Monthly Archives: Outubro 2005

O Erro da Ota

Ota, é preciso coragem para reconhecer o erro

por: Victor Silva Fernandes*
Publicado em: 08 Ago 2005 @ 10:44 pm

A decisão do governo em reiniciar o processo de construção do Novo Aeroporto de Lisboa (NAL) na Ota, tem pelo menos, o condão de trazer a sociedade civil à discussão, não só da sua pertinência e do seu timming, como, ao reequacionamento da questão da sua localização.

A importância estratégica do novo aeroporto de Lisboa, deverá ser apreciada à luz de uma definição global do transporte aéreo e das infra-estruturas de comunicação terrestre e marítima e o governo deveria aproveitar este tempo para, em conjunto com os seus parceiros sociais e com as associações profissionais, traçar um rumo com vista à definição de um quadro global de requisitos estratégicos essenciais à modernização de Portugal. O país não pode continuar a ser “uma manta de retalhos”, governado sem visão estratégica, sucessivamente remendado, ao sabor de interesses sectoriais ou conjunturais.

O Aeroporto de Lisboa tem margem para quase duplicar o número de movimentos, como está mais do que provado e embora sendo defensor da necessidade da construção de um Novo Aeroporto para Lisboa, parece-me que a decisão de o localizar do lado direito do rio Tejo enferma de graves restrições.

É verdade que o aeroporto de Heathrow cabe na área destinada à Ota, mas também não é menos verdade que os Ingleses tiveram que reabrir o aeroporto para voos nocturnos por incapacidade de construção de outra pista!

A opção Ota é, em minha opinião, um erro estratégico e parece-me cada vez mais limitada: a começar pela orografia do terreno e pela mancha urbanística, para não falar dos já existentes e gigantescos depósitos de combustível, que ficarão localizados praticamente no enfiamento das novas pistas; pelos lençóis freáticos que se estendem desde a Vala do Archino a Nordeste e pelas várzeas (Moios e Morraçais), onde correm quase uma dezena de ribeiras, sendo as mais importantes a Vala do Meio, o Rio Ferragudo e o próprio Rio da Ota. Toda esta zona que, calculo, ocupará mais de 1000 ha e onde estava planeada a construção da infra-estrutura aeroportuária fica, nos invernos mais rigorosos, sistematicamente debaixo de um lençol de água.

As questões de engenharia embora parecendo ser um tanto complexas não deverão apresentar grandes dificuldades a uma cada vez mais experiente classe de profissionais com provas dadas em Macau e na Madeira. Parece que a nossa sina é a construção de aeroportos sobre planos líquidos…

A orografia do terreno e a legislação aplicável à construção de novas pistas e aeroportos, tal como vem definida no Anexo 14 da International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), impede a utilização da actual pista 35 pelo que o NAER optou por rodar o eixo das pistas para a direita. A localização de uma segunda pista paralela na Ota, partindo do pressuposto de que a primeira ficaria sensivelmente colocada onde se encontra a pista actual, significaria a construção dos caminhos de circulação e das infra-estruturas atrás citadas assente sobre terrenos humedecidos pelos cursos de água com todas as dificuldades e problemas inerentes aos condicionalismos hidrográficos que são do conhecimento de qualquer engenheiro civil.

É também obrigatório por lei, o estudo dos ventos predominantes para melhor se aquilatar sobre a orientação das pistas. Se bem me lembro o vento sopra predominantemente de quadrantes de Noroeste. Ora, com a rotação das pistas para Nor-nordeste o vento passaria a apresentar-se ainda menos enfiado com as pistas, prejudicando a performance dos aviões com os riscos operacionais acrescidos. O enquadramento orográfico da Base Aérea da Ota permite-nos perceber ainda que, quando a direcção das pistas em uso fosse Norte, (o que deveria acontecer, pelo menos em 75% dos dias do ano) as aeronaves que descolassem com destino aos Açores e às américas, devido à Serra de Montejunto, não poderiam efectuar uma volta imediata pela esquerda – o que seria óptimo para efeitos de escoamento de tráfego – mas teriam que ganhar altitude continuando para Norte ou então circundar o espaço aéreo adestrito ao aeroporto, pela direita – conflituando com o tráfego a chegar da Europa – para depois rumarem a Oeste ou Sudoeste. Para isso, deveriam rumar ainda mais a Sul ganhando altitude, de molde a evitarem o cruzamento do eixo de aproximação final para a pista em uso. Das duas uma, ou cruzavam a Norte da cidade de Lisboa, ou seguiriam ainda mais para Sul, para – já do lado esquerdo do Rio Tejo – poderem rumar para Oeste. Nestas circunstâncias continuaríamos a ter aviões a sobrevoar a cidade de Lisboa, a altitudes relativamente baixas. Por outro lado, para as mesmas pistas, as aproximações dos aviões provenientes do Atlântico, teriam que ser feitas também sobre a cidade de Lisboa – a não ser que as autoridades definissem rotas de aproximação que facilmente se adivinham como um autêntico serpentear entre os espaços aéreos restrictos da Base Aérea do Montijo e respectivas “Deltas”, da Base Aérea de Sintra e respectivas zonas de trabalho e da carreira de tiro de Alcochete.

A nova lei do ruído trouxe ainda outros factores de limitação, sendo que, devido à densidade populacional (que se adensará ainda mais) em toda a zona de implantação do projectado aeroporto da Ota, não vemos condições para que este possa vir a cumprir 24horas de serviço diário. Contrariamente ao que pensam os defensores da Ota, o novo aeroporto não tem que ser construído no meio das regiões mais industrializadas ou de maior densidade populacional. Basta localizá-lo a cerca de meia-hora a quarenta minutos, em zonas desabitadas para se garantir a mais-valia da proximidade desejada. Barajas está a uma hora da cidade de Madrid e, que se saiba, não deixa de ser por isso um dos aeroportos mais movimentados da Europa. Convém, isso sim, dotar o país de vias de comunicação que permitam o acesso rápido e eficiente das pessoas e das empresas àquela infra-estrutura aeroportuária.

Como é sabido, são necessárias diariamente, muitas toneladas de petróleo para garantir a operacionalidade de um aeroporto internacional. Só a possibilidade de se poderem retirar centenas de auto-tanques das estradas portuguesas, através da construção de um oleoduto directamente do porto de Sines para o novo aeroporto, representaria um ganho enorme em segurança rodoviária. Basta olhar para o mapa, para nos apercebermos que a tarefa se tornaria muito mais simplificada, se o novo oleoduto não tiver que ir até à Ota.

E a Rota LISBOA – PORTO? Qual o passageiro que, depois de fazer a viagem de Lisboa de automóvel ou de comboio, para a Ota se vai meter num avião até ao Porto? Acabar-se-ia assim com uma linha aérea de importância vital para a TAP, a SATA e a Portugália e para qualquer companhia aérea que queira explorar “rotas finas” – na medida em que o Porto, por si só, não consegue gerar tráfego suficiente para garantir voos directos para determinados destinos.

