Time to get angry!

For years, the degradation of the land due to human neglect has been plain for all to see. The warning calls of experts, researchers, scientists have been in vain. Even hundreds of deaths, now indeed thousands, have not been able to stir our consciences, and above all those of our political representatives. Everything is subordinated to profit, while it is left to volunteers and their groups to carry out “good deeds”. We believe the outer limits of mystification and disinformation have now been reached.

The inconsistent behaviour of powerful politicians makes the senseless behaviour of individuals understandable. If a minister acts irresponsibly in relation to the environment, why should a local official be any more careful? And so we get endless new roundabouts and link roads, and to hell with the works needed for waterways and forestry to protect the soil. Landslides and landslips, flooding, hail storms with stones the size of walnuts, cloudbursts, temperatures reaching and surpassing 40 degrees (and with increasing frequency 50), destructive winds… all these are regarded as “isolated incidents” rather than the result of an economic system and neglect that are no longer tolerable. No longer tolerable, that is, not for Nature, which will always be able to defend itself, but for us humans, who will be brought down by our own stupidity.

Until now this section of the Newsletter has been dedicated to Experiences: positive examples that we can study, adapt, and copy. From now on it will be called “Time to get angry!” and will set out what is going wrong, with concrete examples.

Let’s start with the case of Edoardo Tranquilli.

Edoardo is a young farmer and beekeeper who lives in Rome, one of the few remaining in the city. He carries on this activity, as his family has for 6 generations, despite the fact that it provides only a modest income.

Around 10 years ago, part of his land was compulsorily purchased when viale Enzo Ferrari was being built. So far so good: the road was for everyone, and so the piece of land was taken for the good of everyone. A powerful businessman from the area, who was a prominent supporter of the project, was richly compensated. The road was built and we could say the story ends here, with everyone satisfied.

Unfortunately this is not the case. The land around the road was never put back into the state it should have been but was left in a dreadful condition: uneven, full of potholes, scattered with builders’ rubbish, not fenced off, open to allcomers. For 10 years our beekeeper has been exposed to thefts, fly tipping, and so on. So for 10 years, Edoardo has had to cope not only with soil sealing and speculation, but also with insecurity and land degradation. Every day he has to collect waste he has not produced, with no prospect of improvement in the situation. Now the final blow: he has established that his land is becoming polluted.  At this point urgent public action is needed to clean up and secure the area, work that should have been done before the road was even opened …

This example illustrates the serious conceptual lack inherent in the execution of so-called public works. In absolute terms the land is a good that must be protected and preserved. We cannot leave the burden of protecting and conserving it on the shoulders of the weakest, such as individual farmers. Nor can we continue to hope that politicians or administrators will step up to change the comatose state which prevails in relation to the land. It is up to us to get angry and to take action. Only if we do this for “small problems” like the one described above can we tackle large ones, like the Morandi Bridge in Genoa that collapsed, killing 43, not to mention the landslides, the flooding, the land slips that are happening all the time, and not just in Italy.