'When Eladio Sánchez Egea returned home one evening in April 2020, after
working another long day in the field, he found his 11-year-old son agitated.
At school that day, the boy had been told the agricultural industry was
responsible for polluting the waters of Mar Menor, Europe's largest coastal
saltwater lagoon which borders the Mediterranean Sea in the Iberian Peninsula,
in southeastern Spain. "This is your fault, you are responsible for destroying
our home," the boy told Egea, who works as an organic farmer. Egea was upset,
although not at his son. "I was angry at how people perceive us farmers," he
recalls. "Everyone blames us for the pollution in Mar Menor instead of assuming
Over the past four decades, the Mar Menor has faced severe contamination from
an excess of nitrate and phosphate, chemicals typically found in the
fertilisers used in the neighbouring Campo de Cartagena, the largest
agricultural croplands in the region. This contamination has led to several
ecological collapses, pushing endemic species, such as the Spanish toothcarp,
or Iberian killifish, to the brink of extinction. After decades of inaction and
scientific warnings, local authorities have slowly been introducing both
restoration and prevention measures in the hopes of saving the lagoon.
These steps either deal with the consequences of the pollution, for instance,
organising cleaning efforts to fish out the algae from the lagoon.
Alternatively they can directly target the source of the pollution. This can
include legislation limiting the use of inorganic fertilisers, directing
farmers to plant hedges that act as natural barriers reducing the flow of
nutrients and prevent soil erosion, and clamping down on illegally irrigated
lands to regulate the use of water for agricultural purposes. But despite a
recent improvement of the lagoon's ecosystem, experts warn that this may be
short-lived, and more drastic action is needed to reverse the damage.'
Via Future Crunch
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics