The introduction of coal mining in the 1940’s transformed the landscape and economy of As Pontes, Spain. Industrialisation created successive waves of economic and population booms, but when the mining slowed in the 1990s, the region experienced economic depression. Real and perceived social divisions and environmental abuses on the part of the mining company remained entrenched in people’s memories. This paper provides an overview of the factors that likely affected community acceptance of the new pit lake in As Pontes, Spain. Pit lakes are often attractive closure options for companies, and community opinion of pit lakes can influence pit end use. Community perceptions of the pit lake before, during, and after filling were assessed using case studies, interviews, and focus groups, and by tracking news events and analysing internet forums. The results broadly indicated high community acceptance of the pit lake by people residing in the town. However, interviews revealed that acceptance of the pit lake was influenced by previous experiences with the mining company; company employees and local politicians were more likely to be positive about the benefits of the lake, whereas those not directly affiliated with the lake (long-term residents, remote villagers, school teachers) were more likely to have a negative view of it. Thus, technical success is not the only factor that influences community acceptance of pit lakes and company closure plans. Unresolved social issues can also influence the way certain people perceive the new landscape, regardless of ecological and aesthetic impacts.
Landscape value corresponds to an attachment or emotional bond that people develop with places. There are strong cultural ties to landscapes and feelings for the visual beauty of mountains, lakes, coasts, forests, etc., which are a common bond among people or social groups of a given region. Arguments related to landscape values are commonly heard in Europe from opponents to the construction of wind farms for example. Landscape values may also be important for the tourism industry and landscapes can therefore be managed as a key component of tourism infrastructure.
Landscape value often has an association with environmental and natural resource values. The values that people appreciate in a landscape may often also be important ecologically. Landscape values can be divided into use and non-value, the former of which provides tangible benefits (such as economic value through, for instance, tourism, or recreation value) and the latter of which provides spiritual, identity or ecological value.
For further reading
Penning-Rowsell, E. C. (1981) Fluctuating fortunes in gauging landscape value. Progress in human geography, 5(1), 25-41.
Zografos, C., & Mart, J. (2009). The politics of landscape value: a case study of wind farm conflict in rural Catalonia. Environment and Planning A, 41(7), 1726-1744.
This glossary entry is based on contributions by Julien Francois Gerber
EJOLT glossary editors: Hali Healy, Sylvia Lorek and Beatriz Rodríguez-Labajos
For decades, families had little choice but to use kerosene. Now they’re swapping solar electricity.
- Original source:
Ten households in Shakimali Matborkandi, a village in the Shariatpur district of Bangladesh, have seen a dramatic change over the past year in the way they light their homes and charge their mobile phones.
For decades, these families had little choice but to use kerosene, the most popular fuel in tens of millions of homes in the developing world. But in September 2015, a Bangladeshi company, ME SOLshare, introduced them to what it calls “swarm electrification”.
In a fresh twist on the sharing economy popularized by Uber and Airbnb, ME SOLshare’s pilot project enables the residents of Shakimali Matborkandi to trade electricity among themselves, free of any contact with a local utility.
Bangladesh is the world leader in the number of installed solar home systems, which makes them a natural testing ground for rural peer-to-peer electricity trading. Image: ME SOLshare
More than four million homes in Bangladesh are already equipped with solar panels. But, starting with the Shakimali Matborkandi pilot project, ME SOLshare aims to go a step further. With the help of a black box called a SOLbox and a mobile phone connected to the largest mobile banking network in the country called bKash, each family can buy solar electricity from their neighbours when they need it, and sell when they have a surplus.
If anyone on the grid needs electricity, they add credit to their mobile wallet, switch their SOLbox to ‘buy’ mode, and trade the credit for power. Similarly, those who have excess power, or simply want to make some extra money, set the box to ‘sell’ mode. They can then use the credit on their mobile wallet to buy products at any local store.
Electrical engineer from UBOMUS installs a solar home system. Image: ME SOLshare
This system, known as peer-to-peer electricity trading on a nanogrid, is already making inroads in some industrial countries, such as the Netherlands, New Zealand, Germany and the US. But its introduction to Bangladesh could revolutionize the use of electricity in impoverished and remote communities that up to now have never known any source of power apart from kerosene and batteries.
What’s more, in countries prone to armed conflict and natural disasters, such as Bangladesh, where floods affected 3.2 million people and damaged over 250,000 homes this past summer, swarm electrification can keep the lights on even if there is extensive damage to the utility power grid.
Sebastian Groh, ME SOLshare’s managing director, said in an interview that the technology inspires a new way of thinking. “It inspires entrepreneurship. You are not just focused on your needs.” He added that “people are encouraged to use energy efficient appliances and the latest LED lights to reduce consumption” so that they can sell surplus power to their neighbors.
Groh came up with the term “swarm electrification” because, he said, “in a swarm of fish, there is no central intelligence and the fish work together to create unity.” He added that, “if a shark attacks a swarm, it may take out one or two fish, but the rest keep on swimming.”
