Velilla de San Antonio, SPAIN – As one of the European countries suffering most from the effects of climate change, Spain once again facing a big drought.
Lack of water in this country has always been a problem. While in 1749 – the first year there is data about when the drought started in Spain – there was a huge famine and major rivers were without a single drop of water.
Now, in the 21st century, the problem has much worse, and it looks like there aren’t any solutions from the government.
2023 is breaking all weather records, and this is mainly because the heat started much earlier than expected.
In some regions, especially in the South, the drought appeared before last summer and continued, mostly, until April this year. This situation is dramatic because in those areas, agriculture – the main source of income for many people – is critically important.
Another place that for years has been suffering the consequences of the drought is Murcia. This small region, located in the south, is famous for its vegetables.
The environmentalists say action must be taken. The drought is linked to global warming, and environmental activists know we must take action to reverse the situation. Each year, they sound the alarm and ask for action, and yet it seems that nothing has changed.
For conservationist Enoch Martínez, who specializes in environmental consultancy, training and communication, the solution must come from each individual.
“Everyone can decide whether they want to do their bit or not. Governments, companies and people have a responsibility and they have to decide whether they want to contribute or not to climate change,” Martínez said.
Companies are selling their customers on the idea that they have a positive impact on the environment when the reality is the opposite, according to Martínez.
This technique, called ‘greenwashing,’ is used every day by many different companies.
“It’s a marketing strategy, so as society demands these environmentally sustainable products, companies simply try to sell them. The effective solution, in my view, is going to come to us legally in terms of regulations,” said Martinez.
Martinez is looking forward to a possible European Union law that will seek to punish companies that lie about the sustainability of the products they sell.
“A European directive is about to be drafted, called The Green Claims, which aims to eliminate misleading environmental messaging across EU markets,” Martinez said.
It rained, but it wasn’t enough
After Spain’s agricultural sector experienced one of its worst years economically due to the drought, the rain finally came at the beginning of May.
It rained heavily and intensively in some areas. Unfortunately, that quantity of water was not enough to irrigate the fields and now, in July, when the world has broken records for two consecutives days of the hottest temperatures, Spain’s reservoirs remain dry.
According to data from embalses.net, a website that tracks the level of water in the Spanish reservoirs, in the regions of Asturias and Galicia the water level in the reservoirs is at more than 50 %, while in the in the South, the situation is critical, with levels well below 40% and in some cases as low as 26%.
Europe is preparing to face another year of stifling heat waves and temperatures. A lack of water will be common.
Not only are droughts becoming more common in Spain, but other European countries are suffering from them, too.
France, Italy and the United Kingdom experienced the impact of the lack of water.
But they have not suffered as severely as Spain, which is witnessing the desertification of most of its territory. That means the land is degraded in dry areas, a phenomenon that is intensifying with each passing year in which no solution is found.
If it hasn’t rained by the end of the summer or the beginning of autumn, the situation in Spain could be twice as critical as it is now.
Not only is the lack of water causing the loss of thousands of euros, but intensive irrigation is not helping to solve the problem.
The region of Andalusia, and more specifically, the province of Huelva, is hardest hit by the drought. Earlier this year, the right-wing regional government tried to pass a law which would allow farmers to extract water from Doñana’s Natural Park, one of Spain’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Those on the left and environmentalists are critical of this proposed law, saying that if adopted the situation will only get worse.
Although the law was passed as a matter of urgency in April, it won’t take effect until after the July 23 national elections.
David Carmena is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.