeping statement that, I wonder how they would travel if the ‘air miles’ usage was explained to them? What if Peter arranged an all up low fossil fuel and low carbon footprint deal where the people going to the hotel get picked up in the UK, taken to the ferry, couple of nights on the ferry transport to the hotel, a week in the hotel (or ten days might be better) carrying out the activities as mentioned above then a return using the same route! What an adventure holiday that would be!
8lombadas January 14th, 2018
in answer to lin
addressing the issue of land pricing impact on local population, I have been a long time owner of this Quinta/Farm over 25 years now and only recent changes to the Nature Reserve boundaries have opened up this opportunity to create a unique eco friendly complex
as this is a distinct one off it no way effects any local property acquisitions and will not have any effect on house prices in the area
the fractional ownership scheme is aimed at Brits mainly, locals already have many opportunities to set up farming enterprises on similar land nearby, Portugal has a similar land mass as the UK but only a 15th of the population
9lombadas January 14th, 2018
Hi Mike I will give your overland over sea route some thought might be
some future potential there
anyone wondering who lombadas is, its my log in name
10Dave Darby January 14th, 2018
Most of your points are about the sustainability of your project, which I have no problem with at all (although I guess your main aim with this post is to promote your project, rather than to counter my points – which is fine).
The main problem for me is the geographical location, and none of your points address my reservations – i.e. pushing up land prices for Portuguese farmers, and the burning of huge amounts of aviation fuel.
‘most sunshine holiday makers are going to fly anyway’ doesn’t cut it for me at all. There’s such a sense of entitlement there. We’re headed for a global population of 11 billion people, and if your ‘sunshine holiday makers’ can fly, why shouldn’t 11 billion people be able to fly – as often as they like? If not, that would be extremely elitist, don’t you agree? But the problem with 11 billion people wanting to fly once or twice a year is that it will make us extinct. Even at today’s levels, with a relatively small but growing fraction of the world’s 7 billion people able to fly regularly, the damage to nature is immense. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the US (actually quite an establishment / conservative organisation) tells us that we’re headed for ‘biological annihilation’, unless we change direction really quickly. We’re showing no signs of changing direction, and biodiversity loss is accelerating. We’re in serious trouble. I’d be very happy with this project if was by and for Portuguese people, or if it was in the UK, for Brits. The environmental benefits of your project, impressive though they are, will be negated and reversed several times over by the amount of air travel it will generate.
The fact that your holidays are cheaper will mean that people will fly more, not less, surely?
And people who settle there will almost definitely fly back home regularly to see family, and fly family out to see them. The fact that some Brits will live there will increase air miles even more.
Another factor is that it will attract greenies who might be on the cusp of giving up flying, by persuading them that it’s ok, because this is a low-impact project. I’ve listened to people who consider themselves ‘green’ tie themselves in knots trying to justify flying on holiday. I find it quite selfish and entitled. It doesn’t wash at all – nothing else they do in their lives will counteract the effect of a long-haul flight or several short-haul flights per year. I’d rather they just did it unashamedly, but didn’t try to call themselves ‘green’. Happily, I’m also meeting and talking with a lot more people who see the damage, and have given up flying. I hope that trend continues – we just don’t need to do it. You would help the cause of sustainability much more if you set something up in the UK and tried to persuade people to fly less or not fly at all.
Finally – what do you mean by ‘a co-op in disguise’. What is it, why is it in disguise, and if you want a co-op, why isn’t it a co-op?
11Dave Darby January 14th, 2018
Here’s an idea – why don’t you only accept visitors who don’t fly? In fact, you could talk with the Sailboat Project about the possibility of sailing visitors there. What an adventure that would be – plus it would provide more income for a fantastic, sustainable, co-operative project. They could sail people to Portugal and bring olive oil back.
12Dave Darby January 14th, 2018
Peter – there’s a rush of northern Europeans buying up land in cheaper parts of Europe – mainly Eastern Europe, but also Portugal. A lot of them are ‘green’ projects or communities, but that makes no difference to the locals, as land becomes more scarce and more expensive. They just can’t compete with the money that Dutch, German, British and Scandinavian people have. I’ve talked with Bulgarians who grew up near the Black Sea, and can’t afford to live anywhere near their home villages any more. In fact. you don’t have to go that far – you can see the same effect with Londoners buying holiday homes in Cornwall. There may be specific circumstances that reduce the impact of your project, but it will be just another example for other people to follow.