SOLshare SOLbox Video. Video: Me SOLshare/YouTube
Another advantage of the technology is the low cost and reduced environmental impact. In rural Bangladesh, the average household spends $2 USD a month on kerosene for lighting but, as Nasir Uddin, executive director of Bangladesh-based nonprofit UBOMUS, one of the leading installers of solar home systems in the country, put it: “You can’t charge your mobile phone with kerosene.”
The SOLbox itself costs $30, which consumers pay in installments over 24-36 months. After that, they own the box. Mr. Uddin said: “There are thousands of places in remote Bangladesh where this kind of project may be implemented.”
He added that for the same cost as kerosene, the SOLbox enables consumers to have access to bright, clean lighting, and they can also charge their mobile devices.
In Bangladesh, about 20,000 new solar systems are installed each month. According to Groh, ME SOLshare plans to install another 200 SOLboxes by February 2017.
Beneficiary from Shakimali Matborkandi village stands next to her new SOLbox. Image: ME SOLshare
The potential of swarm electricity extends far beyond Bangladesh. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), more than 6 million solar home systems are in operation worldwide, and their cost has dropped by over 80 percent since 2010. As prices continue to drop, the number of solar home systems will continue to rise, with the Climate Change Group estimating that five million solar homesystems will be sold in India alone between 2014 and 2018.
The challenge that the technology faces in reaching this wider market will be in finding the right sites. For efficiency reasons, the nanogrid uses direct current as opposed to alternating current, which means the lines carrying the electricity cannot extend far without significant energy loss. Only areas with high population density are candidates for this technology. Bangladesh makes a perfect guinea pig with a population of over 160 million people squeezed into an area roughly the size of New York state.
ME SOLshare’s technology won the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Momentum for Change award this year. According to Nawal Al Hosany, an expert on energy innovation and a member of the UNFCCC award advisory panel, ME SOLshare’s technology “could make secure, sustainable and healthy energy access a reality to many millions of people across the globe who currently live day-to-day without it.”
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Most abandoned buildings, plants and areas appeared in the Soviet Russia (’70-’80) because they belonged to the “state” (meaning nobody) and afterwards (’90) as a result of the economic crisis. But each place has its own story (in which I, to be honest, do not have much interest).
I think we are all not indifferent to abandoned things. The Abandoned have some sort of a strong and complicated connection with our souls; some people get scared and try to escape their impressions, some fight with them and try to destroy or rebuild or just leave their own footprint on the abandoned site to prove that they’re stronger than this world. And some do not try to do anything – they just look and listen to the Abandoned, enjoying those impressions, feeling the real meaning of time. I am one of them.
FROM THE JULY–AUGUST 2017 ISSUE
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Public sentiment about globalization has taken a sharp turn. The election of Donald Trump, Brexit, and the rise of ultra-right parties in Europe are all signs of growing popular displeasure with the free movement of trade, capital, people, and information. Even among business leaders, doubts about the benefits of global interconnectedness surfaced during the 2008 financial meltdown and haven’t fully receded.
In “Globalization in the Age of Trump,” Pankaj Ghemawat, a professor of global strategy at NYU’s Stern School and at IESE Business School, acknowledges these shifts. But he predicts that their impact will be limited, in large part because the world was never as “flat” as many thought.
“The contrast between the mixed-to-positive data on actual international flows and the sharply negative swing in the discourse about globalization may be rooted, ironically, in the tendency of even experienced executives to greatly overestimate the intensity of international business flows,” writes Ghemawat. Moreover, his research suggests that public policy leaders “tend to underestimate the potential gains from increased globalization and to overestimate its harmful consequences.”
The once-popular vision of a globally integrated enterprise operating in a virtually borderless world has lost its hold, weakened not just by politics but by the realities of doing business in very different markets with very different dynamics and rules. Now is the time for business and political leaders to find a balance—encouraging policies that generate global prosperity at a level that democratic societies can accept.
Energy is the only universal currency; it is necessary for getting anything done. The conversion of energy on Earth ranges from terra-forming forces of plate tectonics to cumulative erosive effects of raindrops. Life on Earth depends on the photosynthetic conversion of solar energy into plant biomass. Humans have come to rely on many more energy flows—ranging from fossil fuels to photovoltaic generation of electricity—for their civilized existence. In this monumental history, Vaclav Smil provides a comprehensive account of how energy has shaped society, from pre-agricultural foraging societies through today’s fossil fuel–driven civilization.
Humans are the only species that can systematically harness energies outside their bodies, using the power of their intellect and an enormous variety of artifacts—from the simplest tools to internal combustion engines and nuclear reactors. The epochal transition to fossil fuels affected everything: agriculture, industry, transportation, weapons, communication, economics, urbanization, quality of life, politics, and the environment. Smil describes humanity’s energy eras in panoramic and interdisciplinary fashion, offering readers a magisterial overview. This book is an extensively updated and expanded version of Smil’s Energy in World History (1994). Smil has incorporated an enormous amount of new material, reflecting the dramatic developments in energy studies over the last two decades and his own research over that time.