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Ligabue Magazine n° 78
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Ligabue Magazine

Number 77
2nd Semester - 2020


Included in the price there is e-book version

Magazine + e-book€ 18,00

* Digital versions from no. 1 to no. 57 are obtained from a scan of the magazine. May therefore present the imperfections in the display of text and images.


All aboard!
This issue of Ligabue Magazine takes us to extremely
varied, distant destinations: from the tropical rainforest
to the Namib desert and the Antarctic ice sheet. We
then continue our world tour on treetops, before discussing
climate change and measuring time in Venice.
We start in the Amazon rainforest and its native peoples.
Emiliano Guanella describes, in particular,
the role of the elders in tribes such as the Yanomami,
Kayapó and Palikur. The older people still represent
the community when it comes to political negotiations
on environmental conservation, while never neglecting
their vital task of passing on knowledge to the younger
generation. It is not uncommon for groups of ten young
people to sit up late into the night listening to their
stories about life in the forest, hunting or fishing, the
use of natural resources, interpreting nature's signs, and
a host of other topics. Unfortunately, a serious threat
hangs over these tribes: the elders are the most vulnerable
to Covid-19. Some of the historic leaders of the Amazonian
communities have fallen victim to the virus.
They pass away in silence, while you are reading these
lines, while the future of the rainforest is crying out for
help. Without the elders, we lose a precious source of
knowledge, essential for the conservation of the largest
green lung in the world.
After leaving the Amazon rainforest, we cross the ocean
and touch down in the neverending expanses of the Namib
desert, where Alessandro Parodi takes us to visit a
now abandoned settlement: the ghost town of Kolmanskop.
Built by German settlers in 1908, it is situated in
the middle of an area rich in diamonds. The last inhabitants
left in 1956, and now the town is completely deserted,
its houses invaded by sand and dunes. Diamonds
had enabled this small community to flourish, but the
end of mining activities brought its rapid demise as people
suddenly moved on. Everything is still in place: until
a few years ago you could still even roll a ball in the perfectly
intact, functioning wooden skittles alley.
From the desert heat, we plunge into the freezing polar
world. Giuliano Gallo recounts the incredible adventure
of Ernest Shackleton. In 1915, in a war-torn Europe,
he and his crew sailed aboard the Endurance to
Antarctica to try and reach the South Pole overland.
The Irish adventurer and his men never made it to their
destination, but the story of their survival is still an incredible
testimony to life in extreme conditions, pushing
human capabilities to the limit. We know much
more about this expedition than about similar ventures
thanks to photographs taken by the Australian Frank
Hurley. His photo report showed for the first time
the cruel beauty of a still unknown part of the world:
people could finally see the reality of the Antarctic
and not simply imagine it from the words of previous
expeditions. “Had Shackleton lived in the days of the
Vikings”, wrote the Buenos Aires Herald, “the bards
would have composed a saga to his praise, & would sing
it [sic] in the North land by the side of roaring fires.”
We know that today our climate is changing, but what
do we know of its ups and downs in past eras? Many
surprises come to light as Luca Mercalli looks into
some historical myths. For example, it’s not true that
the climate was warmer when Hannibal crossed the
Alps. Some of his elephants died because of the cold
and snow. Paradoxically, many more died on the apparently
much less insidious Apennines: those smaller
mountains almost completely wiped out his legendary
war elephants. Or again, it’s not true that Greenland
was once all green. Only narrow coastal strips were
lush when Erik the Red arrived and called the island
Greenland to attract settlers. And lastly, while it is true
that the Middle Ages was followed by the so-called Little
Ice Age, the differences in temperature and climate
were not as great as some have surmised.
After the climate, we come to forests and trees. Alessandra
Viola takes us on a fascinating journey amongst
nature’s giants. No living organism has demonstrated
such a great capacity for survival: trees have lived
through the atomic explosions of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
the Vajont disaster and the attack on the Twin
Towers. In this sense, some trees have always been reliable,
silent witnesses to events that have shaped the
course of history. We need to start thinking about how
to protect them better, and not simply consider them as
trunks to be cut down.
Keeping the time is essential for city life, and when
clocks were first introduced and prominently displayed
in public squares, they became symbols of a city’s
wealth and opulence. One example is Venice, which
flaunted its technology and power also through its sophisticated
timepieces. Francesco Zane describes them
in a fascinating account of clocks during the Serenissima
Republic. Sadly, he died while this issue was being
produced, and we would like to remember him here on
his last journey through the wonders of the lagoon city.
We are greatly indebted to him. Thank you, Francesco.
Enjoy your reading

Real all editroial... Alberto Angela