In-Natura m’għandhiex vot

Infrastruttura Malta hi insensittiva għal dak kollu li għandu x’jaqsam mal-ekoloġija. Ittrasformat trejqiet fil-widien u madwarhom f’toroq wisgħin bl-użu ta’ volumi kbar ta’ konkos kif għamlet fil-Wied Tal-Isqof u Wied is-Sewda. Dan ser ikollu impatt negattiv konsiderevoli fuq l-ambjent rurali, fuq il-komunitajiet rurali u fuq il-pajsaġġ.
Dawn it-trejqiet li ġew ittrasformati f’toroq, issa, inevitabilment ser ikunu użati minn iktar traffiku: il-problemi tat-traffiku ser ikunu trasferiti miż-żoni urbani għall-kampanja.

Il-widien huma parti integrali mill-eko-sistema tagħna, b’rikkezzi kbar ta’ bijodiversità. In-natura, li timla kull rokna tal-kampanja tagħna hi taħt theddida kontinwa. Mhux Infrastruttura Malta biss hi responsabbli għal dan.

L-eko-sistema taħdem f’sintonia kważi perfetta, b’rabta sħiħa bejn kull fjura u jew insett u l-bqija tal-madwar. L-ekoloġija ma żżidx biss mal-kuluri tal-pajsaġġ tagħna, imma hi l-bażi essenzjali tal-ħajja innifisha. Permezz ta’ diversi organiżmi li jistkennu fil-kampanja u l-widien in-natura tipprovdi servizzi essenzjali għall-agrikultura.

In-natura mhix dekorazzjoni tajba biss għar-ritratti, videos jew pitturi. Mhix qegħda hemm biex niggustawha.

Sfortunatament qed ngħixu f’dinja li ftit li xejn tagħti kaz ta’ dak kollu li m’għandux valur espress fi flus. Din hi r-raġuni ewlenija għan-nuqqas ta’ ħafna li jifhmu u japprezzaw l-importanza tal-ekoloġija fil-ħajja ta’ kuljum. Uħud ma għandhom l-ebda idea li aħna ma ngħixux f’ekonomija imma niffurmaw parti integrali minn eko-sistema!

Fil-passat saru diversi attentati biex tiġi kkoreġuta din l-attitudni permezz ta’ studji li ippruvaw jikkwantifika il-valur ekonomiku tal-bijodiversità. Dan sar kemm fuq livell Ewropew kif ukoll minn pajjiżi individwali. Dawn l-istudji jesploraw u jippruvaw jikkwantifikaw kemm jiswa’ biex ikunu sostitwiti s-servizzi li n-natura tipprovdilna b’xejn għal erbgħa u għoxrin siegħa kuljum. L-ammont jitkejjel bil-biljuni.

Hemm ħtieġa li nifhmu li l-bniedem huwa dipendenti fuq is-servizzi li n-natura tipprovdilna l-ħin kollu bla ebda ħlas. Dawn jinkludu l-ilma, l-ħamrija u l-arja nadifa li qed isofru attakk frontali kontinwu minn dak li nsejħulu żvilupp.

Is-siġar qed jitqaċċtu biex jagħmlu l-wisgħa għall-kostruzzjoni bla rażan li għaddejja bħalissa. Dan jinkludi l-proġetti mhux meħtieġa ta’ toroq li qed iseħħu f’dan il-ħin.

Is-siġar huma rigal li tagħtina n-natura. Jagħtuna l-ossiġnu li mingħajru ma nieħdux nifs. Dan l-ossignu jipproduċuh billi jassorbu id-dijossidju tal-carbonju mill-atmosfera, u jżommu l-karbonju depositat fiz-zokk u l-friegħi tas-siġra. B’dan il-mod is-siġar jagħtuna żewġ servizzi essenzjali bla ħlas: l-ossiġnu biex nieħdu n-nifs u depożitu naturali għall-karbonju. Dawn is-servizzi huma l-alternattivi naturali għat-teknoloġija magħrufa bħala “carbon capture technology” li tiswa’ l-miljuni. In-natura tipprovdilna alternattiva u aħna din ninjorawha. Huwa servizz bla ħlas u allura mhuwiex apprezzat. It-tibdil fil-klima huwa (in-parti) riżultat ta’ diforestazzjoni fuq skala kbira, akkumulata tul is-snin.