Serve a ligação Lisboa-Porto para reduzir as despesas da colocação de aviões naquela base, para a partir daí garantir à cidade do Porto, ligações aéreas que, de outro modo, se tornariam economicamente insuportáveis e prestando-se ao passageiro um melhor serviço, pois não tem que andar com a bagagem às costas de avião para comboio e vice-versa. O Aeroporto Sá Carneiro revelar-se-ia assim de importância estratégica na angariação de passageiros e de carga no norte do país e mesmo da Península Ibérica.

A colocação do NAL, na outra margem do Tejo iria nivelar o Norte e o Sul sem lhes retirar as suas respectivas importâncias regionais, desobstruir os acessos Lisboa-Porto, requalificar estrategicamente Portugal como porta de comunicação para a Península Ibérica e para a Europa, dar novas oportunidades de negócio às companhias aéreas portuguesas (compensando-as do esforço suplementar de realojamento no NAL, o que está ainda por contabilizar), descentralizar a população da grande área de Lisboa, permitir a expansão futura do aeroporto, assim como o seu serviço H24, tornando o negócio aeronáutico mais atractivo às empresas e financiadores estrangeiros, etc.

Não faria muito mais sentido, “aproximar” o NAL de Espanha, marcando com essa medida a intenção de o tornar numa plataforma importantíssima de transferência de pessoas e de carga, simplificando o trajecto dos turistas espanhóis em demanda de destinos que são a nossa vocação para o novo aeroporto, retirando-se a necessidade da travessia do Rio Tejo? E já agora que vamos ter TGV, de que serve um comboio de alta velocidade que não chega a fazer dez minutos em velocidade de cruzeiro, (arranca de Badajoz e em menos de meia-hora já está em Évora, parte de Évora para logo ter que reduzir a velocidade para atravessar a ponte sobre o Tejo…e depois, já não vale a pena acelerar até à Ota, ou será a Lisboa (?) que fica logo ali…)?

Um pouco à laia de conclusão, poderia dizer-se que ao TGV resta-lhe a perspectiva de vir a ganhar alguma mais-valia transformando-se num “feeder” do Novo Aeroporto de Lisboa. Por maioria de razão, a “aproximação” do aeroporto às terras de Espanha, não só, retiraria força estratégica a Madrid e ao desenvolvimento do aeroporto de Badajoz, como permitiria inclusive, o aliciamento dos “nuestros hermanos”, com a oferta de serviços conjugados do TGV com as transportadoras aéreas para destinos de longo curso, como por exemplo, o Brasil. Seria aliás brilhante, a utilização do TGV para potencializar o efeito Star Alliance e de uma vez por todas, tornar a TAP e Lisboa num Hub de distribuição de tráfego para a América Latina e para África. Mas para isso, num contexto de construção de um novo aeroporto, aquele terá que estar (tal como Lisboa) na rota directa do TGV! Geograficamente, isso só é possível com a sua construção na margem esquerda do Tejo!

O país precisa de tempo para pensar no futuro aeroporto de Lisboa. O país precisa de gente capaz de se distanciar dos interesses particulares em favor do interesse público. Gente capaz de ver o “big picture” e que pense na enorme oportunidade de entrosar o transporte aéreo, ferroviário, viário e marítimo como um todo. O NAL, o TGV, os portos de Lisboa e de Sines, têm hoje uma oportunidade de ouro para se conjugarem na criação de um sistema inter-modal de transportes, mas para isso o novo aeroporto e o TGV, têm que se encontrar na margem Sul.

E enquanto se re-equacionam todos estes dados, enquanto se reparam os danos provocados pelo aumento da despesa pública e pelo empobrecimento do Estado, talvez fosse boa ideia pensar-se em entregar o Montijo a um consórcio privado que o apetrecharia de modo a torná-lo numa alternativa viável e que em conjunto com o actual Aeroporto de Lisboa, praticamente duplicariam a actual capacidade de movimentos da Portela. Para o Montijo poder-se-iam desviar as empresas charter e os cargueiros puros. Conheço as restrições do Montijo, o facto de ser uma base da NATO (nada que a negociação não possa resolver), a questão da sua proximidade da Portela, a orientação das pistas, etc. É algo que é tecnicamente possível resolver. O aeroporto de London City está praticamente em cima de Heathrow. O Montijo, permitiria ainda a liberalização da gestão dos aeroportos portugueses, com a abertura aos privados e ao investimento estrangeiro da exploração daquela infra-estrutura aeroportuária com consequentes vantagens competitivas. Permitiria ganhar-se tempo para o estudo de uma localização adequada ao NAL, (porque não Alcochete?) ao mesmo tempo que resolveria os problemas do curto prazo. No dia em que nos mostrarem os estudos que dão a Ota como preferencial e o TGV como fundamental, partiremos para o debate sabendo, ao menos os porquês.

Quem, como nós, voa por essa Europa fora e se apercebe do crescimento que começa, logo aqui às nossas portas, com dois novos e imensos terminais em Barajas, com a decisão de um consórcio totalmente privado, em arrancar com um novo aeroporto, próximo (mas não no meio) de Madrid (Aeroporto Internacional de D. Quijote), da construção de uma nova pista em Barcelona, da abertura de Badajoz ao tráfego civil, não podemos deixar de pensar que os nossos governos têm andado a dormir, embalados pela demagogia de muitos e pelos sonhos irrealizáveis de outros. Talvez esteja na hora de acordar…



*Comandante de A310
Actualizado pela última vez em 08-02-2005 @ 10:58 pm

Agradeço a Victor Silva Fernandes a autorização para re-publicar o seu excelente artigo

Alguma bibliografia de leitura obrigatória sobre este tema

Maquinistas.Org: O mais sistemático repositório de informação sobre este assunto.

A FAVOR:
Portela, Ota e Rio Frio. Novo aeroporto, sim ou não?
por João Moutinho

CONTRA
Será viável o aeroporto da Ota? (.pdf)
por Rui Rodrigues

Ota, é preciso coragem para reconhecer o erro.
por Victor Silva Fernandes

A eminência do desastre técnico e económico. O parâmetro enjeitado e a pedra angular
José Krus Abecasis, Major-General, Força Aérea Portuguesa

Ota inviável
por Antonio C-Pinto

The Hirsch Report. Feb. 2005

O presente relatório, encomendado pelo National Energy Technology Laboratory, organismo dependente do U.S. Department of Energy, foi levado a cabo sob a direcção de Robert L. Hirsch e apresentado em Fevereiro deste ano. O autor esteve em Lisboa no passado mês de Maio, na conferência sobre o Pico da Produção Petrolífera, promovida pela A.S.P.O., onde apresentou algumas das conclusões do agora conhecido e muito procurado Relatório Hirsch. Não deixa de ser curioso verificar como a escassa repercussão do evento nos nossos “meios de comunicação social” é em tudo semelhante ao ostracismo que tem sido votado pelos média norte-americanos ao tema e em particular ao seu explosivo relatório. De facto, a sua previsão sobre os efeitos catastróficos da crise energética na economia e segurança mundiais num horizonte que não ultrapassa o ano de 2025 coincide, ainda que apenas no domínio restrito das energias fósseis, com os quadros previsionais mais amplos de Limits to Growth (The 30-Year Update), de Donella Meadows, Jorgen Randers e Dennis Meadows. A civilização humana pode muito bem ter entrado já em pleno “overshoot”. Veremos no decorrer de 2006-07 se a volatilidade dos mercados energéticos, o provável rebentamento da bolha imobiliária mundial, o número de catástrodes naturais e pandemias, a fome e novos e mais surpreendentes conflitos militares (de que a tensão nuclear no Irão é um péssimo prenúncio) darão infelizmente razão a estes perturbantes cenários. Eu se fosse o Primeiro-Ministro de Portugal olharia para estes avisos com a maior das atenções. Se fosse, buscaria no apoio do próximo Presidente da República a aliança necessária à imposição de um verdadeiro plano de emergência nos domínios da energia, dos transportes, do ordenamento do território, da agricultura e pescas. Tudo o resto viria depois e sobretudo ao serviço destas prioridades. — AC-P

