When you like to stay in abandoned places in Portugal and do walks with your cat, you need to observe the sky for possible threats to your pet. This encounter with a flock of eagles, most probably Bonelli’s eagles, happened during a late afternoon walk at the Barragem de Odelouca in Algarve, Portugal.

This is the cat that I successfully protected from the birds of prey:

Update: I met two rangers the day after that encounter and told them about the birds. They said these birds were vultures. I looked it up and the only vulture in Portugal is Rüppell’s vulture. These animals are even bigger than Bonelli’s eagle, but less dangerous for cats, because they feed on carrion.

I think much of democracy, consensus, personal freedom, individual rights, principle equality before the law, separation of powers, freedom of information, open society and a free education system. In my opinion, self-responsibility and responsibility for the environment is based on that. Our Western society seems to be well advanced in this aspect, if there were not something else that exists parallel to it, which drives the whole liberal, democratic and egalitarian construct to absurdity.

In capitalist enterprises, which almost all people depend on to maintain their existence, there is only little democracy, no consensus, little personal freedom and rights, no principle equality, no separation of powers and no freedom of information. As long as entrepreneurs, landlords and money lenders accumulate capital at the expense of their fellow human beings, as long as there is a systemic, increasing material inequality that results in not all being equal and having an equal impact on the decision-making of a society, the whole talk about democracy is more or less pointless.

There are two basic ways to deal with this contradiction. Either we ensure that material inequality decreases, so that the actual influence of all people on the decision making of society does increase. Or we can abolish democracy and reintroduce a monarchy or oligarchy. For the few people, who have tremendous power because of their material wealth, creating a social consensus through mass media is a painstaking obstacle, useful only as long as the vast majority of the non-rich are convinced of living in a real democracy.

My goal in our transition to an alternative life is to live in a model community where there is more material equality. Only in this way, from my point of view, can the contradiction that we experience in our Western societies be dissolved and real democracy established. In search of such a model community, we recently arrived at an eco-farm whose founders blatantly stated that they give a damn about democratic decisions and consensus, that they are unwilling to divest some of their land ownership to us to produce material equality, and that they rely on “natural authority” regarding decision-making in the group.

Sylvia wanted to give the community the chance to get to know it better, because their participants were very sympathetic. However, I am extremely glad that we have come to the consensus that such a project makes no sense if only one of us is backing it.

Portugal is awaiting anxiously the arrival of yet another big storm. Exactly one year ago, a similar hurricane in the Coimbra region, where we spent two months at the eco-farm Quinta Cabeca do Mato, led to a fierce forest fire that claimed 44 lives. This time the storm seems to turn north.

The Mediterranean region is a hotspot of climate change. The impact is much higher here than in other regions, even in Europe. A temperature-rise between 4 and 7 degrees is expected by the end of the 21st century. The Alentejo, the province we are in right now, will most likely become a desert. Already, the extreme drought is not only measurable, but also clearly visible.

According to satellite images, we are standing with our truck in the middle of a reservoir. But the water in the lake is now, at the end of summer, 10 meters below the highest level. The gras covered shorelines prove that the lake was not filled completely for years.

The abandoned farms show that in many places agriculture is no longer profitable due to the lack of water.

Climate change is, next to the danger of a nuclear war, the most important subject of our epoch, for the whole of humanity. What I do not understand, what I cannot get into my head, is the fact that an incredible number of people behave as if they were not involved in this phenomenon. As if the global weather change took place in another dimension. As if somehow everything well be fine, without having to change ones life and behaviour significantly. Actually, I have a pretty good idea, why people act thus schizophrenic, but that’s another story, which you can follow on http://www.karstenmontag.de.

However, the climate politics of the most important polluters, the industrialized countries of Europe and North America, is currently failing completely. It is time to finally remove the incompetent politicians who regularly buckle from the power of economic interests. If that fails, one can always change ones own culture, and already live the way we will be in the not-too-distant future.

On our way to Monte Estrafego, an eco-farm run by a German couple in the province of Alentejo, we found a very calm and nice place at a reservoir. A good opportunity to do some maintenance work. I had to re-tension the v-belts and to grease the bearings of the leaf springs, the drive shafts, the front axle-joints and the back axle.

I was a bit nervous, because I never tilted the driver’s cab before. But after understanding how to unlock the cabin and to use the built-in jack, it was actually quite easy. I like this truck. It’s so tough and the technology is so easy to understand, though the fuel consumption is breathtaking. The ground clearance is big enough to get under it without jacking it up. A car for real men, who like to run around unshaven and dusty.