Europe is running out of water

claudia luna palencia agua

We are going to need a lot of science and intelligence not to succumb to climate change, this extreme phenomenon, which gets worse with every season of the year, and yet there are people like Donald Trump with political decision-making power and economic and business influence who deny its existence.

Climate change is already being politically manipulated and has become a currency of blackmail between powers: recently, China, in response to the crisis unleashed by Taiwan, decided to break its cooperation ties with the United States in the areas of justice, military affairs and, of course, climate change, following a visit by Nancy Pelosi.

The two largest emitters of CO2 in the world, China and the United States, have a bogged down dialogue on such a highly sensitive issue, as if it were not a priority. According to Clima Trade, China emits an average of 10,065 million tonnes of carbon per year, while the United States emits 5,416 million tonnes of the same gas.

The military dominates the picture because it partly mobilises the economic and business interests of large and powerful corporations such as Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin Corporation, BAE Systems, Boeing and Raytheon.  Climate change, this green consciousness, has not yet taken off in a world population that is immersed in solving its daily problems and that responds to the environment to the extent that the regulations around it oblige it to take a more responsible stance.

And in between, what cannot be hidden or denied is that weather phenomena and climate are getting worse. While in Mexico there are impressive downpours causing severe flooding, a few days ago in the United States, Death Valley National Park experienced an extremely heavy downpour that in three hours unloaded the equivalent of a year's worth of rain.

In Europe, heat, extreme drought and forest fires - some caused by the same dry undergrowth and others set by arson - have plunged the continent into a literally hellish summer with cities from the north to the south averaging temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius. Humans, vegetation and animals are suffering.

Everything has worked against them: the drought is keeping water tables at 39.2 per cent, the lowest level since 1995. In Spain, there are already several cities with water restrictions and rationing with autonomous communities affected such as Galicia, Andalusia and Catalonia.  In Galicia, the municipalities of Pontecaldelas, Poio, Bueu and Sanxenxo, among others, have had water cuts at the taps for days, which could extend to night-time cuts. But there are other municipalities also affected in the interior of Orense.

The same situation in Catalonia with water limitations in 150 municipalities and in Andalusia, the reservoirs are at 30% of their capacity; the situation is dramatic with restrictions on water consumption from Huelva to Cordoba; and in Malaga, the Viñuela reservoir is at 12% of its capacity.

If the future of the climate in Spain will leave, as experts are warning for the Mediterranean region, either very hot or very cold, it is necessary to take urgent action to prevent and mitigate.

Actions as a country and as part of the European Union (EU) require a lot of will. If the 27 members of the European club can agree to cut dependence on Russian gas and oil, they can also do so not only to accelerate the transition to zero emissions, but also to take care of the supply of water, the vital liquid, whose deficiency and availability this summer has not only Spain up against the wall, but also France and even Germany report that their river flows are very low.

On the subject

The so-called famine stones (placed in various rivers in the 15th-17th centuries) to warn of low flows have been seen again in the rivers Elbe and Rhine. Parts of them could be closed to navigation in view of the unusual situation.

Decisions in Europe should be taken more quickly. The outlook is uncertain and the public is only taking the decisions of their respective authorities: autumn and winter, with electricity rationing and in some parts with water rationing.

The availability of resources has always been limited in Europe, hence its historical impetus to go out to the ocean in search of diversification and dominance.

But that was the past, the future does not look good. Science and technology must be pushed to find the vaccine that will prevent a water shortage tragedy on a continent desperate to reduce its vulnerabilities. Climate change is here to stay and must be fought with resilience and ingenuity.

If environmental alterations will lead society to acquire new habits, the population must be an active part of the actions to prevent and mitigate. If not, all will be lost.