Thirty two years ago I was resident in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. One morning I casually picked up a newspaper and read a headline that in 50 years’ time the Central Mediterranean area was destined to change to Sahara desert conditions.
I took it all with a pinch of salt – the usual journalistic sensation fabricated to draw attention and increase sales – particularly as Melbourne teems with people with Central Mediterranean descent, including many, many thousands of Maltese.
Thirty two years later I have to eat my words as the devastations of climate change are slowly deteriorating our world – the main contributor being humanity itself – no, not nature or natural causes, but the work of human beings.
In the Maltese Islands we are at the very centre of the Mediterranean. Generally the summers are always hot from mid-June to mid-September, occasionally tempered by a cool breeze that descends south from the Alps. We have experienced heat waves before, spanning a few days and then returning to hot. This year we have stifled under an almost continuous heatwave with no respite at all.
Meanwhile, all around us infernos are blazing and destroying vast tracts of houses, trees and woodlands – in Greece, in Sicily, in Sardinia and other regions, including North Africa. Over the years we have lamented we do not have enough trees and greenery but contrastingly, this dearth has been to our advantage as otherwise the whole of our Maltese Islands would be ablaze!
In a further contrast while our region is ablaze, floods have caused havoc and death in Germany (150 people died), Belgium, the UK and parts of Italy and even Sicily – most unusual at this time of the year and floods have also ravaged the north of Turkey.
In even greater contrast woodland and forest fires are blazing throughout the United States. In Siberia wild fires have ravaged an area the size of the whole of Greece.
Is this the work of nature?
To exacerbate all this, the Covid pandemic continues to devastate the world. Personally, from the very beginning 20 months ago I discounted stories of lab-manufactured viruses being released from Chinese laboratories to damage the US and the Western world. Nature itself has a way of responding to its catastrophes and this is the response to vast over-population worldwide and consequently the great demands placed on natural resources.
In a similar manner, nature has highly escalated its response to natural damages created worldwide and is strongly reacting through climate change. The situation has now reached a stage where the United Nations has issued a strong warning that the red lights are flashing and the world cannot continue in this manner.
In a recent report issued by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres he made it clear the recent phenomena are the direct result of human behaviour. The report concludes the seas and oceans are warming and the atmosphere is warming. The last five years have been the hottest worldwide since 1850 and the sea level around the world is three times higher compared to the first 70 years of the last Century.
The future – more floods and stronger heatwaves and if this happens, in another 20 years temperatures will have surpassed those of 100 years ago by an additional 1.5 degrees Celsius. Even more horrifying it is predicted that in 30 years’ time the ice in the Arctic Ocean will have completely melted.
Rising sea levels could be the greatest threat to the Maltese Islands because of a number of flat coastal localities. Areas like Marsa, Msida, Mellieha and many others are flat and already at sea level. They will disappear if the sea rises by just one metre.
The report concludes that unless something is done right here and now, the world as we know it faces devastation.
Of equal alarming concern, Malta’s Ambassador to Action Against Climate Change, Professor Simone Borg, has just announced that a lack of rainfall and a lack of dew is paving the way for Malta to become Sahara Desert status. Rain is falling in small but heavy bursts that harm agriculture, cause soil erosion and general damages – in contrast to very beneficial normal rain over a period of time.
She pointed out that a major problem is that of achieving a joint action plan by all nations and currently there is general lack of consensus among nations and industries as most are stressing their own interests rather than for the international good. Currently, EU plans to reduce emissions by 55% by 2030 have only obtained 33% approval. The EU’s more ambitious plan is that the whole of Europe becomes carbon neutral by 2050.
The Malta Government and people are now equipped with greater awareness and more awareness is being exercised in pollution in general, refuse dumping and particularly the dumping of plastics in the sea as well as carbon reduction. HOWEVER, it cannot stave off the continual disasters all around and does not have the status and the required strength to make an international impact of any kind.
I am now 75 years old and those from 55 years onward will probably not be around to experience the horrific consequences that await the world of the future.
HOWEVER, what about the effects on our children and grandchildren in the future? The very thought makes me shudder…. and as I am writing this a temperature of 48.8 degrees Celsius has been registered in the small town of Floridia in the Syracuse Province – just 120 miles away from Malta. This is the highest-ever recorded temperature in Europe. It is being forecast they may even rise to 50 degrees Celsius.
MAMMA, MAMMA MIA!
“If I were to knock door-by-door, I will never find another you”
This is an expression that conveys deep love and admiration for another person.