The reality of the Po river: a drama that does not see us free from blame

Seeing the images depicting boats lying stretched out on meadows instead of on the water, and not because they have been pulled up to dry, but because it is precisely the water that is missing, would suggest a dystopian documentary, and instead it is the current reality of the Po river in the Parma area. And these are just some of the images that document the pernicious mix of very high temperatures and lack of rain that characterizes the first half of 2022, which made the writer say Nicola Lagioianot to an environmentalist: “That of 2022 is not the hottest summer we have ever faced, but the mildest of those we have left to live.”

Photos that are paired with the closing of summer skiing at the Stelvio and Cervinia; with fish rescued by firefighters and fishermen; with the hydroelectric plants closed due to lack of water, and so on.

But let’s go back to the emblematic case of the Po river. In an interview with Ansa, the president of Anbi, Francesco Vincenzi, states: “In northern Italy there is a hitherto unknown drought condition and it is clear that a few storms will not be enough to bring balance the water balance. ” And then he points the finger at the recent overbuilding ISPRA report: “In this perspective, it is even more worrying that Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna and Piedmont are the regions that, in 2021, have more consumed and cemented soilremoving it from agriculture and the natural recharge function of the aquifers, while at the same time accentuating the hydrogeological risk. “

Sacrosanct truth, of course. As well as that of the losses of the aqueducts. But the tragedy of resource scarcity certainly does not see farmers, and ultimately ourselves, exempt from blame. Given that the intensive agriculture that characterizes almost the entire Po valley appears to be strongly consumer of the resource, in particular the cultivation of corn, which for about 90% ends up feeding not us but farm animalswhich we feed on only subsequently, or the products obtained from them.

In this regard, an average value of six thousand cubic meters of water per hectare is calculated, ie equal to a layer of 60 cm, which corresponds to more than half of that which normally falls in the form of precipitation on the Po valley. A huge amount, for which farmers and consumers are responsible. With the consequence of potentially taking space away from wheat and forcing us to then go and buy it abroad, fueling the deficit in the cereal trade balance. Brilliant!

I conclude with a harsh arrow launched the past few days by the philosopher and ethologist Roberto Marchesini, again against the agricultural world: “Agricultural organizations complain of drought and call for rebates. However, it is forgotten that destructive agriculture in the last fifty years has transformed the Po Valley in a desert through the destruction of tree and shrub hedges, subsidence for agricultural machinery, mountains of pesticides and herbicides, alteration of the river bed, not paying attention to ditches, destruction of rubble, deep plowing, pollution of the aquifers with sewage. Maybe they simply should recite the mea culpa. “

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