If there is one thing that is striking about the drought that grips Italy, it is the superficiality with which politics and the media address this issue. The collapse of water resources in the Po basin is treated as a natural disaster, an almost unpredictable fact. As if it were a sudden earthquake. Yet for months the local authorities have raised alarms. The winter was exceptionally mild: there was no snow in the Alps, causing a shortage of fossil water resources for spring. The rain was very little. Already in March the district authority of the river Po spoke of the “progressive advance of conditions of severe and severe prolonged drought along the course of the great river up to the delta”.
Despite the warning, nothing was done. Politics did not intend to give the issue the character of urgency and the media did not think it was appropriate to bring the issue to the center of public debate. Rationing in various municipalities in Piedmont and Lombardy is expected shortly, with nightly supply interruptions. Agriculture is suffering. Hydroelectric power generation is collapsing. But we prefer to talk about something else, to hope that it rains or that “the crisis has a contingent nature”, as the minister of ecological transition Roberto Cingolani recently said.
The problem is precisely that the crisis does not have a contingent character. It is the sign of the new climatic scenario in which we find ourselves. Climatologists agree: the Mediterranean area is a hotspot, an area where the effects of the climate crisis are particularly evident. Italy is at the heart of the climate crisis, but politics prefers to ignore a problem on which it is struggling to have a long-term vision. The National Recovery and Resilience Plan plans to allocate 880 million to create mini-reservoirs intended to retain rainwater. But they are crumbs compared to the scale of the problem. The new reality we live in requires us to rethink the use of a resource that was once abundant but will no longer be. Reducing waste in distribution, promoting the use of waste water in agriculture, industry and household waste are just some of the actions that should be promoted promptly. It is about investing in the future and not burying your head in the sand waiting for the emergency to pass. Because the emergency will not pass and, if nothing is done, the situation is only destined to get worse.