The ‘greenest’ island in the world
Fossil fuels have packed their bags on El Hierro. In under a year, nobody wants them on the island any more, and they won't be necessary. The wind, the water and the sun will give all of the energy they need. The energy will be clean because it comes from nature and El Hierro will become the first self-sufficient island on Earth.
The idea of placing nature as a route map has also spread to agriculture and stock breeding. The fruit and greens will not grow covered with pesticides and artificial fertilisers, the yoghurts and other animal products will have ecological certificates. The fishing will enable ever larger shoals of fish. The fleet of motor vehicles powered by fossil fuels will progressively be replaced with electric vehicles that will take their energy from the electricity generated by the island winds. The houses will heat the water they use with solar panels on their roofs.
On this 278 square kilometer island surrounded by Atlantic water, they all know that nature is the beginning and end of all. In school the islanders learn to respect and coexist with the vegetation, the sea, the desert, the animals...
The economic model is inspired in nature. On Hierro they know that rubbish does not have to be produced because it is actually an unused resource. This is something they also take into culture which is why they make sculptures with tyres, useless apparatus is and broken electrical appliances.
This island, which a man from Valverde (the capital) calls “mini-mini-continent”, because there are many microclimates and spots to remind one of such different places as Iceland and the Middle East, has long been visited by scientists, geologists, writers, photographers, environmentalists... They call it “scientific tourism”. These are people looking for clues to build a form of sustainable development based on the logic of nature.
Clues too to a form of life without hurry to such an extent that some live away from civilisation and don't even think about having a car. This happens in Pozo de las Calcosas, a tiny village divided in two. In the summer, its inhabitants live by the sea and natural pools. In the winter they climb a very steep slope and wait there until the heat comes back, all but one, Nicanor, who always lives glued to the Atlantic.
– And what do you do when you have to go to Valverde?
– I walk. It's only ten kilometres.