_________________________________________

Peaking Of World Oil Production:Impacts, Mitigation, & Risk Management

Hirsch, Bezdek, and Wendling

Executive Summary

The peaking of world oil production presents the U.S. and the world with an unprecedented risk management problem. As peaking is approached, liquid fuel prices and price volatility will increase dramatically, and, without timely mitigation, the economic, social, and political costs will be unprecedented. Viable mitigation options exist on both the supply and demand sides, but to have substantial impact, they must be initiated more than a decade in advance of peaking.

In 2003, the world consumed just under 80 million barrels per day (MM bpd) of oil. U.S. consumption was almost 20 MM bpd, two-thirds of which was in the transportation sector. The U.S. has a fleet of about 210 million automobiles and light trucks (vans, pick-ups, and SUVs). The average age of U.S. automobiles is nine years. Under normal conditions, replacement of only half the automobile fleet will require 10-15 years. The average age of light trucks is seven years.

Under normal conditions, replacement of one-half of the stock of light trucks will require 9-14 years. While significant improvements in fuel efficiency are possible in automobiles and light trucks, any affordable approach to upgrading will be inherently time-consuming, requiring more than a decade to achieve significant overall fuel efficiency improvement.

Besides further oil exploration, there are commercial options for increasing world oil supply and for the production of substitute liquid fuels: 1) Improved Oil Recovery (IOR) can marginally increase production from existing reservoirs; one of the largest of the IOR opportunities is Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), which can help moderate oil production declines from reservoirs that are past their peak production: 2) Heavy oil / oil sands represents a large resource of lower grade oils, now primarily produced in Canada and Venezuela; those resources are capable of significant production increases;. 3) Coal liquefaction is a well established technique for producing clean substitute fuels from the world’s abundant coal reserves; and finally, 4) Clean substitute fuels can be produced from remotely located natural gas, but exploitation must compete with the world’s growing demand for liquefied natural gas. However, world-scale contributions from these options will require 10-20 years of accelerated effort.

Dealing with world oil production peaking will be extremely complex, involve literally trillions of dollars and require many years of intense effort. To explore these complexities, three alternative mitigation scenarios were analyzed:

Scenario I assumed that action is not initiated until peaking occurs.

Scenario II assumed that action is initiated 10 years before peaking.

Scenario III assumed action is initiated 20 years before peaking.

For this analysis estimates of the possible contributions of each mitigation option were developed, based on an assumed crash program rate of implementation.

Our approach was simplified in order to provide transparency and promote understanding. Our estimates are approximate, but the mitigation envelope that results is believed to be directionally indicative of the realities of such an enormous undertaking. The inescapable conclusion is that more than a decade will be required for the collective contributions to produce results that significantly impact world supply and demand for liquid fuels.

Important observations and conclusions from this study are as follows:

1. When world oil peaking will occur is not known with certainty. A fundamental problem in predicting oil peaking is the poor quality of and possible political biases in world oil reserves data. Some experts believe peaking may occur soon. This study indicates that “soon” is within 20 years.

2. The problems associated with world oil production peaking will not be temporary, and past “energy crisis” experience will provide relatively little guidance. The challenge of oil peaking deserves immediate, serious attention, if risks are to be fully understood and mitigation begun on a timely basis.

3. Oil peaking will create a severe liquid fuels problem for the transportation sector, not an “energy crisis” in the usual sense that term has been used.

4. Peaking will result in dramatically higher oil prices, which will cause protracted economic hardship in the United States and the world. However, the problems are not insoluble. Timely, aggressive mitigation initiatives addressing both the supply and the demand sides of the issue will be required.

5. In the developed nations, the problems will be especially serious. In the developing nations peaking problems have the potential to be much worse.

6. Mitigation will require a minimum of a decade of intense, expensive effort, because the scale of liquid fuels mitigation is inherently extremely large.

7. While greater end-use efficiency is essential, increased efficiency alone will be neither sufficient nor timely enough to solve the problem. Production of large amounts of substitute liquid fuels will be required. A number of commercial or near-commercial substitute fuel production technologies are currently available for deployment, so the production of vast amounts of substitute liquid fuels is feasible with existing technology.

8. Intervention by governments will be required, because the economic and social implications of oil peaking would otherwise be chaotic. The experiences of the 1970s and 1980s offer important guides as to government actions that are desirable and those that are undesirable, but the process will not be easy.

Mitigating the peaking of world conventional oil production presents a classic risk management problem:

Mitigation initiated earlier than required may turn out to be premature, if peaking is long delayed.

If peaking is imminent, failure to initiate timely mitigation could be extremely damaging.

Prudent risk management requires the planning and implementation of mitigation well before peaking. Early mitigation will almost certainly be less expensive than delayed mitigation. A unique aspect of the world oil peaking problem is that its timing is uncertain, because of inadequate and potentially biased reserves data from elsewhere around the world. In addition, the onset of peaking may be obscured by the volatile nature of oil prices. Since the potential economic impact of peaking is immense and the uncertainties relating to all facets of the problem are large, detailed quantitative studies to address the uncertainties and to explore mitigation strategies are a critical need.

The purpose of this analysis was to identify the critical issues surrounding the occurrence and mitigation of world oil production peaking. We simplified many of the complexities in an effort to provide a transparent analysis. Nevertheless, our study is neither simple nor brief. We recognize that when oil prices escalate dramatically, there will be demand and economic impacts that will alter our simplified assumptions. Consideration of those feedbacks will be a daunting task but one that should be undertaken.

Our study required that we make a number of assumptions and estimates. We well recognize that in-depth analyses may yield different numbers. Nevertheless, this analysis clearly demonstrates that the key to mitigation of world oil production peaking will be the construction a large number of substitute fuel production facilities, coupled to significant increases in transportation fuel efficiency. The time required to mitigate world oil production peaking is measured on a decade time-scale. Related production facility size is large and capital intensive. How and when governments decide to address these challenges is yet to be determined.

Our focus on existing commercial and near-commercial mitigation technologies illustrates that a number of technologies are currently ready for immediate and extensive implementation. Our analysis was not meant to be limiting. We believe that future research will provide additional mitigation options, some possibly superior to those we considered. Indeed, it would be appropriate to greatly accelerate public and private oil peaking mitigation research. However, the reader must recognize that doing the research required to bring new technologies to commercial readiness takes time under the best of circumstances. Thereafter, more than a decade of intense implementation will be required for world scale impact, because of the inherently large scale of world oil consumption.

