The new ‘Mediterranean diet’: prickly-pear cacti and Miner’s lettuce

From today’s Guardian:

Over-heated Med stokes tourism fears

As temperatures in southern Europe reach record heights, traditional holiday playgrounds may soon become unbearably hot and dangerously dry.

Temperatures are likely to reach 43C in the shade this week, making this the hottest summer on record for Greece in the past century. Macedonia has declared a state of emergency. Spain, Italy and France are experiencing droughts that are measuring up to become the worst on record.

Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Cyprus have all endured searing temperatures over the past few weeks as a region of high pressure extended east from the Azores, blocking weather fronts that normally keep the eastern Mediterranean fairly cool at this time of year. Forest fires have been raging across the region – Greece’s fire service reported 115 fires in one 24-hour period last week.

Last week a five-day blaze on Mount Parnitha destroyed vast tracts of trees, along with hundreds of plants endemic to the region. Unique species of deer, turtles, snakes and hares were killed.

But to come to the point:

Despite the extreme heat, the Greek Tourism Ministry said the country was braced for its third successive bumper tourist season, with Britons, who begin arriving en masse this weekend, expected to lead an estimated 15 million visitors this year.

But the industry is deeply worried. The Mediterranean’s worsening pollution and shifting weather patterns may start to drive away tourists.

Ah. For some, converting climate change/global warming to money is easier than others. Amusingly enough, the army of Brits travelling to the Greek Isles will of course pump tonnes of CO2 into the air on their way in and out. I used the example of Rome or London being able to tax that tourism to address their pollution problems (dirty buildings and monuments), however that avenue is not open to Greece.

Mention in the Guardian article of a recent book by Michel Houellebecq about post-environmental-change savagery reminded me of the very good The Drowned World, by JG Ballard. Earth Abides, by George R Stewart is another good one. They impress particularly because of when they were published (1962 and 1949, respectively. Houellebecq’s was quite recent).

Europe’s problem’s are worse than mere climate change and increasing sea temperatures (as though those weren’t enough). Desertification, and sand and heat blown north from Africa, are on the horizon. As an encroaching Sahara just plain runs out of continential Africa, its sandy, desert winds blow up through the South of Europe and onwards. The United Nations University put together quite an interesting report, dealing specifically with desertification (we are all assumed to be its malcontents). Flick through it, if you have the time (Australians, I’m looking in your direction).

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