Natural World and Malta’s Dysfunctional Relationship

In Malta our relationship with the natural world is, to use kind words, disconnected from reality. We choose to exploit our corner of the natural world rather than listen to what nature’s life support system is telling us. We encourage a poverty stricken mentality that chooses to grab and ruin rather than understand and value. Unwittingly or otherwise, we vote in MEPs and a House of Representatives who, at best, have a poor understanding of how we are all inextricably tied in with the Earth’s ecosystems and, at worst, simply do not care if future Maltese generations inherit a dead zone – a concrete jungle surrounded by a dead and empty sea under toxic and empty skies.

Image of rubbish dumped in country side - Malta and the Natural World

Green political spin is meaningless unless there is urgent and permanent change on the ground. Action is what is needed. Studies, conferences and committees are used as strategies to buy time and waste tax payer’s money. What is wrong is obvious even to a child and we could fix it overnight if we wanted to. Truly every country has the public governance it deserves.

Our secular leaders attempt to keep us as children, believing in fantasies and half truths that downplay how enormously important the natural world is to us. We are kept distracted by relentless political bickering, whilst a mass extinction of species is underway across the planet.  It is humans that are slaughtering entire species, degrading and destroying natural land and marine habitats. These are the very land and marine habitats that have for millions of years created the pure air and pristine water that are vital for us to live. All of us, and the foreigners in our country, are contributing to this wholesale global devastation.

Humans have directly or indirectly killed 90% of all land animals larger than a rabbit and 90% of large fish in the oceans and seas larger than a ‘lampuka’. By an odd 30 years time we will have so over-fished and polluted the seas and oceans that there will no longer be any fish species in sustainable numbers left.  Species are becoming extinct 100 times faster than they would without the human impact. Populations of wild animals have more than halved since 1970. By the end of the second half of this century half the land and marine species will be extinct – extinction is forever – no more elephants, rhinos, giraffes, whales, tigers, lions, dolphins or bird migrations – empty seas, empty skies and empty lives – try explaining this to your children and grand children.

All natural land in Malta is under severe threat of development. We do our best to ensure that any birds that migrate over Malta never make it back home. We live in a dirty, polluted, overpopulated country located in what appears to be one of the Mediterranean’s plastic garbage patches.

Image of road jammed with cars - Malta and the Natural World

The arrogance we display with regards to the natural world and all other species, we also display with each other. We are deliberately trashing Maltese societal norms and values born of the suffering of our forefathers. We are belittling the traditional family bonds that are the backbone of our society. We have outlawed the terms ‘mother’ and ‘father’ – by consequence also ‘daughters’ and ‘sons’ – and all that these terms stand for. A vile attempt is underway to industrialise the creation of human life, that which symbolises like nothing else the bond between a man and a woman. We are losing the glue that made us a nation. We are on the way to losing much, much more.

The mothers and fathers that nurture the families that make up local communities around the world are the guardians of all that is good and wholesome in people. Local communities are built on norms and trust that have evolved over centuries of living together through the good and the bad times. Local communities intuitively understand the need to protect the natural world for the benefit of future generations.

Our Maltese community exists in a symbiotic relationship with our environment. It is not therefore by accident that this drive to trivialise family values and dilute the Maltese community is happening at the same time as the accelerated destruction of the environment on land and in the sea around us. A community and its environment stand together – they also have common enemies.

This is not a partisan issue. Since 1964 we have plundered this rock of a country for selfish gain. What we are witnessing today is the consequence of all our actions since that day on the 21st of September, 54 years ago. We are not a democratic people. In our country the elected winner takes all and has absolute power. We are ruled by minority marginal voters and foreign parliamentarians. If you thought that voting for the lesser of two evils was a viable strategy, think again. Without a true democracy based on community, trust and a collaborative relationship with the natural world, we are a displaced people, living in a broken country.

Image of dead turtle doves and shotgun cartridges - Malta and the Natural World

The Earth has existed for more than four billion years and has sustained life for three billion. Human beings have existed for only about 200,000 years, yet our impact on the planet is so great that scientists are calling for our period in the Earth’s history to be named ‘the Anthropocene‘ – the age of humans. Our actions are turning life giving forests and oceans into dead zones and this has already diminished the planet’s ability to provide for us all. Without humans the Earth would have continued within the relatively benign Holocene age for another 50,000 years – imagine that – this is the extent to which we have screwed up.

Only five times before in our planet’s history have so many species and so much biodiversity been lost so quickly. The fifth was when the dinosaurs were wiped out. That is why scientists and conservationists call what is happening now the ‘sixth mass extinction’. In a report published in July 2017, some went further to describe the loss of biodiversity today as ‘biological annihilation’.

Do we really want to turn Malta into a city state with no natural places left? Do we really want to live in the middle of an empty polluted sea looking at empty skies, instead of with pods of dolphins and whales and flocks of migrating birds, reminding us that we are not alone on this planet? What is the meaning of our life, when our grandchildren have only us to blame for degrading the life support system that nature provides us with and for killing most other species?

Image of construction site - Malta and the Natural World

To say that a country has a sustainable economic and social strategy whilst at the same time implementing a policy of indiscriminate economic growth is a deception of the highest order. Indiscriminate growth erodes the social fabric of the community, kills marine and animal species to extinction and destroys and pollutes our life supporting habitats. There can be no sustainability without public and private governance that values, protects and restores that which we share in common with all other species – the inter-related and interdependent planetary ecosystems – the biosphere.

Article published in the Sunday Times of Malta, 1st July 2018