Spain is Turning into a Desert
The bad news from various parts of Europe keeps coming in. I note there are cries about large areas of Spain turning into desert.
The thing is, this is not new. I lived in Spain almost continuously during the eighties. At the time, in and around Calpe on the east coast there was a ruling that you could not get permission to build a house unless you could prove you had your own water.
Almeria has been a desert area for as long as I can remember. One christmas time way back when I was a teenager we were driving through the area and the place was parched. We could find nowhere to pitch a tent. The ground was either rock, or rock-hard ground through lack of rain.
In the eighties there were calls for a canal to be constructed to bring water from the Ebro up in Catalunya all the way down to the south to relieve the problem. Naturally the Catalonians protested loudly, which was just as well because apparently the Ebro is now beginning to dry up as well. At the time the acquafers in Almeria only had enough water to last for about five years.
The real problem with the area is that it is the centre for industrial farming under plastic, which uses a lot of water which has to be piped in. Oddly, when I was there in the nineties the weather just rained and rained, so presumably there was a boost to the ground water supplies. However, that has now been largely used and the whole area is threatened with the return to desert conditions.
Almeria has also been traditionally the cheap area to buy houses in Spain. I do not advise a move to that part of the world. Cheap it may be, but the climate is not very nice. It’s hot, dry, and at times very uncomfortable. It is also hardly picturesque, and the build quality is cheap and shoddy.
I dont know whether the dryness is part of a general trend spreading from Northern Africa. Of course, the south Mediterranean coast along North Africa was traditionally Rome’s granary. It was where pensioned off soldiers retired to during the period of the empire.
I once took a trip across that zone. We started with a visit to Volubilis in Western Morocco, and drove steadily east, driving through a minefield dividing Morocco and Algeria, struggling with the street names in Algiers, where every street had at least three names, and camping in the various ruined roman towns along the way, from Timgad to El Gem, and many others. It was a fascinating trip, seeing the structure of the cities, the deep chariot wheel ruts in the main streets, and the barren surrounding land which once had been so green and fruitful. Yes, these changes in climate have always been with us, and global warming has certainly been with us for the last 7,000 years, when the last ice age started retreating.
I must dig out a story I wrote about our trip, which sadly came to an end in Tunisia at the Libyan embassy. That in itself was quite a story, with people camping in the gardens, and people on the roof trying to take the tiles off to get inside. Colonel Gadhafi wouldn’t give us a visa to enter Lybia, so we got stuck in Tunisia, living for a while in Carthage on the roof of the museum, which overlooked president Bourghiba’s palace. — Very pleasant days, occasionally motoring up to Sidi Bou Said, a charming village right on that nodule of Tunisia sticking out into the Med, where we listened to the most amazing local brass band playing in the evenings.
There are the occasional oases at various odd spots in the Sahara, including one we visited right down in Tamanrasset, in southern Algeria. We even got stopped by rain, and had to get out of the van and scrape it off the windscreen. It came down as some sort of gum with fine grains of sand embedded in it. But the modern reality is that there is almost non-stop desert from the Arabian gulf all the way to what used to be Spanish Sahara.
Here’s a pic from my last visit there.
But I digress. But if you like my digressions please say so and I’ll add more. I have an endless supply of stories and experiences.
Unfortunately, where I currently live, in the Algarve, we are also experiencing significant changes in the weather patterns, leading to a much drier climate. If things get any drier we too will be in a desert.