13Dave Darby January 14th, 2018
Lin: ‘the impact of the people who can afford to go on holidays abroad and think that by choosing an ‘eco ‘holiday that they are somehow not causing an effect on the environment’ – nails it.
14Mike Eaton January 14th, 2018
Please feel free to use it Peter, within reason and carefully thought out I do believe it has a lot of potential. The only thing I would show caution with is the sea leg using ‘sailing vessel’ as Dave suggests above – that could easily play havoc with any kind of scheduling used especially as the Western Coast of France, Spain and Portugal can get a little “interesting” during certain times of the year!
15lombadas January 14th, 2018
I will come back on the points you raise in an hour or so as mealtime beckons
16lombadas January 14th, 2018
dave I am quite prepared to accept anyone however they arrive but
would not be viable operation with the level of people arriving by that method
17lombadas January 14th, 2018
a quick further thought on that method of travel as they could sail right up to our river border
without touching land anywhere
18John Harrison - Allotment Gardening January 14th, 2018
Just a couple of points.
First, I really don’t see this attracting people who are concerned enough by the environment not to fly away for a few weeks in the sun. So the additional impact on the environment by flying out will be minimal and most likely outweighed by the other green measures used in the project. So pragmatically it’s a positive move.
Second, it’s taking capital from the richer north to the south and hopefully there will be some benefits to the local economy. I take Dave’s points regarding the disparity of wealth and northerners buying up the south. Bit like Londoners selling their tiny flat and buying half of Yorkshire with the proceeds.
All in all, I think it sounds a really good idea. Which is entirely the opposite of what I expected to think when I read the post email.
19Peter Green January 14th, 2018
“The hotel will be situated in a beautiful river valley with panoramic unspoilt views all round”
Unspoilt until this is built..?
20lombadas January 14th, 2018
john, thanks for your conditional endorsement, I should make it clear we are not trying to
change the way individuals approach this contentious subject, just that those who already take
vacations abroad mainly by plane, would be able to do so at a destination that will have
probably the lowest carbon footprint on the planet thereby offsetting some of the angst felt by
them for undertaking such a trip
21lombadas January 14th, 2018
Hi mike, regarding this mode of transport unfortunately I don’t think
they would get there and back in half a day for £50 plus hire car for £20 for a week
plus the extra week or more traveling would not leave much time for holidaying
22Mike Eaton January 14th, 2018
Peter – not a hope, it takes two days from Plymouth to Santander by ferry for a start and that’s a fairly big vessel running to a tight schedule, about a day from the South of england to the Ferry port, Santander to you has got to be another day at least! So five days going, five days coming back and some time on the farm/hotel – yep a great adventure as it is, but what an adventure? So the next time you head down to the hotel for a prolonged stay you go a more conventional way with a view to spending a fair amount of time actually on the ‘farm’. I see the initial trip more in line with convincing the “don’t want to play” family members with a bit of everything! If you go back you are probably a lot more “sustainable” minded, burning all that ‘avgas’ is now a means to an end not just part of the holiday because everybody flies don’t they? But hey tis your game, may not work may just! Think out of the box for a ‘different’ type of holiday that is part of an ecological adventure! Mind you as it stands it’s going to be fairly expensive, but hey that’s no problem is it? You can fix that!
23Chris Gander January 14th, 2018
On another tack (pun intended Mike!) will you be growing the hemp? Absolutely love it if you do! Where will the lime/cement come from? The comments about the traveling and air miles etc are an issue. But wouldn’t it be fantastic if the sea option were taken up!!
Mind you, I also think that the alternative economy ideas on this website are great as well, but then I’m not a realist really!! (just kidding Dave). But how do we change things unless we try and change things. A pebble can start a landslide.
24Dave Darby January 14th, 2018
You made three points in your post – one I agree with and the other two – well, I believe the exact opposite is true for both of them.
1. ‘First, I really don’t see this attracting people who are concerned enough by the environment not to fly away for a few weeks in the sun.’
Exactly. People who fly away for 2 weeks in the sun are not concerned by the environment, regardless of what they say. Actions speak louder than words.
2. ‘the additional impact on the environment by flying out will be minimal and most likely outweighed by the other green measures used in the project.’
In the early days of Lowimpact, we did an eco-footprint ‘audit’ for staff at the National Energy Foundation. They’d been given a detailed questionnaire which generated an eco-footprint. Like most people in the UK, most came out with footprints of around 3 planets – which means that we’d need 3 planets for everyone to live like them. This isn’t possible, of course, and attempting to do it will mean disaster for humanity. Nevertheless, we are still going down that path.
But one person had a footprint of less than one planet. We delved into her questionnaire to find that she was the only person who didn’t fly. If we want eco-footprints of less than one planet, which is essential for our survival, we can’t fly.
Flying absolutetely wipes out and reverses any gains from the facilities at the hotel – and if the visitors truly were greenies, they’d be getting their food from local, organic sources, and their energy from renewables back in the UK anyway.
3. ‘hopefully there will be some benefits to the local economy’
Peter has already said that they’ll be producing all their own food, and all the entertainment they need is on-site. Yes, there could be some money for taxi drivers and shops if people make local excursions – but, like most foreign developments like this, most profit will be for the investors. And there will be many more developments like this in Portugal – which will only mean that it will be much more difficult for small farmers to survive, and they’ll go down the same path as Poland and Romania – Western developers have bought up all the land, and the number of farms has plummeted, as large monoculture agribusiness hoovers up all the land. It’s the exact opposite of what should be happening in rural areas throughout Europe.
Ultimately, Peter seems to be saying that humans can live in harmony with the biosphere, but still continue to fly (even though the population is headed towards 11 million). In his heart, he must know that’s not true, but everyone overlooks it because they think they’re absolutely entitled to fly for 2 weeks in the sun, regardless of the environmental consequences. There are over a billion Indians and a billion Chinese who are now starting to think exactly the same way. That, in a nutshell is why, if I’m really honest, I don’t think humans are going to be around much longer.
25Dave Darby January 14th, 2018
In the 10 years between 2000 and 2010, the number of farms in Portugal fell by over 25%, and the number of people working in agriculture by a third.
The situation is probably a lot worse now.
26Dave Darby January 14th, 2018
Peter – Portugal doesn’t have a similar land mass to the UK. It’s around one third the size of the UK.
27lombadas January 14th, 2018
hi chris I did mention in a previous post the following
2. the ability to grow most of our own construction materials (Hemp ), the other main ingredient Lime is sourced in Portugal
28lombadas January 14th, 2018
Quote (The main problem for me is the geographical location, and none of your points address my reservations – i.e. pushing up land prices for Portuguese farmers, and the burning of huge amounts of aviation fuel.)
Hi dave unfortunately I can’t change the location it is what it is,
as for pushing up land prices to the detriment of the local farmers I think you will find the boot on the other foot, just try buying some land off one of them and you will start conjuring up thoughts of robber barons, believe me I have had first hand encounters with them
can’t do anything about the fuel burn however the more people on the plane the less the individual burden
regarding the National Academy of Sciences of the US, I suggest you ask them to define the operation for weather modification such as the HAARP program, High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program an ionosphere research program that is founded by the US military or better still their observations on chemtrails which are also modifying the weather as well as poisoning the water course’s as well people in the vicinity, I could go into the ozone layer controversy but I won’t or I will be up all night
just because AL Gore says the climate is going to get hotter and melt all the glaciers and sea levels will rise etc. does not mean to say it will come about as there is just as much if not more chance of an upcoming ice age which if it happens you will wish you were snug and cosy inside one of my foot thick hemp walled eco lodges in a sunnier area of the world
( The fact that your holidays are cheaper will mean that people will fly more, not less, surely? )
I think I mentioned before that I would anticipate and encourage our clients to vacation for longer periods at a time, lesser journeys, to help alleviate the cost of getting there in the first place
( And people who settle there will almost definitely fly back home regularly to see family, and fly family out to see them. The fact that some Brits will live there will increase air miles even more. )
I am going to say as a family man this type of activity is entirely normal and should be encouraged the stronger the family ties the less problems in the world
( You would help the cause of sustainability much more if you set something up in the UK and tried to persuade people to fly less or not fly at all. )
dave there isn’t a hope in hell I would be able to do in the UK what I will be doing in this beautiful sunny location and anyway I will be one of the first if not the first to take up long term residence there looking for a longer happier healthier life, stress free, worry free, peace and tranquillity in abundance plus all that beautiful fresh clean air and pure water and loads of sunshine unlike the cold and misery in the UK soaking into your bones
( what do you mean by ‘a co-op in disguise’. What is it, why is it in disguise, and if you want a co-op, why isn’t it a co-op? )
OK so it will actually be a shareholding as such for a few lucky individuals who basically get to live there no cost free and clear as part of the shareholding scheme, so the co-op part come from the shareholders participating living and working on the permaculture farm as a sort of collective or community, basically co-operating with each other for the mutual benefit of the whole so while not actually a co-op per se is in effect the same as
not sure have answered all the points but as many as possible
29Mike Eaton January 14th, 2018
Looking at some of the comments I wonder if realism is necessary? Seems according to some we’re all doomed anyway! So for me tis time to tkae off the bonnet and sling my hammock and settle down for the night, g’night all, we’ll see what the morrow brings No more night watches for me I’m afraid but tis worth a dream! Yes Chris a pebble can indeed cause a landslide so lets get casting pebbles, for all our sakes.
30John Harrison - Allotment Gardening January 14th, 2018
I think you’re underestimating the ability of people to rationalise – they’ll drive to the airport in their new electric car feeling oh so green because their clothes are fair trade and supporting a little man in Nepal. Of course they shouldn’t be flying – but if flying is so bad how come Ryanair will get me there for a tenner?
The population peak – between 9 & 10.2 billion seems to be the best guess – can be coped with if the richest take a living standard cut and the poorest stay where they are… except that’s not going to happen and there are credible threats like climate change and topsoil depletion to our food supply.
We (the human race) are like the man who fell off the Empire State building. As he passed the 30th floor he was heard to say “So far, so good.”
You are, I’m sure, right in your impact analysis of flying. However, is it not better they go to a low impact destination?
31Dave Darby January 14th, 2018
Sure John, except that it’s a bit like eating organic food on the Titanic.
(UN median global population prediction is over 11 billion – https://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/Graphs/Probabilistic/POP/TOT/ – but even if it were 9 billion, if people insist that they absolutely need to fly, then I don’t see any way out of our predicament).
32Dave Darby January 14th, 2018
I was too polite to say that.
33John Harrison - Allotment Gardening January 14th, 2018
The figures have got worse than when I last looked into it ?
I think we can all agree the system is a mess – it can be cheaper to fly internally in the UK than take a train. Whatever, people don’t want to give up on their breaks in the sun, latest iphone etc etc. Why should I sacrifice my holiday when millions don’t and anyway the Chinese are building new coal fired power stations..
Going way off piste, (see – I can speak southern!) – I think that a big part of the problem is that economics don’t reflect environmental cost. People talk about decommissioning costs on nuclear power plants but not on iphones or TVs or cars. I’m not worried for myself, I’ll most likely be gone when the smelly stuff hits the fan. I’m terrified at the world my grandson will inherit.
34John Harrison - Allotment Gardening January 14th, 2018
“The hotel will be situated in a beautiful river valley with panoramic unspoilt views all round” Unspoilt until this is built..?” – not all buildings are detrimental.
35Dave Darby January 14th, 2018
They’re striking a hard bargain because they know you’re from a country where the median wage is much higher than theirs. What do you think this will do to the ability of Portuguese people to buy land?
You may not be able to do anything about the amount of fuel burnt, but this is the reason I have a problem with this project.
I don’t know what you’re saying about climate change there Peter, but I’ll just stick to what peer-reviewed science is saying.
When you say you’re encouraging visitors to stay longer, and travel less often – less often than what? How often were you thinking that they might fly over, and how often if they stay longer?
‘I am going to say as a family man this type of activity is entirely normal and should be encouraged the stronger the family ties the less problems in the world’
– Yes, and if your project were in the UK, people wouldn’t have to fly to see family – which is precisely why I have a problem with this project.