Aħna niddependu fuq in-natura ferm iktar milli niddependu fuq l-ekonomija. Imma fil-waqt li ninkwetaw meta pajjiżna jiffaċċja żbilanċ finanzjarju, ħafna jinjoraw l-iżbilanċ ambjentali li qiegħed isir dejjem iktar agħar milli qatt kien. Li nindirizzaw dan l-iżbilanċ ambjentali huwa essenzjali qabel ma jkun tard wisq. Mhux kulħadd hu konxju li ħadd ma hu ser jagħmlilna tajjeb għal dan l-iżbilanċ. Ma hemm l-ebda bale-out għal dan l-iżbilanċ!

Għandna Ministru tal-Kabinet li hu responsabbli mill-Iżvilupp Sostenibbli. Sfortunatament, kif ngħidu, lanqas jaf x’laqtu! Bħala riżultat ta’ dan hu ovvju li hawn nuqqas ta’ strateġija ta’ sostenibilità fis-settur pubbliku kollu.

L-impatt ta’ dan kollu jinħass fit-tul. Ma jidher li hemm l-ebda għaġla, għax in-natura m’għandiex vot. Imma dawk minna li għandhom vot għandna responsabbiltà etika li naġixxu f’isimha. Dak li tagħmel Alternattiva Demokratika.

ippubblikat fuq Illum Il-Ħadd 10 ta’ Marzu 2019

Nature has no vote

Infrastructure Malta is insensitive to all sorts of ecological issues. It has transformed country lanes in and around valleys into quasi-highways through the indiscriminate use of large volumes of concrete, which will have a considerable negative impact on the rural environment, the rural communities and on the rural landscape.

These former country lanes will inevitably now be used by more traffic, moving traffic- related problems from the urban areas into our countryside.

Valleys are an integral part of our eco-system: so rich in biodiversity. Wildlife, so abundant in our valleys and countryside, is continuously under threat as a result of this insensitivity. But Infrastructure Malta is not the only culprit.

There is an intricate inter-relationship between the different constituent parts forming our eco-system. Ecology does not just add colour to our landscapes but it is the very foundation of life itself. Nature is not just a desirable decoration to be captured on photographs, videos or paintings. Through a multitude of organisms sheltering in our valleys and the countryside, nature provides essential services to our agriculture through the provision of shelter to pollinators.

Unfortunately, we live in a world which tends to ignore non-monetary value. This is the underlying reason for the general failure to appreciate the importance of ecology in our daily lives. In fact, to some it is incomprehensible that we live in an eco-system and not in an economy! In the past, in an effort to try and remedy this myopic approach, there has been an attempt to quantify the economic value of biodiversity. Various studies have been undertaken to quantify this value on both a European level as well as an individual country basis. These studies explore and try to quantify what it would cost to replace the services that nature provides free on a 24/7 basis. This cost is measured in billions of euros.

We need to understand that humankind is dependent on the eco-system services that is freely provided by nature. These include water, fertile soil and clean air – all of which are being meticulously ruined as a result of so-called “development”.

Trees are being chopped down to make way for the current building spree, including the large scale road infrastructural overhaul currently in hand.

Trees are a gift of nature. They give us oxygen, without which we cannot breathe. They produce this oxygen by absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide, retaining the carbon in the process. By doing this, trees give us two essential services free: oxygen to breathe and a natural deposit for carbon – what we refer to as a “carbon sink”. Trees are the natural alternative to carbon capture technology. Carbon capture technology – used as part of the technological response to climate change – costs millions to produce and operate. Yet we have a natural alternative which we continuously discard. It is a free service and hence it is not appreciated. Climate change is partly the result of large-scale deforestation accumulated over the years.

We are significantly more dependent on nature than on the size of our country’s GDP and yet while we worry when our country is faced with a financial deficit, many ignore the ever-increasing environmental deficit. Addressing this deficit is essential before it is too late. Not everyone is aware that no one will bale-us out.

We have a Cabinet Minister responsible for Sustainable Development who, unfortunately, he has no idea of his brief. As a result, a focused sustainability driven strategy is very obviously missing right through the Maltese public sector.