In summary, the problem of the peaking of world conventional oil production is unlike any yet faced by modern industrial society. The challenges and uncertainties need to be much better understood. Technologies exist to mitigate the problem. Timely, aggressive risk management will be essential.

complete report PDF

More on Peaking of Oil Production: The Energy Bulletin

_________________________________________

Robert L. Hirsch

Biographical notes

July 2004

Dr. Robert L. Hirsch is a Senior Energy Program Advisor at SAIC. His past positions include Senior Energy Analyst at RAND; Executive Advisor to the President of Advanced Power Technologies, Inc.; Vice President, Washington Office, Electric Power Research Institute; Vice President and Manager of Research, ARCO Oil and Gas Company; Chief Executive Officer of ARCO Power Technologies, a company that he founded; Manager, Baytown Research and Development Division and General Manager, Exploratory Research, Exxon Research and Engineering Company; Assistant Administrator for Solar, Geothermal, and Advanced Energy Systems (Presidential Appointment), and Director, Division of Magnetic Fusion Energy Research, U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration. During the 1970s, he ran the US fusion energy program, including initiation of the Tokamak fusion test reactor.

He has served on numerous advisory committees, including the DOE Energy Research Advisory Board. He has been a member of several National Research Council (NRC) committees, including Fuels To Drive Our Future and the 1979 and recent NRC hydrogen studies. He was chairman of the NRC Committee to Examine the Research Needs of the Advanced Extraction and Process Technology Program (Oil & gas). He is immediate past chairman of the Board on Energy and Environmental Systems and is a National Associate of the National Academies.

Estado de emergência

As perspectivas económicas de médio e longo prazo são tudo menos animadoras para o modelo de vida que serve de base à esmagadora maioria dos discursos políticos actuais. Do CDS ao Bloco de Esquerda, passando pelo PCP e pelos partidos do bloco central, tudo o que ouvimos sobre a ideologia do progresso e da melhoria das condições de vida obedece ao pressuposto de que continuaremos a dispor de petróleo e gás natural baratos. Ora isto não vai acontecer! Muito pelo contrário, num prazo que não irá além de 15 a 20 anos, nada impedirá uma crise sem precedentes na economia mundial, cujos efeitos de longo prazo podemos imaginar como uma tremenda desconstrução da sociedade capitalista e tecnológica global tal como a conhecemos hoje. O texto que aqui trazemos, publicado pela revista Rolling Stone online, é um elucidativo manifesto sobre a distopia que nos espera. Segue-se uma entrevista com o seu autor, James Howard Kunstler. — AC-P

The Long Emergency

What’s going to happen as we start running out of cheap gas to guzzle?

By JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER

A few weeks ago, the price of oil ratcheted above fifty-five dollars a barrel, which is about twenty dollars a barrel more than a year ago. The next day, the oil story was buried on page six of the New York Times business section. Apparently, the price of oil is not considered significant news, even when it goes up five bucks a barrel in the span of ten days. That same day, the stock market shot up more than a hundred points because, CNN said, government data showed no signs of inflation. Note to clueless nation: Call planet Earth.
Carl Jung, one of the fathers of psychology, famously remarked that “people cannot stand too much reality.” What you’re about to read may challenge your assumptions about the kind of world we live in, and especially the kind of world into which events are propelling us. We are in for a rough ride through uncharted territory.

It has been very hard for Americans — lost in dark raptures of nonstop infotainment, recreational shopping and compulsive motoring — to make sense of the gathering forces that will fundamentally alter the terms of everyday life in our technological society. Even after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, America is still sleepwalking into the future. I call this coming time the Long Emergency.

Most immediately we face the end of the cheap-fossil-fuel era. It is no exaggeration to state that reliable supplies of cheap oil and natural gas underlie everything we identify as the necessities of modern life — not to mention all of its comforts and luxuries: central heating, air conditioning, cars, airplanes, electric lights, inexpensive clothing, recorded music, movies, hip-replacement surgery, national defense — you name it.

The few Americans who are even aware that there is a gathering global-energy predicament usually misunderstand the core of the argument. That argument states that we don’t have to run out of oil to start having severe problems with industrial civilization and its dependent systems. We only have to slip over the all-time production peak and begin a slide down the arc of steady depletion.

The term “global oil-production peak” means that a turning point will come when the world produces the most oil it will ever produce in a given year and, after that, yearly production will inexorably decline. It is usually represented graphically in a bell curve. The peak is the top of the curve, the halfway point of the world’s all-time total endowment, meaning half the world’s oil will be left. That seems like a lot of oil, and it is, but there’s a big catch: It’s the half that is much more difficult to extract, far more costly to get, of much poorer quality and located mostly in places where the people hate us. A substantial amount of it will never be extracted.

The United States passed its own oil peak — about 11 million barrels a day — in 1970, and since then production has dropped steadily. In 2004 it ran just above 5 million barrels a day (we get a tad more from natural-gas condensates). Yet we consume roughly 20 million barrels a day now. That means we have to import about two-thirds of our oil, and the ratio will continue to worsen.

The U.S. peak in 1970 brought on a portentous change in geoeconomic power. Within a few years, foreign producers, chiefly OPEC, were setting the price of oil, and this in turn led to the oil crises of the 1970s. In response, frantic development of non-OPEC oil, especially the North Sea fields of England and Norway, essentially saved the West’s ass for about two decades. Since 1999, these fields have entered depletion. Meanwhile, worldwide discovery of new oil has steadily declined to insignificant levels in 2003 and 2004.

Some “cornucopians” claim that the Earth has something like a creamy nougat center of “abiotic” oil that will naturally replenish the great oil fields of the world. The facts speak differently. There has been no replacement whatsoever of oil already extracted from the fields of America or any other place.

Now we are faced with the global oil-production peak. The best estimates of when this will actually happen have been somewhere between now and 2010. In 2004, however, after demand from burgeoning China and India shot up, and revelations that Shell Oil wildly misstated its reserves, and Saudi Arabia proved incapable of goosing up its production despite promises to do so, the most knowledgeable experts revised their predictions and now concur that 2005 is apt to be the year of all-time global peak production.

It will change everything about how we live.

To aggravate matters, American natural-gas production is also declining, at five percent a year, despite frenetic new drilling, and with the potential of much steeper declines ahead. Because of the oil crises of the 1970s, the nuclear-plant disasters at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl and the acid-rain problem, the U.S. chose to make gas its first choice for electric-power generation. The result was that just about every power plant built after 1980 has to run on gas. Half the homes in America are heated with gas. To further complicate matters, gas isn’t easy to import. Here in North America, it is distributed through a vast pipeline network. Gas imported from overseas would have to be compressed at minus-260 degrees Fahrenheit in pressurized tanker ships and unloaded (re-gasified) at special terminals, of which few exist in America. Moreover, the first attempts to site new terminals have met furious opposition because they are such ripe targets for terrorism.