‘looking for a longer happier healthier life, stress free, worry free, peace and tranquillity in abundance plus all that beautiful fresh clean air and pure water and loads of sunshine unlike the cold and misery in the UK soaking into your bones’
– Peter, you’re writing my replies for me. This kind of entitlement is another reason I oppose the project. And you will, as you’ve mentioned, fly back the UK regularly to see family. These kinds of projects will spring up in many parts of the world, full of privileged northern Europeans and North Americans, seeking the sun and burning lots of aviation fuel. It wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t try to put a ‘sustainable’ label on it too.
If it’s not a registered co-op with sustainability written into its constitution, this project is not guaranteed to stay sustainable, and it won’t be non-hierarchical / democratic either. Shares could be traded to the point that given time, control is in the hands of people who just want to make money out of it. Why not a registered co-op? Why just lip service to co-operation?
36Dave Darby January 14th, 2018
I don’t have kids for this very reason. Kids of friends and family – I really worry for them. I can’t see any way that we’ll avoid a horrible situation.
37Dave Darby January 14th, 2018
Subjective, so can’t really debate it. Some people prefer cityscapes, for example. I think most buildings do spoil ‘panoramic unspoilt views’. So few places on earth without roads or buildings.
38peter January 14th, 2018
first of all we will be designing accommodation that fits in with the natural landscape with as little impact as possible, furthermore to be able to enjoy the full benefit of this beautiful river valley location you need to be there to do so, nature is already there and enjoying life to the full so I am not going to apologise for living in harmony with her it’s a bit like saying “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, nothing changes the situation and if you read my web page you would see that we intend to “as custodians of this beautiful un spoilt river valley farm land, The Odeleite River Valley Eco Centre will work closely with Reserva Ecológica Nacional and Natura 2000 network to manage the local biological system and wildlife habitat not just for the benefit of the local flora and fauna and all wildlife in general but also for the benefit of the human interaction within this localised ecosystem whilst at all times respecting the laws of nature and the natural world.”
39peter January 15th, 2018
dave if the dark forces that actually run the world get their way we could end
up with a world population of half a billion, problem solved as long as they have
enough workers to keep them in luxury and grab even more trillions from the chaos
40Dani January 15th, 2018
Fascinating post and arguments.
It seems to boil down to….do we offer greener alternatives (eco hotel vs regular hotel) knowing that it’s better but not good enough?
If we do support overseas eco hotels, will there be less environmental damage or more (compared to current trends*). Less damage than normal* if the people visiting are those that go overseas anyway and are just changing their destination hotel. More damage than normal* if the people visiting are those that might not normally fly for overseas holidays. I fear for this project (which sounds spectacular on site) it will tempt more of the on-the-fence travellers.
* normal/current trends = terribly destructive
If we don’t support overseas eco hotels, will there be less environmental damage or more (compared to current trends*). Less damage than normal* if those on-the-fence or conscious travellers can be convinced to holiday locally. More damage than normal* if the people visiting are holidaymakers who go to regular hotels if not aware of eco accommodation options.
Do we think the visitors are on-the-fence/somewhat green, or regular holidaymakers?
Either way, do we support things that make it a little better but not “better enough”? Do we support having one child or no children? Do we support electric cars or no cars? etc.
Do we go hard line or softly slowly? We need hard line but softly slowly seems to be all most people respond to ?
41Dave Darby January 15th, 2018
I think projects like these exist to cleanse consciences. It’s not the worst by a long way – I really have been told that ‘your visitors can help protect the environment by flying to Peru for a month to learn about permaculture’ – as if there are no permaculture courses in the UK.
I feel the same way (and have had similar arguments on this blog) about B-corporations – green(washed), fluffy, caring (but extractive and wealth-concentrating) corporations that pretend to have the values of co-operatives, but without actually being co-operatives, as that would curtail their owners’ ability to get rich from them. You can see their billionaire owners on YouTube, telling the world how equitable their companies are – it’s sickening.
These kinds of developments are a bit like painting the Titanic green. People aren’t really ready to face what’s coming, and maybe they won’t be until it’s too late.
Towards the end of this century we will be heading for 11 billion people, most of them believing that it is their god-given right to fly. Unless we start to challenge that assumption now, we haven’t got much hope.
