The Mediterranean is Drying Out

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A recent map from the European Drought Observatory shows areas affected most by drought. (Image Credit: European Drought Observatory)

As most people in the Northern Hemisphere enjoy the cold leaving as spring approaches, people in the Mediterranean are feeling the heat. For years, the region has suffered with droughts, but their current situation is worse than most could’ve predicted.

            The drought has notably sent several areas into states of emergency. Agriculture, energy, transportation, and tourism industries have already felt the effects. People in Spain’s Catalonia have had their water extremely restricted as officials consider sending water to Barcelona via boat. Portugal’s hydroelectric energy is half the average of the last 7 years. Farmers in Sicily worry about their livestock; the grazing fields for their cows are barren, and storms in April/May turned their hay-making season to disaster.

            Many people first became aware of the impending drought in mid-2022 after watching rivers and soil dry up. Experts are calling it the worst drought to hit Europe in 500 years.

            Droughts and dry spells aren’t caused by any one thing, but human activity has been shown to contribute to their frequency and severity. Increasing greenhouse gases trap heat inside of Earth’s atmosphere, heating the air and ocean. Less moisture exposes the land and its inhabitants to the risk of forest fires.  High population densities can make water scarce, and an ill-prepared city can quickly fall victim to poor resource management. About 70% of Sicily is facing desertification, as the neglect their water infrastructure has suffered shows in this time of need.

            These extreme weather patterns aren’t just detrimental to the environment. The financial stability of these areas is at risk. Spanish bakers worry after increasingly strict water allowances take effect. Italian farmers wonder how they’ll feed their animals and nourish their crops. Many people and businesses in the Mediterranean rely on tourism, and the withering of the land could have a huge economic impact.

The Mediterranean isn’t the only place suffering. All continents are being affected by climate change. Antarctica is the only continent without drought, but as their ice melts, sea levels and public concern rise.

            What can we do to stop this? It starts with personal responsibility. We can all encourage each other to become more environmentally aware and advocate for climate-conscious public policy.

Written by Olivia Marant

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