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Now here’s a green cause behind which ol’ Robbo is quite willing to get:

It used to be unthinkable to start a dinner party without a satisfying ‘pop’ of the cork.

But the popularity of ‘New World’ wines from Australia or America and the convenience of opening a picnic bottle without a corkscrew led to a rise in the popularity of screw caps.

Now cork suppliers and environmentalists are fighting back claiming the move is threatening the two million hectares of forest across Portugal, Spain, North Africa and Italy which are sustained through industry management.

The area includes the Montada forest which is considered one of the ‘biodiversity hot spots’ of the world where some of the world’s most endangered animals live including the Iberian lynx.

In just 0.1 hectare of forest there can be more than 100 certified species.

Rui Simoes, a representative of Rainforest Alliance, said “It is not just about cork it is about a rich community of plants and animals that all rely on one another.”

Environmentalists fear that if farmers cannot make money from cork they will replant with non-native eucalyptus trees.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has estimated that up to three quarters of the Mediterranean’s cork forests could be lost within 10 years if the trend for plastic stoppers and screw tops continues.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) have also urged consumers to support the cork forests in order to sustain the huge bird population.

Horibile dictu, I must confess that for some time now we’ve actually been drinking box wine on ordinary evenings at the port-swiller residence.  And while this has saved us a respectable wodge of dosh, it is evendent that we owe it to Mother Gaia to step back up to something with a cork in it.

And since the enviro-weenies are here pushing a cause Robbo supports, he will only gently point out that the benefits of cork forests “sustained through industry management” are virtually identical to the benefits of slash-pine forests also “sustained through industry management,” which is why Robbo has always thought paper recycling to be a horse’s assed foolish  less than beneficial proposition based primarily on self-righteous sentimentality and not really on any sound cost-benefit analysis. 

Mrs. Robbo spent this past week finishing up a graduate course at Johns-Hopkins.  This necessitated leaving the gels with a sitter during the day, a young woman whose main job is as an assistant at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method, and who also happens to be a member of ol’ Robbo’s parish.

The young woman, who is especially fond of the eight year old gel, gave her as a present one of those plastic children’s rosaries.  The gel was as pleased as punch and solemnly vowed to me that she would never, ever take it off, or at least wouldn’t until she got another one when she grew up.

Only trouble is that she keeps calling it a “rosemary”.

“Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors.  It is the democracy of the dead.  Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.”

-G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

(The matter of tradition came up in conversation and I couldn’t quite get the quote correct.  I post it here simply by way of refreshing my memory.)

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