26 imagesBarroso x Lithium: the green the economy threatens to destroy a World Heritage way of life As countries fiercely compete to see who will lead the post-carbon economy, a World Heritage way of life in Portugal is under threat, in the name of the new green future, by the same vices of the old order: the reliance on the environmentally destructive extraction of non-renewable natural resources. In this case lithium, a main component for the batteries that promise to free the world from the need to burn oil to produce energy and move people around. The Portuguese government hopes the large deposits of lithium found in the Barroso region in the north of the country will give it a chance to transform its perennially struggling economy and become a manufacturing hub for the batteries used by electric cars. The plan has strong support, and funding, from the European Union, who fear it is lagging behind the US and China in the race to dominate the new technology. In 2018 the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) declared the Barroso a World Agriculture Heritage Site, the second region to receive such designation in Europe. The region is one of the most isolated, and poorest, in the country, known for its harsh climate, rough terrain and stunning beauty. Over the centuries its residents have developed a complex system of agriculture and cattle ranching that relies on the collective management of its water resources and of the pasture areas used by their animals. This method has kept the region’s soil fertile, its rivers and springs clean, the landscape unblemished and its communitarian cultural traditions alive. The lithium mines could forever damage this protected environment and way of life.