I believe that if Peter really cared about what’s happening to the biosphere, he’d have set up something in the UK, and part of his agenda would be to educate people about the damage caused by flying. When I suggested that above, he made it clear that there’s no way he would have considered that, because he wants the sunshine and unspoilt (for now) landscape of Portugal. That’s his priority, I think.
42peter January 15th, 2018
dave, there are a lot of factors that could make this 11 billion humans on the planet
possibility a redundant statistic, recent studies on cell phone radiation suggests that
male and even more worrying female infertility is taking it’s toll and that’s without the
increased risk we will be getting when 5G is fully rolled out
link to the study
43John Harrison - Allotment Gardening January 15th, 2018
Oh come on, Peter – linking to daft clickbait sites… unless you’re just joking.
Going back to the discussion in hand, whilst it would be better if we didn’t fly around the planet it’s a bit like trying to control population by preaching abstinence. Maybe contraception is more effective. Sorry to compare your project to a condom! ?
44peter January 15th, 2018
Hi John, definitely not click bait, this site is a serious
commentator on the many problems caused by cell
45Dave Darby January 15th, 2018
Off-topic now, but Peter, if you think that’s a serious site, I’m beginning to see why you can’t see the problems associated with flying. I do have some magic beans for sale if you’re interested though.
See http://skepdic.com/emf.html, and actually, put that site in your bookmarks. Skepticism is very, very healthy.
Am I right in my interpretation of one of your posts above – that you’re a climate change denier?
46Dave Darby January 15th, 2018
Not sure about the analogy John. I know plenty of people who don’t fly. My friend Cath is at the moment sailing across the Atlantic to study the co-operative movement in the US. Dani travelled overland to Australia to be with her partner and set up an environmental education centre. My friend David cycled to Jerusalem and back – and so did I, which is why I didn’t believe him when he first told me. When I lived at Redfield community, we had many nomadic visitors come through who were travelling the world overland. You don’t have to ‘abstain’ from anything. In my experience, people who don’t fly often live more interesting and fulfilling lives than people who do. And mass tourism ruins everywhere. First, backpackers discover an unspoilt place, and a few years later it’s got an airport and it’s covered in tarmac and concrete. Someone said to me the other day ‘you have to go to Cuba before it’s ruined’. I said ‘ruined by what?’ and the answer was, more-or-less ‘by people going to Cuba’. You couldn’t make it up.
47Mike Eaton January 15th, 2018
Love it John – “You are, I’m sure, right in your impact analysis of flying. However, is it not better they go to a low impact destination?” I’m sure a low Impact destination would be better as a high impact one would make an awful mess of the runway, the plane and the passengers! Nice to see some entertainment in all things – even the semi serious stuff!
48Mike Eaton January 15th, 2018
I believe that if Peter really cared about what’s happening to the biosphere, he’d have set up something in the UK, and part of his agenda would be to educate people about the damage caused by flying.
Presumably so that you pop down there every other week and lecture all in sundry about how airyplanes is bad and what you stand for is good? Do I detect some self interest in this? And you one of the “good guys” how sad!
49peter January 15th, 2018
have never ever said I am a climate change denier, for obvious reasons
climate changes whatever we humans do or not do it’s call a natural cycle
as to being gullible by not accepting the propaganda put out by vested
interests I do plead guilty
Apple has issued a safety warning in every iPhone user manual – but, they
deceptively printed it in tiny print and located it in a section where no one will see it.
who is the gullible one ?
( google this ) cell phone manufacturers put in warning about radiation
If you want to rubbish some more of my sceptical world views here is a good
one to get your teeth into ( 911 was an inside job) there I have shown my true
colours because you can get that debunked by going to popular mechanics
and the government never lie do they
(Iraq has weapons of mass destruction could be used in 45 minutes )
several million dead and displaced since
you will be telling me next that Monsanto is a benevolent company promoting
healthy eating for the poor and starving masses
50Sophie Paterson January 15th, 2018
On the cleansing of consciences front, I just came across a gem of a video on YouTube – https://youtu.be/hhJjq6qodT0 – which illustrates your and Lin’s points so very well, not to mention the wider issue of so-called green/eco-consumerism per se. Scary stuff.
