PAU VALVERDE IS A POTTER BY PROFESSION BUT A CONVINCED ACTIVIST. HE’S A MEMBER OF THE ASSOCIATION «FUERTEVENTURA SOSTENIBLE» AND «PLATAFORMA POR UN NUEVO MODELO ENERGÉTICO». HE’S ALSO A SPOKESPERSON OF «FUERTEVENTURA POR EL CLIMA», A SOCIAL MOVEMENT FIGHTING TO STOP THE CLIMATE CRISIS WHICH IS SWEEPING THE GLOBE.
By Eloy Vera
How does Fuerteventura por el Clima arise?
It stems from the call for The Global Climate Strike on September 27th. We’ve been working on this issue for months. It was an attempt to unite associations and individuals and also to raise people’s awareness. It’s made up by six associations and also by people who aren’t members of them.
How can the Climate crisis affect Fuerteventura?
It’s already affecting us. For example, regarding the beaches they are doomed to disappear due to the rising sea levels. The tide will drag the sand and we’ll lose the beaches. The rising sea levels will mean aquifers will become saltier and a very important water resource will be lost. Also, as the temperature increases in the European northern countries, tourists won’t see so much need to come to the Canary Islands in search of the sun and good weather. We’re already noticing it as in Germany or England the Winter is becoming warmer and they don’t come so much now. On the other hand, hotter weather makes agriculture and livestock suffer, as it rains less. This means plagues for agriculture and diseases for animals, mainly goats, which have to adapt to a new situation.
You speak about beaches disappearing, how can this situation affect the tourism industry?
Tourists come because they’ve always been attracted to these beaches, so if there’s no sand and beaches tourists simply won’t come.
How will desertification affect the island?
The rise of temperatures makes it more difficult for plants. As it rains less and there’s less humidity in the environment the vegetation in the island decreases. To this we must add the uncontrolled grazing by coastal goats, which causes erosion and makes desertification increase, as they devour everything. What with one thing and the other, the island is bound to become even more desert.
Can the Climate crisis make The Canary Islands become a shelter for climate refugees, bearing in mind that the population of Africa is already feeling the ravages of the weather?
In the long run, it could. Actually, there are already migratory movement due to weather. This is happening in Senegal due to overfishing. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the fact of losing lands and harvests due to the high temperatures make more immigrants come, also because the Canary Islands are an entry to Europe. In the long run, we’ll also migrate, as our economy depends mainly on tourism. In a medium and long term, tourism will decrease a lot and then we’ll have to think of how we’ll get ready for that migration.
How is the tourism industry affecting the climate crisis?
It’s affecting a lot! Most tourists come by plane, and planes are great sources of CO2 emissions. Cruisers are a disaster, as they burn the worst fuel and the most polluting one, causing sulphur and CO2 emissions. Tourists are predators per se, as they consume lots of water, and much food coming to Fuerteventura comes by ship, which also increases the climate crisis.
What role is the administration from Fuerteventura playing in the fight against the climate crisis?
None whatsoever. The problem is that between the speech and the action there is a huge gap. They make political speeches devoid of content, but when it comes to acting they don’t do anything. They just think in the short run and this is one of the problems of democracy as it is nowadays. They just think for a period of four years. The issue of the climate crisis must be dealt with in a medium and long term. But these actions don’t give election results. They’re so irresponsible that they do nothing.
And what must politicians do?
To think in a medium and long term, not to be selfish, not to think of seats but of actions. In the case of Fuerteventura the scarcity of rain must be reverted as much as possible. And this can be achieved by reforesting the summits and making the most of the mist, as we are experts in this. It will come a day when trees, having grown up, will trap the mist thus condensing into water. That water will go to aquifers and this will allow a natural process of reforestation. We should plant millions of trees to, on the one hand, recover sweet water in aquifers, and on the other hand to get food and resources for the island.
What can the citizens do to save the planet?
Rather than to save the planet, to save themselves. The planet will save itself. When we overstep the mark, it’ll chase us out. We mustn’t stop thinking that we’re just one more species and if we act like a plague we’ll die as such. The planet has self-control systems, but to save humanity we must reduce energetic consumption a lot and this means a reduction in the consumption of everything. We must completely change our life styles. We must become much simpler.
Then, is the moment to go back to the primary sector…
Yes. Beyond the climate crisis, we must turn to agriculture, also for a survival question. We import the 95% of the food we consume. Up to now, we’ve managed to import it because the fossil fuels were very cheap but, at any moment, a geopolitical crisis could arise and then oil prices would increase so all the food would be much more expensive. We must turn to agriculture and a livestock that isn’t predator, just for the sake of survival.
Fuerteventura is also a land of military manoeuvres. This human action brings about problems in the ´degradation of the island and the climate crisis…
We must remember that some years ago there were some NATO manoeuvres where they organized sonars and a lot of beaked whales died. This happened due to the military use of the waters of Fuerteventura. Soldiers also destroy the environment when performing manoeuvres. They erode the ground and don’t respect agricultural properties. They also camp wherever they feel like to and every time they set off explosives in the firing range they destroy the environment, let alone all the CO2 emissions from their military cars and planes.
What would you say to those people who deny we are immerse in a climate crisis?
That they’re taking too long to accept reality. Behind denial of climate crisis there’re spurious and economic interests, mainly oil. They don’t want to stop earning money whatever the cost, even that of biodiversity. Those people are doing themselves a huge disservice. Denying it verges on the absurd.