As published on the Malta Today on Wednesday 21st May 2014
Our elected leaders constantly remind us of our duty to conserve water¸ stating that gone are the old days when water was supplied for free. It was eight years ago that FAO warned us that water scarcity is turning into a major problem. In its 2006 Review it stated: “Malta’s core water challenge is one of water governance.
“Tough decisions will have to be made immediately if the environmental sustainability of Malta’s aquifer systems is to be achieved. Decision making is currently fragmented¸ policies are poorly aligned¸ and awareness of the consequences of continued mismanagement of the sea-level aquifers is poor”.
This looks like a sober warning to the government of the day that further depletion of water from the aquifers is potentially leading to higher salinity. Naturally the illegal extraction of water by farmers is ongoing but the main culprits are industry¸ especially the beverages and minerals producers. Tourism is also a heavy user due to our success in attracting more visitors especially during summer – this has continued to exacerbate the problem.
The potential impact of climate change on the environment and socio-economic systems in terms of sensitivity¸ adaptability and vulnerability of such factors also impact our island habitat. Based on a recent scientific report¸ it stresses the magnitude and the rate of climate change that may directly impinge on the industrial¸ commercial and tourist sectors in Malta.
Although much progress has been made to improve both air and water quality¸ there are still large uncertainties in predicting regional climate changes but one thing is certain – climate change leads to higher temperatures and the possible erosion of our few sandy beaches. As can be expected¸ its impact will reflect on the vulnerability of our ecological system as an island so dependent on tourism.
Global warming is real and to quote one example¸ this has raised the temperature in the Canadian Arctic by 4C in the past 50 years. Scientific reports state the example of Hudson Bay¸ where the ice melts completely in summer¸ scientists have noted that due to global warming¸ it is now happening three weeks earlier than normal.
Closer to home¸ we turn a blind eye to the irreversible damage to climate when we allow emissions from power stations¸ heavy transport vehicles and the hospital incinerator to go unchecked in a densely