Malta, worried about climate change? Could have fooled me…

At least, the European Union’s official ‘leading nation’, in the global fight against Climate Change, is… not Sweden; not Denmark; not France; not Germany… but Malta

You know what? I’m beginning to suspect that someone, somewhere deep in the bureaucratic undergrowth of Brussels, must be getting some kind of ‘kick’ out of deliberately skewing Malta’s results in Eurobarometer surveys.

Exactly for what reason or purpose, I haven’t the foggiest idea. But let’s face it: it can’t be a coincidence, can it, that those surveys always create an ‘illusion’ about our country, that can very easily be dispelled… often, just by looking out of your own window?

No, make no mistake. Eurobarometer surveys are too consistently ‘wrong’ - about Malta, at any rate - to be put down to anything other than ‘human interference’. Except, perhaps, the only alternative hypothesis: i.e., that those surveys are simply ‘unreliable’ to begin with; either because of flaws in their methodology; or (more likely, I would imagine) because most people simply lie through their teeth, whenever responding to their questionnaires…

Whatever the case, though: it’s becoming increasingly impossible to ever take their results seriously. So let’s take a look at a few examples, shall we?

In December 2019, Eurobarometer placed Malta second (2nd), out of all 27 EU member states, in the ‘concern-about-freedom-of-expression’ category. Not only that: but a staggering 95% (!) of the population reportedly ‘consider[ed] it important and essential, that the media and journalists, as well as civil society organisations and activists, can criticize the government or major economic interests, without the risk of intimidation’.

Erm… really?  Do you mean to tell me that – a mere three years ago – people here could safely express their thoughts and opinions, about ‘government or major economic interests’ – or anything, really: from politics, to football, to the Eurovision Song Contest, and beyond – without the fear of being instantly EVISCERATED, by a barrage of hostile, often openly-intimidating, online verbal abuse? (Sometimes extending to undisguised death-threats; and as a rule, coming from around 95% of the same Maltese population, anyway)?

Sorry, but that’s just way too much to simply ‘accept without question’. How is it even possible, for instance, that a country which claims to value ‘freedom of expression’ so very highly – and which deplores all ‘threats to journalists, activists and NGOs’, etc. – also routinely takes Europe’s Number 1 spot, when it comes to… um… actively ‘threatening, intimidating and harassing’ precisely those same categories of people? (In 2019, there were no fewer than 29 such cases – all targeting media-houses - prosecuted in Maltese courts…)

‘Concern about freedom of expression’, my foot!  Let’s be honest: the same people who answered ‘Yes’ to that question, would probably be the very first ones to deflate all four of your car’s tyres – or even place a dead cat on your doorstep – if you ever so much as dreamed of ‘criticising’, or (even worse) ‘poking fun at’, anything that they themselves hold dear…

But wait, that was just the start. It gets a lot better, promise…

For instance: ever since around 2016 or thereabouts, Eurobarometer surveys have consistently pinpointed ‘The Environment’ (See? Better already!) as one of Malta’s three foremost ‘major public concerns’. And from February 2022 onwards, the same category has overtaken ‘immigration’, and even ‘traffic’, to place second after ‘the cost of living’.

Once again, the question almost asks itself. If the Maltese people really were as overwhelmingly ‘concerned about the environment’, as they make themselves out to be in surveys… why have we permitted so much of our own environment to be raped, pillaged and destroyed in the meantime? Why has the pace of this destruction increased so alarmingly since 2016 (the year of our supposed ‘environmental awakening’, according to Eurobarometer?)

And why doesn’t this ‘major public concern’ ever translate into any political pressure to actually PRESERVE the environment, for a change? Why, in a word, does it always have to be environmentally ‘exploitative’ lobby-groups, to ever dictate policy to government: and not this presumed ‘overwhelming majority’, which (if those results were accurate) would translate into much greater power and influence, over politicians, than all those other lobbies combined?

It doesn’t quite add up, does it? Especially when you also consider that many of the same people who express so much ‘environmental concern’, would probably have no hesitation whatsoever, in selling off their own property to be re-developed (or redeveloping it themselves).

And while that might sound like a gratuitous assertion… well, how else are we to explain that there is so much new development – mostly, on privately-owned land - sprouting up almost everywhere you look? How could any of that even materialise, at all: without at least a fair chunk of the local population being, to some degree, ‘complicit’ in the same environmental destruction, they separately complain about in surveys?