Some other things about the global energy predicament are poorly understood by the public and even our leaders. This is going to be a permanent energy crisis, and these energy problems will synergize with the disruptions of climate change, epidemic disease and population overshoot to produce higher orders of trouble.

We will have to accommodate ourselves to fundamentally changed conditions.

No combination of alternative fuels will allow us to run American life the way we have been used to running it, or even a substantial fraction of it. The wonders of steady technological progress achieved through the reign of cheap oil have lulled us into a kind of Jiminy Cricket syndrome, leading many Americans to believe that anything we wish for hard enough will come true. These days, even people who ought to know better are wishing ardently for a seamless transition from fossil fuels to their putative replacements.

The widely touted “hydrogen economy” is a particularly cruel hoax. We are not going to replace the U.S. automobile and truck fleet with vehicles run on fuel cells. For one thing, the current generation of fuel cells is largely designed to run on hydrogen obtained from natural gas. The other way to get hydrogen in the quantities wished for would be electrolysis of water using power from hundreds of nuclear plants. Apart from the dim prospect of our building that many nuclear plants soon enough, there are also numerous severe problems with hydrogen’s nature as an element that present forbidding obstacles to its use as a replacement for oil and gas, especially in storage and transport.

Wishful notions about rescuing our way of life with “renewables” are also unrealistic. Solar-electric systems and wind turbines face not only the enormous problem of scale but the fact that the components require substantial amounts of energy to manufacture and the probability that they can’t be manufactured at all without the underlying support platform of a fossil-fuel economy. We will surely use solar and wind technology to generate some electricity for a period ahead but probably at a very local and small scale.

Virtually all “biomass” schemes for using plants to create liquid fuels cannot be scaled up to even a fraction of the level at which things are currently run. What’s more, these schemes are predicated on using oil and gas “inputs” (fertilizers, weed-killers) to grow the biomass crops that would be converted into ethanol or bio-diesel fuels. This is a net energy loser — you might as well just burn the inputs and not bother with the biomass products. Proposals to distill trash and waste into oil by means of thermal depolymerization depend on the huge waste stream produced by a cheap oil and gas economy in the first place.

Coal is far less versatile than oil and gas, extant in less abundant supplies than many people assume and fraught with huge ecological drawbacks — as a contributor to greenhouse “global warming” gases and many health and toxicity issues ranging from widespread mercury poisoning to acid rain. You can make synthetic oil from coal, but the only time this was tried on a large scale was by the Nazis under wartime conditions, using impressive amounts of slave labor.

If we wish to keep the lights on in America after 2020, we may indeed have to resort to nuclear power, with all its practical problems and eco-conundrums. Under optimal conditions, it could take ten years to get a new generation of nuclear power plants into operation, and the price may be beyond our means. Uranium is also a resource in finite supply. We are no closer to the more difficult project of atomic fusion, by the way, than we were in the 1970s.

The upshot of all this is that we are entering a historical period of potentially great instability, turbulence and hardship. Obviously, geopolitical maneuvering around the world’s richest energy regions has already led to war and promises more international military conflict. Since the Middle East contains two-thirds of the world’s remaining oil supplies, the U.S. has attempted desperately to stabilize the region by, in effect, opening a big police station in Iraq. The intent was not just to secure Iraq’s oil but to modify and influence the behavior of neighboring states around the Persian Gulf, especially Iran and Saudi Arabia. The results have been far from entirely positive, and our future prospects in that part of the world are not something we can feel altogether confident about.

And then there is the issue of China, which, in 2004, became the world’s second-greatest consumer of oil, surpassing Japan. China’s surging industrial growth has made it increasingly dependent on the imports we are counting on. If China wanted to, it could easily walk into some of these places — the Middle East, former Soviet republics in central Asia — and extend its hegemony by force. Is America prepared to contest for this oil in an Asian land war with the Chinese army? I doubt it. Nor can the U.S. military occupy regions of the Eastern Hemisphere indefinitely, or hope to secure either the terrain or the oil infrastructure of one distant, unfriendly country after another. A likely scenario is that the U.S. could exhaust and bankrupt itself trying to do this, and be forced to withdraw back into our own hemisphere, having lost access to most of the world’s remaining oil in the process.

We know that our national leaders are hardly uninformed about this predicament. President George W. Bush has been briefed on the dangers of the oil-peak situation as long ago as before the 2000 election and repeatedly since then. In March, the Department of Energy released a report that officially acknowledges for the first time that peak oil is for real and states plainly that “the world has never faced a problem like this. Without massive mitigation more than a decade before the fact, the problem will be pervasive and will not be temporary.”

Most of all, the Long Emergency will require us to make other arrangements for the way we live in the United States. America is in a special predicament due to a set of unfortunate choices we made as a society in the twentieth century. Perhaps the worst was to let our towns and cities rot away and to replace them with suburbia, which had the additional side effect of trashing a lot of the best farmland in America. Suburbia will come to be regarded as the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world. It has a tragic destiny. The psychology of previous investment suggests that we will defend our drive-in utopia long after it has become a terrible liability.

Before long, the suburbs will fail us in practical terms. We made the ongoing development of housing subdivisions, highway strips, fried-food shacks and shopping malls the basis of our economy, and when we have to stop making more of those things, the bottom will fall out.

The circumstances of the Long Emergency will require us to downscale and re-scale virtually everything we do and how we do it, from the kind of communities we physically inhabit to the way we grow our food to the way we work and trade the products of our work. Our lives will become profoundly and intensely local. Daily life will be far less about mobility and much more about staying where you are. Anything organized on the large scale, whether it is government or a corporate business enterprise such as Wal-Mart, will wither as the cheap energy props that support bigness fall away. The turbulence of the Long Emergency will produce a lot of economic losers, and many of these will be members of an angry and aggrieved former middle class.

Food production is going to be an enormous problem in the Long Emergency. As industrial agriculture fails due to a scarcity of oil- and gas-based inputs, we will certainly have to grow more of our food closer to where we live, and do it on a smaller scale. The American economy of the mid-twenty-first century may actually center on agriculture, not information, not high tech, not “services” like real estate sales or hawking cheeseburgers to tourists. Farming. This is no doubt a startling, radical idea, and it raises extremely difficult questions about the reallocation of land and the nature of work. The relentless subdividing of land in the late twentieth century has destroyed the contiguity and integrity of the rural landscape in most places. The process of readjustment is apt to be disorderly and improvisational. Food production will necessarily be much more labor-intensive than it has been for decades. We can anticipate the re-formation of a native-born American farm-laboring class. It will be composed largely of the aforementioned economic losers who had to relinquish their grip on the American dream. These masses of disentitled people may enter into quasi-feudal social relations with those who own land in exchange for food and physical security. But their sense of grievance will remain fresh, and if mistreated they may simply seize that land.

The way that commerce is currently organized in America will not survive far into the Long Emergency. Wal-Mart’s “warehouse on wheels” won’t be such a bargain in a non-cheap-oil economy. The national chain stores’ 12,000-mile manufacturing supply lines could easily be interrupted by military contests over oil and by internal conflict in the nations that have been supplying us with ultra-cheap manufactured goods, because they, too, will be struggling with similar issues of energy famine and all the disorders that go with it.

