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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
‘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.