51Dave Darby January 15th, 2018
Still hugely off-topic, but there’s a big difference between arguments that can be settled via peer-reviewed science and those that can’t.
I certainly won’t be telling you anything good about Monsanto, or that governments don’t lie. But in today’s world it’s hard enough trying to point out that power is economic rather than political, or that perpetual growth on a finite planet is impossible (although it’s happily becoming less so) without the hindrance of being bracketed with ideas that have absolutely no peer-reviewed evidence to back them up – like homeopathy, chemtrails or electro-sensitivity; or that climate change today is ‘part of a natural cycle’ rather than anthropogenic. It just makes everything that bit harder, as it makes scientifically-literate people very wary.
I can’t think of anything else to say about the overall sustainability of a project that involves the burning of huge amounts of aviation fuel year-on-year, that I haven’t already said above.
52Dave Darby January 15th, 2018
I thought it was a spoof at first, and quite a good one. You’ve killed a bit of my soul.
53John Harrison - Allotment Gardening January 15th, 2018
Whoa – please let’s keep the discussion friendly. I spent much of my working life in aggressive, competitive environments and that’s the last thing I want nowadays. Incidentally, you don’t have to go abroad to waste huge amounts of aviation fuel. We live between Caernarfon airport and Snowdon. Every day in the summer the helicopters fly over on their way to rescue idiots who decided to walk up Snowdon in trainers or high heels. Then every Thursday the RAF scream over in fast jets (just in case ISIS invade Carmel or take over the Llyn).
Happily I don’t need to worry about my mobile making me sterile – I lost the charger 6 months ago.
54peter January 15th, 2018
dave please tell me why your peer-reviewed science
is better than my peer-reviewed science, you say these theories
aren’t backed up by hard evidence then all I can say is you are not
looking in the right places or don’t want to look and find out the
some times unpalatable truth that does not resonate with your
55peter January 15th, 2018
( I lost the charger 6 months ago.)
the best thing that could have happened john
never have mine on except emergencies or for contact while overseas
56John Harrison - Allotment Gardening January 15th, 2018
You’re dead right Peter – you can’t get Dave to listen to the truth. I keep telling him the world is a flat disc but he insists it’s a big ball. Keeps drivelling on about gravity which is fake news. ?
57Dave Darby January 16th, 2018
John – unfriendly? Was it the magic beans? No worse than your flat earth quip, surely? I’m certainly not coming from an unfriendly place – just a bit frustrated that this little experiment didn’t work too well – we’re well off topic, and we’ve drifted somewhere quite bizarre.
As our raison d’etre is the fact that the biosphere is degrading, which is based on what peer-reviewed ecologists are saying, I have to be very careful to make sure that all our topics have a solid basis in science, which means that I’ve upset people who just can’t or won’t understand why our topics don’t include dowsing, energy healing or ‘free energy’ devices. I’m keen for these ideas not to become associated with political or economic alternatives, as it makes it that much more difficult to be taken seriously (it’s difficult enough as it is).
I’ve been planning to write a detailed article on what peer-review means and how people can find out what really carries weight. Obviously, an article about homeopathy in a homeopathy journal, peer-reviewed by homeopaths is not a credible source. And even flat-earthers point to what they claim is solid science to back up their theories. But for more serious research, you have to look at what percentage of scientists in the field endorse the research, how respected they are in their field, and who funded the research etc.
Visitors don’t seem to like the debate format anyway (v few shares), so we’ll stick to the ‘how to’ type of article in future. But also, we won’t be promoting non-cooperative land projects in locations that require lots of air travel, and where the locals have far less money than the incomers. That doesn’t work for me at all. I just hoped that the discussion might have been a bit more interesting.
Good luck Peter – seriously. I said I didn’t want us to fall out and I hope we haven’t. I’ll tell myself that your visitors would have gone to Florida otherwise, and wish you success. It’s just not for us.
58John Harrison - Allotment Gardening January 16th, 2018
I felt a bit of hostility was creeping in to the discussion.
Being serious, I highly respect your opinions – especially when we disagree. You’ve changed my mind on some things over the last years, which is great.
It came as a surprise to me to find that professional journalists seem to have lost the ability to fact check – just see what the first result on Google is and go with that – so false information becomes accepted fact. I’ve even had a mistake I made on my website used as information by a seed supplier! Happily a gardener let me know I’d posted incorrectly. So an article on checking the truth of claims would be a great idea.