As these things occur, America will have to make other arrangements for the manufacture, distribution and sale of ordinary goods. They will probably be made on a “cottage industry” basis rather than the factory system we once had, since the scale of available energy will be much lower — and we are not going to replay the twentieth century. Tens of thousands of the common products we enjoy today, from paints to pharmaceuticals, are made out of oil. They will become increasingly scarce or unavailable. The selling of things will have to be reorganized at the local scale. It will have to be based on moving merchandise shorter distances. It is almost certain to result in higher costs for the things we buy and far fewer choices.

The automobile will be a diminished presence in our lives, to say the least. With gasoline in short supply, not to mention tax revenue, our roads will surely suffer. The interstate highway system is more delicate than the public realizes. If the “level of service” (as traffic engineers call it) is not maintained to the highest degree, problems multiply and escalate quickly. The system does not tolerate partial failure. The interstates are either in excellent condition, or they quickly fall apart.

America today has a railroad system that the Bulgarians would be ashamed of. Neither of the two major presidential candidates in 2004 mentioned railroads, but if we don’t refurbish our rail system, then there may be no long-range travel or transport of goods at all a few decades from now. The commercial aviation industry, already on its knees financially, is likely to vanish. The sheer cost of maintaining gigantic airports may not justify the operation of a much-reduced air-travel fleet. Railroads are far more energy efficient than cars, trucks or airplanes, and they can be run on anything from wood to electricity. The rail-bed infrastructure is also far more economical to maintain than our highway network.

The successful regions in the twenty-first century will be the ones surrounded by viable farming hinterlands that can reconstitute locally sustainable economies on an armature of civic cohesion. Small towns and smaller cities have better prospects than the big cities, which will probably have to contract substantially. The process will be painful and tumultuous. In many American cities, such as Cleveland, Detroit and St. Louis, that process is already well advanced. Others have further to fall. New York and Chicago face extraordinary difficulties, being oversupplied with gigantic buildings out of scale with the reality of declining energy supplies. Their former agricultural hinterlands have long been paved over. They will be encysted in a surrounding fabric of necrotic suburbia that will only amplify and reinforce the cities’ problems. Still, our cities occupy important sites. Some kind of urban entities will exist where they are in the future, but probably not the colossi of twentieth-century industrialism.

Some regions of the country will do better than others in the Long Emergency. The Southwest will suffer in proportion to the degree that it prospered during the cheap-oil blowout of the late twentieth century. I predict that Sunbelt states like Arizona and Nevada will become significantly depopulated, since the region will be short of water as well as gasoline and natural gas. Imagine Phoenix without cheap air conditioning.

I’m not optimistic about the Southeast, either, for different reasons. I think it will be subject to substantial levels of violence as the grievances of the formerly middle class boil over and collide with the delusions of Pentecostal Christian extremism. The latent encoded behavior of Southern culture includes an outsized notion of individualism and the belief that firearms ought to be used in the defense of it. This is a poor recipe for civic cohesion.

The Mountain States and Great Plains will face an array of problems, from poor farming potential to water shortages to population loss. The Pacific Northwest, New England and the Upper Midwest have somewhat better prospects. I regard them as less likely to fall into lawlessness, anarchy or despotism and more likely to salvage the bits and pieces of our best social traditions and keep them in operation at some level.

These are daunting and even dreadful prospects. The Long Emergency is going to be a tremendous trauma for the human race. We will not believe that this is happening to us, that 200 years of modernity can be brought to its knees by a world-wide power shortage. The survivors will have to cultivate a religion of hope — that is, a deep and comprehensive belief that humanity is worth carrying on. If there is any positive side to stark changes coming our way, it may be in the benefits of close communal relations, of having to really work intimately (and physically) with our neighbors, to be part of an enterprise that really matters and to be fully engaged in meaningful social enactments instead of being merely entertained to avoid boredom. Years from now, when we hear singing at all, we will hear ourselves, and we will sing with our whole hearts.

Adapted from The Long Emergency, 2005, by James Howard Kunstler, and reprinted with permission of the publisher, Grove/Atlantic, Inc.

(Posted Mar 24, 2005)

Corbu was a shit-head

Sent: Tuesday, February 22, 2005 5:09 PM
Subject: [getsmart-l] James Howard Kunstler on Suburbs and Ontario’sGreenbelt

Trevor Shaw talks with James Howard Kunstler about what future we might expect for the suburbs.

Background: The Province of Ontario has recently drafted a “green-belt protection plan”. This will halt sprawl development on the fringes of the Golden Horseshoe Region (Greater Toronto Area) in southern Ontario.

This is a vast area and forces a stop to the traditional suburban development of buying farmland on the fringes of cities, lobbying to get municipal services, then building a typical car dependent sub-division that we are so familiar with, then lobbying for highway/road expansion to accommodate the ‘growth’.

The Ontario Provincial Government has recommended higher density and in-fill development as well as areas for primary and secondary growth as stated in the “Places to Grow” document. The Golden Horseshoe Region is expected to grow another four million people over the next 25 years, with Hamilton being at the geographic centre of this area and expected to double in size in 25 years.

The Hamilton CMA was home to 662,401 people in 2001 and is expected to reach one and half million by 2025. For the most part the proposed ‘Greenbelt’ ha s the blessing from the municipalities involved, especially the older urban areas. The home building industry is opposed to it, saying it will increase the cost of homes that will have to be passed onto consumers.

The urban areas have seen a shrinking tax base due to growth beyond the city limits that usually falls within another suburban municipality, resulting in lower property taxes for the suburbs and a type of ‘class-war’ between cities and their suburbs.

The government amalgamated the cities of Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, London and Sudbury with their respective suburbs to form ‘super-cities’ to hopefully solve some of the problems associated with ‘donut growth’ policies. However, this has fueled resentment and the suburbs have been experiencing property tax increases in order to pay their share of the urban burdens: social services, policing, and an aging infrastructure.

The problem is the suburban residents don’t see themselves as part of the larger urban environment. That is, they are not city dwellers, therefore they feel that they shouldn’t have to pay for what they see as a mismanaged city.

The suburbs feel they are exempt from paying for services they don’t use. This situation is most emphasized in the city of Hamilton, where amalgamation has been a contentious issue. Hamilton proper has more than 320,000 residents, while the suburbs collectively account for about 185,000, but city council has eight councilors representing the city and seven representing the suburbs, plus one mayor.

The Interview Trevor Shaw, Raise the Hammer (RTH): The local home-building industry (Hamilton Halton Home Builders Association) has stated that the costs of homes will increase as a result of the ‘Greenbelt’. They claim that the average family’s ‘dream home’ will be unaffordable due to rising land costs. Do you think protecting surrounding farmland from future development will result in more expensive and possibly unaffordable housing for average families?

James Howard Kunstler (JHK): The conventional view of this problem, in my opinion, completely misses the reality of the circumstances we are moving into. I would begin by saying check all your assumptions about land development and economic growth at the door.

The salient fact about the decades ahead is that we are entering a permanent global energy crisis and it will change everything about how we live. The suburban cycle which began a hundred years ago is nearly over. We are in for a period of contraction and economic hardship.

