9 Shocking Facts From Maltese Book No Man’s Land: People Place Pollution

Sometimes there's no telling if the country is moving forwards or back to the Stone Age...


They blitzed through 240 pages, 233 cartoons and some 200 references to come up with the tragic-comic exposition of pollution in the book No Man’s Land: People Place Pollution.

Going through decades of history, environmental economist Marie Briguglio and cartoonist Steve Bonello highlight a shocking fact per chapter on people polluting public spaces in Malta. Here's what they came up with.

1. The Tragedy of the Commons

This is the peculiar phenomenon of the self-appointed car-park attendants who have enterprisingly introduced a ‘donation’ scheme which they themselves pocket, of course.

Lm Parker

2. The car is the king of the road

The combined shoreline of the three islands is less than 200km. And yet, the Maltese are the Europeans least likely to walk or cycle anywhere and the most likely to get in their cars and drive.

Lm It Only Feels Thatw Way

3. We're reviving the Stone Age

According to the United Nations, around 95% of the land area of the Maltese Islands is now an urban area. And the Maltese that build new blocks in place of houses are the same Maltese who repeatedly flag overbuilding (by others, of course) as a problem.

Lm Sliema School Children

4. Afforestation occurs more than we can remember

In 2007 3,000 pine trees forming part of an afforestation project were destroyed. Environmental groups received various threats and acts of vandalism; and journalists were physically attacked and verbally abused by camouflage-clad hunters, armed with beer bottles, nets, cages and even the odd shotgun.

Lm King Of The Secondary Road

5. Fireworks in Malta are an issue

Malta’s estimated rate of fireworks-related accidents is by far the highest rate in the Mediterranean region while pollution from perchlorate (the chemical in fireworks) is the highest recorded anywhere on Earth.

Lm Banda Murtali

6. And so is air pollution

Malta’s climate emissions (like the cars that produce them) continue to be among the fastest growing per capita in the EU.

Bet you wouldn’t even guess that it was Malta itself whose appeals eventually led to the very Climate Change Convention of the United Nations.

Lm Climate Change

7. Maltese people want more environmental laws

There is plenty to suggest that the Maltese crave a better environment and are twice as likely as the average European to want stronger enforcement of the existing environmental legislation.

Lm Ghoqda

8. There's not much space left

The population of Malta is still rising and set to reach unprecedented levels. The next question is, how are we all going to fit?

Lm Move Back

9. We're small but mighty

Malta is so tiny that on most printed maps a mere dot over-represents its size. Nonetheless, its rich natural heritage teems with life in vivid colours against a backdrop of blue sea and sky.

Lm Lovely Sunset

‘No Man’s Land: People Place Pollution’ is published by Kite Group. In one example after the other of the tragedy of the commons, the cartoons and narrative jointly reveal the compulsive construction, the love affair with cars, the suspicion of nature and the lacklustre law enforcement, in the context of a beautiful yet very densely populated little island.

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Written By

Becca Bonello Ghio

Becca's a quadruplet that's into poetry, people, and politics. Give her some nutritious food and tell her a sarcastic joke and she'll become your friend for life. Or just contact her at [email protected]