The resulting impacts from all this are long-term. There seems to be no hurry to act, because nature has no vote. Yet those of us who do have a vote also have an ethical responsibility to act on its behalf. It is what we do at Alternattiva Demokratika-the Green Party.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 10 March 2019

Lumija magħsura

L-għasir tal-lumi hu sustanzjuż u jagħmel ħafna ġid għas-saħħa. Imma xi ngħidu għal lumija magħsura?

Iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa awgurajt lit-Tabib Anthony Buttigieg wara li hu ħabbar d-deċiżjoni tiegħu li fi ħsiebu jikkontesta għat-tmexxija tal-Partit Demokratiku. Possibilment huwa jimla l-vakanza li nħolqot minn Marlene Farrugia wara li din iddeċidiet li ddabbar rasha wara biss ftit xhur fil-kariga.

It-Tabib Buttigieg hu persuna b’moħħu f’postu. L-għada tal-elezzjoni ġenerali, meta kellu ma wiċċu dikjarazzjoni ta’ Marlene Farrugia li hi ma kienitx teskludi li tikkontesta għall-kariga ta’ Kap tal-PN, wara li kien irriżenja Simon Busuttil, hu irriżenja mill-kariga ta’ deputat mexxej tal-PD. Bħala riżultat ta’ hekk ħa posizzjoni ċara li kienet tikkuntrasta mal-impulsivitá ta’ Marlene Farrugia. Dakinnhar Buttigieg kien iddikjara li dak li qalet Farrugia kien kontra dak li jemmen hu, għax fil-fehma tiegħu l-Partit Demokratiku kellu jkun separat u distint mill-Partit Nazzjonalista.

Bħala riżultat ta’ din il-posizzjoni huwa għamilha ċara illi d-disponibilitá tiegħu li jieħu sehem f’koalizzjoni ma kellha l-ebda impatt fuq id-determinazzjoni tiegħu li jħares l-identitá tal-partit tiegħu. Li tkun allejat kritiku abbażi ta’ programm politiku miftiehem bl-ebda mod mhu komparabbli ma min żviluppa attitudni li jilgħaq kontinwament.

Mid-dehra Marlene Farrugia taħsibha mod ieħor għax diġa għamlitha ċara illi għadha tal-ħsieb li fi żmien ħames snin mill-ġdid tikkunsidra li tikkontesta għat-tmexxija tal-PN. Għax skontha, l-ebda wieħed mill-erba’ kandidati għal Kap tal-PN mhu kapaċi. Dan kollu sfortunatament jibgħat messaġġ wieħed u ċar: li l-mexxejja attwali tal-Partit Demokratiku tara l-futur tagħha u tal-partit tagħha bħala parti integrali mill-Partit Nazzjonalista. Għal Marlene Farrugia il-Partit Demokratku qiesu lumija magħsura li tarmiha wara li tkun użajta.

Bħala riżultat tal-mauvri tagħha bl-iskop li tkun eletta, irrispettivament mill-prezz politiku, Marlene Farrugia ikkaġunat ħafna ħsara li teħtieġ li tkun rimedjata mingħajr iktar dewmien.

Alternattiva Demokratika ma jkollha l-ebda diffikulta li tesplora kif tista’ tikkoopera mal-Partit Demokratiku immexxi minn Anthony Buttigieg, liema eżerċizzju (fil-passat) kien abbandunat minħabba li l-impulsivitá kienet l-għodda ewlenija tat-tmexxija tal-PD sa mit-twaqqif tiegħu. Buttigieg hu persuna konsistenti u l-imġieba tiegħu tidher li taqbel ma dak li jgħid.

Hemm ħafna ħidma li teħtieġ li issir u ftit wisq nies biex jagħmluha.

Fost il-kollegi enerġiċi ta’ Anthony Buttigieg hemm Timothy Alden li hu l-moħħ wara l-inizzjattiva kurrenti tal-Partit Demokratiku biex jiżdied il-ħarsien tal-widien u tal-ilma tal-pjan billi possibilment ikunu nklużi fil-qafas legali li ġie żviluppat għad-dimanju pubbliku fil-Kodiċi Ċivili. Alternattiva Demokratika tappoġġa din l-inizzjattiva.