And yes: I am well aware that we’re all sometimes guilty of similar acts of hypocrisy, ourselves (and I’m certainly no exception: I’m about to talk about ‘vehicle-ownership’, for instance… even though I still own a car of my own; and if I’m not using it at the moment: it’s only because of a recurring fault with the goddamn battery…)

But still: for 80%+ of Malta to claim to be ‘highly concerned about the environment’ … when we all know that not even 0.2% of the population ever actually shows up to any ‘environmental protest’… I mean, come on. There is such a thing as a limit to credulity levels, you know.

And besides: if some of my previous examples were too ‘hypothetical’ for your liking…  there are others where the statistics speak for themselves. Last November’s Eurobarometer, for instance, found that: ‘More than two-thirds of people in Malta believe the country’s air quality has deteriorated in the past 10 years; and the majority are afraid their health is suffering more as a result.’

Oddly enough, however: the biggest contributor to Malta’s air-pollution, then as now, remains the motorised vehicle; and – in every other survey to date - Malta has consistently registered the highest percentage (by far) of private-car usage, anywhere in the EU.

In 2014, it stood at around at around 74% - which is already a lot more than the ‘two-thirds’ who simultaneously claim to be worried about ‘the harmful effects of air pollution’.

So it follows (mathematically, this time) that a fair chunk of that 66% must perforce be numbered among the much larger percentage of Maltese citizens who actively contribute to Malta’s air-pollution themselves, by driving their own vehicles (even, it must be said, after public transport has been made FREE OF CHARGE…)

In other words: either that original ‘two-thirds’ estimate must be wildly inaccurate: or Malta must also be home to the highest rate of ‘outrageous environmental hypocrisy’, that Europe has ever seen…

Even that, however, pales to insignificance compared with the latest Eurobarometer survey. You’ve probably guessed it from the headline already, but…

Yup, folks! In January 2023, Malta surpassed even itself, by emerging at the very top of the European charts, for… drums rolling!… ‘public concern about CLIMATE CHANGE’, no less!

Now: with an enormous effort, I shall resist the temptation to simply repeat the previous paragraphs, verbatim. (Vehicles are also among Malta’s main greenhouse-gas emitters: so if 93% are so very ‘concerned about climate change’… why does roughly the same percentage also find it impossible to ever do without their private cars, for more than five minutes?)

More importantly, however: if that were really the case… then why is our country also languishing at the very bottom of the European tables, when it comes to actually DOING ANYTHING about this problem, at all? (Like, for instance, actually trying to reach our national Emissions Targets by 2050, as agreed)?

But let’s overlook the sheer lack of any national effort, to ever confront the actual causes of Climate Change: and there are two good reasons for doing so.

1) Because even if Malta DID actually reach its emissions targets, it still wouldn’t make much of a difference on a global level, anyway;

2) Because, regardless of the actual causes of Climate Change – be it ‘man-made’, or ‘entirely natural’ (and for what’s it worth: I myself happen to think it’s the former) – the consequences of a gradual increase in global land-and-sea temperatures, for Malta, will remain exactly the same.

We were already facing the prospect of ‘desertification’, long before Climate Change itself even became an issue; and we are now beginning to savour the fruits of the actual process itself.

So the question really becomes: if the vast majority of the Maltese public really does feel that Climate Change is such a pressing national concern…

… why are we still not doing anything at all, to mitigate any of the inevitable, imminent consequences on our own environment? Why is there no national drive (as there once was, in the distant 1980s) to ‘conserve water’, for instance: a commodity that will only become more ‘precious’ (and more energy-expensive to actually produce) as temperatures inevitably get hotter?

I could go on, of course: we’re not even doing anything to make Malta FEEL any cooler, either (in fact, we’re uprooting trees at every opportunity… thus losing both natural shade, as well as around the only thing we have that actually ABSORBS Carbon Dioxide, instead of emitting it…)

But no matter: I do concede that there is one small crumb of comfort, in this otherwise laughable misrepresentation of our actual ‘environmental views’.

At least, the European Union’s official ‘leading nation’, in the global fight against Climate Change, is… not Sweden; not Denmark; not France; not Germany… but Malta.

And you all know what THAT means, don’t you?