Don’t judge the quality of your posts by shares – stick to your guns even if not popular.
And finally, all the best discussions wander off topic. It’s a social interaction between disparate people and sometimes an off topic lightens things and avoids conflict.
59Dave Darby January 16th, 2018
Yes, the internet has a lot to answer for in that respect, although apparently, Wikipedia is one of the most reliable sources of information there is – I guess because it’s monitored by so many people, with so many different opinions, only the incontrovertible gets through. It gives short shrift to pseudoscience too.
Definitely going to stick to my guns though (although I’ll change my mind instantly when presented with convincing evidence) – it’s just that the debate format doesn’t seem popular, and as you say, hostility can creep in. May as well present the content in a format that people prefer.
60Dave Darby January 18th, 2018
PS just realised that after seeing comments of Facebook, the low number of shares of this post is not down to the format, it’s because people don’t want to promote the hotel project.
61Mike Eaton January 19th, 2018
Interesting Dave, perhaps ypu have a different version of Facebook than I have but as far as I can see there is one comment on this thread – that was totally neutral (I know I wrote it) and from this you appear to have reasoned that people don’t want to promote the hotel project? To my mind more a lack of interest one way or another? Or possibly something else not related to the hotel but very much related to these debates?
62Dave Darby January 19th, 2018
We’re involved in various FB groups, personal profiles, messaging etc.
63Stephen Mogridge June 27th, 2018
Hi all, interesting debate.
Just as an add on. I like to think that it is possible to create a visitor centre (mix of holiday/ retreat/ educational courses) anywhere in Europe with the notion that most visitors will be from the host country.
This is our experience after 7 years running our Ecofarm in Asturias. As time moves on we build more and stronger local links.
Regarding foreigners buying land and driving local land prices up, perhaps it is best to look at the local context. Much of rural Spain and Portugal has experienced crippling outward migration particularly of younger working age people. There are local, regional, national and EU level policies to reverse this trend. Currently in Asturias any new investment, ideas for sustainable projects etc, if they bring work to the area and help the local rural economy, then great.
Our experience is that local people are extremely supportive and indeed want more peple to come.
Our local village is 50% empty, much of the surrounding top quality agricultural land is just grazed because no one is here to work it. This is an area in Spain where we have higher rainfall than Wales but loads of sunshine too – green spain, yet it is half empty and in 20 years without serious inward migration there won’t be sufficient rural pop to justify local services like schools and health centres.
Come to Asturias. You will be most welcome. I am sure the same is true for much of rural Portugal.
Good luck Peter – keep it local.
64David Calver August 11th, 2019
Hi David and Peter. I’ve been communicating with Peter recently about his Portugal project. Has been very interesting to think through a number of opportunities and issues with it. I’ve pointed him in the direction of recent reports about the achievements and pitfalls of the Lammas project in Wales, which struck me as having some similarities but without the amount of air travel, assuming most residents or visitors to Lammas are local or at least travelling overland from other parts of the UK. I see many common objectives shared by you and Peter (and myself). I’m undecided about whether the “target customer” segment for the portuguese project would reduce their emissions overall (by going to this portuguese site rather than some other european destination they would otherwise have flown to). That does seem a weak argument, but is nevertheless potentially a positive contribution to reducing global emissions. It would be a better argument if all external visitors – and residents tripping back to other countries to see families- were required to buy carbon offsets (although the effectiveness of carbon offsetting is a whole new tangient!). I’m attracted to the idea of trying to influence the “mainstream” rather than relying on appealing to the “already converted” genuine greens. It’s only when the mainstream changes its behaviours that we’ll get the transition we need to a sustainable future that is also socially just rather than only a future for the rich able to “afford” to be sustainable, with the rest perishing. And if the mainstream want to salve their consciences by visiting an eco-hotel rather than a less eco one a few miles away, that’s a start in moving them in a new direction, surely? As you can probably tell, I’m not even convinced on this point myself, and my main advice would be the same as David’s; keep it local – and I’d add targeting local people as potential visitors / residents, and focus on those who can influence globally with minimal personal footprints.