Hi inizjattiva li timmerita appoġġ wiesa’ avolja forsi strateġikament kien ikun aħjar li l-ewwel tkun implimentata sewwa l-politika u r-regolamenti eżistenti li diġa joffru protezzjoni sostanzjali kemm għall-widien kif ukoll għall-ilma tal-pjan.

Il-futur tal-partiti ż-żgħar hu dipendenti fuq il-kooperazzjoni u fuq kemm aħna kapaċi li ma nisparpaljawx r-riżorsi limitati li hawn. Dan ikun ferm aħjar mill-impulsivitá u n-narċissiżmu li għamel ħsara sostanzjali.

Il-lumi magħsur għandu użu. Imma m’għandux ħajja twila.

ipubblikat f’Illum : 20 t’Awwissu 2017

Snippets from AD’s electoral manifesto: (21) Biodiversity

buskett.02

The following extract is taken verbatim from Chapter 14 of AD’s Electoral Manifesto

Biodiversity.

Biodiversity is not exclusively concerned with bird protection but on our interaction with the eco-system.

Alternattiva Demokratika shall focus on the need for the complete cessation of spring hunting as well as in ensuring that Malta’s EU accession commitments on the halting of bird trapping are honoured.

It is necessary that zones identified for protection under the provisions of the EU Habitats Directive are well managed. In particular it is necessary that Il-Buskett is no longer considered and utilised as a garden. The status of Il-Buskett as a Special Area of Conservation should be respected, something which is currently ignored.

Valley protection is also necessary. This has to be done within the context of a clear and holistic plan to rehabilitate valleys in such a manner that their resident biodiversity is respected and invasive species introduced throughout the years are removed.

L-Estratt segwenti hu mehud kelma b’kelma mill-Kapitlu 14 tal-Manifest Elettorali ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika

Bijodiversità.

Il-bijodiversità mhix kif inħarsu lejn l-għasafar u l-ħarsien tagħhom biss iżda dwar l-interazzjoni tagħna mal-ekosistema.

Alternattiva Demokratika taħdem biex tkun eliminata darba għal dejjem il-kaċċa tal-għasafar fir-rebbiegħa kif ukoll biex l-obbligi li Malta assumiet bis-sħubija fl-Unjoni Ewropea li l-insib spiċċa darba għal dejjem ikun onorat.

Huwa neċessarju li jkun mħarsa sewwa iż-żoni li Malta identifikat għall-protezzjoni taħt il-provedimenti tad-Direttiva tal UE dwar il-habitats. Fost oħrajn wasal iż-żmien li l-Buskett ma jibqax meqjus bħal ġnien u ma jibqax ikun sfruttat bħala tali. L-istatus tal-Buskett ta’ Żona Speċjali ta’ Konservazzjoni huwa meħtieġ illi jiġi osservat, ħaġa li fil-preżentement mhix issir.

Huwa neċessarju ukoll illi l-widien ikunu mħarsa. Dan għandu jsir billi fil-kuntest ta’ pjan ċar u olistiku jkunu riabilitati l-widien b’mod li tkun rispettata l-bijodiversità ta’ ġo fihom u jkunu ukoll eliminati l-ispeċi invażivi li ġew introdotti tul is-snin.

Sustainable water policy required

rainwater harvesting

Malta needs a sustainable water policy that is implemented rather than just being talked about.

A sustainable water policy has a long-term view. Addressing today’s needs, it keeps in focus the requirements of future generations. It would protect all our sources of water while ensuring that this basic resource is valued as an essential prerequisite for life. Without water, life does not exist. With poor quality water or with depleted water resources we are faced with an inferior quality of life.

Measures to protect the water table are being implemented at a snail’s pace and risk being in place only when there is nothing left to protect. The number of metered boreholes is too little. The electronic tracking of water bowsers transporting ground water is stalled.

Alternattiva Demokratika considers that national institutions have been ineffective as the handling of groundwater is still a free for all.

Rainwater harvesting has been neglected for a long time. Building development, large and small, has ignored rainwater harvesting obligations. These obligations have been in place on a national level for over 130 years. However, they are more honoured in the breach.