There is not going to be a “hydrogen economy,” and no combination of alternative energy systems or fuels will allow us to continue the suburban pattern. It’s finished. We will, however, desperately need to grow more of our food closer to home, and so the preservation of agricultural hinterlands is of great importance. But don’t expect the fiesta of suburban construction to continue more than a few more years. And after that, watch out below…

RTH: I have read from the home developers that the increase in Hamilton’s population over the next 25 years amounts to “over 30, Century-21 towers in the downtown” (refering to Hamilton’s tallest building the 43 floor Landmark Place), as if this would impose impossible living conditions, however European cities are significantly more dense and more livable. The proposed Greenbelt will inevitably force home builders to change their business plans. What can be done to provide acceptable housing for an increasing population wit in the existing city limits, including brownfield and in-fill development?

JHK: The skyscraper – any building over seven stories really – will come to be seen as an experimental building type that doesn’t work well in an energy-starved economy. Once these energy problems gain traction, there will be a large new class of economic losers, and consequently a lot of social turbulence.

I think we’ll see a leveling off and then a contraction of population, not a continued upward trend. Our building practices for the past century have been plain stupid – especially the glorification of the single-family house in a subdivision, at the expense of all other typologies and arrangements.

For instance, the most common type of “affordable housing” in the world comes in the form of apartments over stores, and 99 percent of retail buildings in North America the past sixty years have been one story.

In many places, the zoning prohibits the mixing of retail and residential. This stupidity has been accompanied by stupidities in municipal policy, such as disallowing accessory apartments – under the theory that renters are incapable of behaving decently.

A lot of these practices will have to end, and will by necessity. We will have to make new arrangements, or revive bygone ones. We may, for another example, see the return of the boarding house.

Two decades from now, I doubt that the homebuilding industry, so called, will even exist as we have known it. The increment of new development will be the single building lot, if we are lucky, and most of the codes that are now enforced will be ignored because the redundancies they mandate will not be affordable.

RTH: Do you think home-builders are just building what consumers demand?

JHK: They’re building what has been successful for them in the past. By the way, I abhor the word “consumer.” Consumers, unlike citizens, have no implicit duties, obligations, or responsibilities to the common good. It’s a degrading term. The use of it degrades the public discussion. The builders will continue to behave the way they are used to behaving until reality bitch-slaps them upside their heads. By then, they will all be headed out of business.

RTH: Are we stuck with what we got or do you think it will be possible to retro-fit existing car-dependent suburbs, into walkable, livable neighbourhoods?

JHK: I believe most of suburbia is unreformable and will not be fixed. It represents, after all, the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world. We built it during our most affluent period of history, and in the decades to come we will be comparatively destitute collectively. In short, we will not have the resources to retrofit most of suburbia.

What’s more, we are in for a fiesta of default, repossession, and distress selling of suburban property, much of which will lose its presumed usefulness and monetary value in an energy-scarce economy.

As if that wasn’t enough, consider how badly-built suburbia is. Many business buildings are not designed to outlast their tax depreciation periods, and the McHouses are made of particle board, vinyl siding, and stapled-on trim. A lot of suburbia will simply become the slums of the future. Most of the rest will be salvage or ruins.

RTH: Hamilton is the industrial capital (Steel City) of Canada and the ninth largest city. If often looks to Pittsburgh as inspiration for reinventing itself. Do you have any thoughts as to how Hamilton can change its perceived image as a ‘dead industrial rust-bucket town’?

JHK: No. The industrial age is over. What follows will be life lived on a much smaller and finer scale. Think ‘contraction’ and pray that it is not too disorderly.

RTH: How can suburban residents be encouraged to feel part of a larger urban area?

JHK: In my view, suburbia in general has very poor prospects. I think it will only become devalued and probably more dangerous. It’s chief characteristic was that it represented a living arrangement with no future – and that future is now here.

RTH: We often hear municipal bureaucrats and politicians talking about ‘sustainable development’, but see minimal implementation of the theory. What is sustainable urban development to you? And is it possible to expect a growing city to occupy a limited amount of space?

JHK: Under the current high energy / high entropy regime, sustainable development is a joke. In the decades to come, the successful places will tend to be the smaller traditional towns and cities with viable farming hinterlands. The economy of the 21st century will come to center on agriculture. Life will be intensely and profoundly local in ways that we can’t conceive of today. Economic growth, as we have known it in a cheap energy industrial paradigm, will cease.

RTH: Le Corbusier described the city of the future as consisting of large apartment buildings, isolated in a park-like setting on pilotis, all connected by raised ‘streets’. How do you see the future city?

JHK: Corbu was a shit-head. Just about everything he thought about cities was wrong. And the ideas of his that actually found their way into practice were deeply destructive – for instance, the tower-in-a-park, which mutated into the vertical slums of the late 20th century.

Forget Corbu. Forget Modernism. Forget yesterdays’ tomorrow. The cities of the future will be much smaller than they are today. It is worth remembering that our cities occupy important sites, and therefore some kind of settlement is liable to be there. Places like Hamilton will contract. A lot of the 20th century buildings, based on heroic HVAC systems, will be unusable. The medieval town may be a more appropriate model for where we’re going.

******************************************************************

James Howard Kunstler’s books are available through Detour’s UrbanSource at http://www.urbansource.org/search.php?searchBy=bookauthor&q=kunstler >OSGN Members in good standing receive discounts of up to 20%!

Aeroportos

Ota inviável

O ministro Mário Lino, pelos vistos, teve que meter a viola no saco e ceder às pressões do aparelho partidário (sobretudo dos boys & girls do PS) no que se refere à inexplicada urgência de avançar para o grande aeroporto internacional da Ota. O pessoal mais ávido exigiu e Sócrates, inteligente, anuíu, cogitando certamente sobre a improbabilidade do evento e sobre a trabalheira que iria dar aos seus mais interesseiros defensores. Aproveitou pois a pressão e a poeira, transformando-as numa boa manobra de diversão, ao mesmo tempo que jogava um osso aos perdigueiros ansiosos.
Alguém terá, entretanto, perguntado ao Sr Lino sobre quem estaria disponível para investir nesta aventura, onde alguns insiders vêm especulando há anos, comprando na zona da Ota terrenos agrícolas a baixo custo, para mais tarde revender com ganhos extraordinários. Por sua vez, os putativos investidores (que terão que suportar 2/3 da jogada) também questionaram o Governo, desta vez, sobre se já haveria ou não algum estudo de viabilidade económica para tamanha ousadia. O ministro engasgou-se e depois irritou-se. Recomposto, disse enfim que havia 70 estudos sobre a matéria*, embora, nenhum sobre a sua viabilidade económica! Ora, como bem se sabe, sem tal papelinho, a Comunidade Europeia não vai adiantar um euro. Lino, percebendo finalmente o fiasco, cuspiu: em Outubro tereis o vosso estudo! Outubro. Três dias para a apresentação do Orçamento do Estado. Estamos em pulgas…

E agora, umas perguntinhas ao Partido Socialista (que muito estimo):

1) Que forças ocultas levam o actual partido do Governo de Portugal a apostar, sem um único estudo decente e público, na aventura completamente insustentável da Ota?

2) Ouvi dizer que a rede de lobbying em volta deste petisco vai desde o chamado grupo de Macau até à Maçonaria, passando por uma grande construtora nacional (a Teixeira Duarte), supostamente próxima do PS, e ainda por uma tal Société Aéroports de Paris. Será possível? O boato corre. E se corre, cumprirá aos visados desmentirem-no, se for o caso. Não é verdade?
Sabemos que António Vitorino se distanciou há algum tempo do objectivo Ota. Mas o que pensa Jorge Coelho, agora que o fiasco das autárquicas lhe deixou tempo de sobra para assuntos mais elevados?

3) Quem é o mastermind desta aparente cegueira governamental? Será o Eng Cravinho, como se diz por aí? E se for, então porque teme discutir o assunto detalhada e publicamente? Há seguramente outros argumentos na sua cabeça para além do temor de um acidente aéreo sobre a cidade de Lisboa.

A questão estratégica essencial deste País nas próximas duas décadas é saber se vamos ou não ser capazes de construir uma visão alternativa de desenvolvimento e de futuro. Sobre aeroportos, continuamos a pensar que é possível e rentável esticar a Portela (pois tem terreno expropriável que chegue para melhorar as suas estruturas de acolhimento e vias de taxiway); usar o Montijo, Tires e Alenquer, antes de avançar para um super-aeroporto. Mas se este viesse a ser, dentro de uma década, uma opção inevitável (o que não cremos, pois de aqui a dez anos a escassez relativa de petróleo e gás natural já terá provocado uma reviravolta de 360º no actual modelo capitalista), então a sua localização lógica nunca será a Ota, mas Rio Frio, ou por perto.

Os grandes investimentos em infraestururas aeroportuárias, portuárias, ferroviárias de alta velocidade e rodoviárias deverão, em nosso entender, privilegiar o mais importante eixo de crescimento populacional e desenvolvimento acelerado actualmente em curso entre Portugal, Espanha e o resto da Europa. Refiro-me ao eixo Lisboa-Madrid-Barcelona. A quimera do arco atlântico (luso-galaico-cantábrico-basco), defendido pelo lobby do Norte e sonhado pelo Sr Cravinho, com alguns laivos anti-castelhanos, parece-me uma estratégia suicida, com atávicas afloraçãos sebastianistas, que deveremos contrariar a todo o custo. Se fizermos a nossa parte, i.e. ultrapassar este impasse estratégico, que prejudica Portugal há mais de uma década, apenas teremos que rezar para que o petróleo não incendeie o planeta entretanto.

AC-P

__________________

* Ver, a propósito dos 70 estudos produzidos (!) sobre a Ota, o artigo de Patrícia Pires, redistribuído por Rui Rodrigues.

Ota: quantos estudos foram feitos?

Portugal Diário por Patrícia Pires

2005/10/04 | 16:20 || PDiário: Empresa destinada a avaliar e planear o novo aeroporto diz que foram realizados 70 estudos, mas associação ambiental garante que tantos documentos são «milagre da multiplicação» e não contabiliza mais do que dois. «O resto são alíneas»

MAIS: a.. Lisboa pode ter três aeroportos Dos 70 estudos publicados pela NAER – Novo Aeroporto S.A., a associação ambiental Alambi reduz a contagem a dois. Sobre a avaliação e o planeamento da construção do novo aeroporto na Ota, o Ministério das Obras Públicas cedeu uma listagem de 70 estudos realizados entre 1997 e 2005.

A lista a que os jornalistas tiveram acesso é composta por 70 «estudos», mas o ambientalista José Carlos Morais explica que «apenas foram feitos e concluídos dois estudos preliminares de impacto ambiental relativos à localização do novo aeroporto de Lisboa» que identifica em seguida: «o Estudo Preliminar de Impacte Ambiental (EPIA) e a Proposta de Definição do Âmbito do Estudo de Impacte Ambiental».

O ambientalista diz ainda que basta olhar para o «Estudo Preliminar de Impacte Ambiental» (EPIA) para perceber que 24 das alíneas são os seus diferentes capítulos. Em declarações ao PortugalDiário, José Carlos Morais defende que «só existem dois estudos concluídos sobre a Ota na área do impacto ambiental. Mais que isso é o milagre da multiplicação dos pães».

O PortugalDiário tentou obter uma justificação junto do Ministério das Obras Públicas, mas qualquer justificação foi encaminhada para a NAER.

A empresa criada para planear e estudar a construção do novo aeroporto de Lisboa explicou, através do seu porta-voz, Rui Oliveira, que «a lista divulgada é o conjunto de todos os estudos realizados pelo gabinete de Engenharia da Universidade Nova de Lisboa e que cada um diz respeito a um aspecto técnico ou geológico. Como em 1998 o governo pediu uma síntese de todas as acções elaborou-se este EPIA».

De facto, o Estudo Preliminar de Impacte Ambiental é o único documento relacionado com o novo aeroporto divulgado publicamente e no decorrer do qual é feita uma comparação entre duas localidades para o novo aeroporto: Ota e Rio Frio.

A comissão criada, ainda no tempo de António Guterres, para avaliar este estudo concluiu que a Ota era a opção «menos desfavorável» e que tudo o que tinha lido «não era suficiente ou válido como elemento e base para a tomada de uma decisão». Mesmo assim, a Ota foi a localização eleita.

O PortugalDiário sabe que com base nas sugestões desta comissão, a NAER encomendou algumas «sondagens geotécnicas» na zona da Ota e que segundo o seu porta-voz «estão todas concluídas» e fazem parte da já referida lista.

Uma barragem, além do aeroporto

Mas a lista cedida pelo Ministério das Obras Públicas não se limita ao EPIA e às sondagens. José Carlos Morais, da Alambi, afirma que a NAER também encomendou uma Proposta de Definição do Âmbito do Estudo de Impacte Ambiental a uma empresa americana, a Parsons, e que esta consta do documento.

Todavia, a NAER explica que o que está na lista «não é Proposta de Definição do Âmbito do Estudo de Impacte Ambiental».

De acordo com José Morais, o documento é apenas «mais uma fase preliminar de todo este processo. E visa perceber o que deve ser estudado e com que profundidade – tendo em conta o local escolhido para a construção do aeroporto».

A Proposta de Definição, a que o PortugalDiário teve acesso, foi concluída em 2002. A proposta aponta para soluções específicas, tendo em conta as particularidades do terreno, como por exemplo a criação de uma barragem: grande parte dos terrenos em redor do aeroporto são «de aluvião», ou seja, «zonas inundáveis»; outra solução para evitar inundações, prevê a alteração da orientação das pistas. José Carlos Morais não tem dúvidas: «uma parte do terreno tem tanta água que vão ter de construir o aeroporto sob estacas».

O ministro das Obras Públicas prometeu revelar os estudos em Novembro e só nessa altura será possível contabilizar todos os trabalhos que foram efectivamente realizados. Até lá, a margen de erro fica entre os dois e os 70… estudos.

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E ainda sobre esta temática um avisado artigo de Rui Rodrigues, previamente publicado pelo Público: “Será viável o aeroporto da Ota?” LINK (PDF)