Many residential units constructed in the past 40 years have no water cisterns. Consequently, rainwater is discharged onto our streets or directly into the public sewers. Flooding of streets and overflowing sewers are the result.

The Government has decided to tackle this by applying public funds to a problem created mostly by private developers. Through the storm water relief projects funded primarily by the European Union, the Government will, in effect, exempt the culprits. Instead of the polluter pays it will be the (European) taxpayers who will pay, thereby exempting the polluter from his responsibilities!

The developers have pocketed the profits while the taxpayer will foot the bill. This is the result of successive governments lacking the political will to penalise the culprits.

In addition, rainwater discharged into the public sewer is overloading the three sewage purification plants now in operation and, consequently, increasing their operating costs during the rainy season. These increased costs are shouldered by all of us, partly as an integral part of our water bills and the rest gobbling up state subsidies to the Water Services Corporation. This is due to the fact that water bills are a reflection of the operating costs of the WSC, which include the management of the public sewer and its contents!

Storm water plays havoc with residential areas, especially those constructed in low lying areas or valleys carved by nature for its own use and taken over by development throughout the years! Overdevelopment means that land through which the water table recharged naturally was reduced considerably throughout the past 40 years. Instead, storm water now gushes through areas with heavy concentrations of nitrates which end up charging the aquifer. A report by the British Geological Society has identified a 40-year cycle as a result of which it would take about 40 years of adherence to the EU Nitrates Directive to give back a clean bill of health to Malta’s water table.

Treated sewage effluent is being discharged into the sea. Being treated means that, for the first time in many years, our bathing waters are up to standard. But it also means that we are discharging into the sea millions of litres of treated sewage effluent that, with proper planning, could have been used as an additional water source for a multitude of uses. Instead, it is being discarded as waste.

After the sewage treatment plants were commissioned as an end-of-pipe solution at the far ends of the public sewer, the authorities started having second thoughts on the possible uses of treated sewage effluent. At this late stage, however, this signifies that means of transporting the treated sewage to the point of use have to be identified (at a substantial cost) when the issue could have been solved at the drawing board by siting a number of small treatment plants at points of use.

This could obviously not be done as the Government has no idea of what sustainable development is about. The Government led by Lawrence Gonzi excels in speaking on sustainable development, yet, he has failed miserably in embedding it in his Government’s method of operation.

I have not forgotten the speech from the throne read on May 10, 2008, by President Eddie Fenech Adami, on behalf of the Government, outlining the objectives of the legislature that is fast approaching its last days. The President had then stated: “The Government’s plans and actions are to be underpinned by the notion of sustainable development of the economy, of society and of the environment. When making decisions today, serious consideration will be given to the generations of tomorrow.”

In water policy, the Nationalist-led Government has failed miserably. The mess that it leaves behind is clear proof that during the past 25 years it has taken decisions that have completely ignored tomorrow’s generations.

published in The Times of Malta, December 1, 2012

The accumulated cost of incompetence

After last Monday’s storm the usual comments were read and heard: the damage sustained, the cost to the insurers, the cleaning operations, the near misses.

There was no comment on the real culprit for a substantial part of the damage.

No one commented on the excessive building development taking over agricultural land over the years. No one commented on the building in and along valleys. No one commented on the lack of water cisterns in residential units which although a legal requirement since 1881 is more honoured in the breach.

Who is responsible for all this?

Successive governments and the public administration in the last 50 years is responsible for this mess. It is in fact the cost of incompetence.

The storm would have happened anyway, but :

If all residential units are provided with rainwater cisterns there would certainly be less stormwater gushing around in the streets. Certainly no overflowing sewers as still happens in a number of localities.

If less building development was permitted over the years there would be more land available for the recharge of the aquifer.  We would also have substantially less vacant dwellings

If rubble walls along valleys are properly and regularly maintained there would be less obstruction to the natural flow of water.

If  no dumping of waste occurs in valleys, there would be less obstruction to the natural flow of storm water.

But this has not been so.  Hence the scale of the damage.

The damage caused by last Monday’s storm is the accumulated cost of incompetence.

 

published at di-ve.com on 7 September 2012