The flood of the Marche and the politics of the moment after (useless and harmful)

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Marche: yet another flood that surprises politics. But we are surprised that they are surprised. What parallel world do they live in? For decades and decades we have been talking about ecological instability which is a peculiar feature of our country which, we always remember, is shaky for more than half, on an inclined and slippery surface and always with its feet in the water.

In a country like this there should be the Ministry of Hydrogeological Prevention Ugo (the only great work, as Tomaso Montanari already said years ago) and it should not even be exposed to the stomach ache of that or that political current because the only current to listen to it is that of waters, soils and winds. And if in this country we add climate change and the impacts that we casually continue to throw up on it, what do you want to expect? We have been repeating all this for years and years and it is surprising to find ourselves still faced with political comments from “politics of the day after”, with the usual phrases with which they say they are heartbroken, albeit rightly, and close to the relatives of the victims. For heaven’s sake we cannot fail to say that some of them, but always the day after, remembered climate change. But do we need this “day-after political” attention? Or don’t we do anything about it? And if it is not rooted in their actions, it remains a necessary performance.

What we need is a “yesterday’s policy”, capable of talking about hydrogeological instability before it devastates our country, capable of putting the pieces together and finally understanding that it is necessary to change the model of development and cultural narration by deciding to pay much more attention and many more resources in the environmental issue.
In 2005 the democrat Al Gore released the film “An inconvenient truth”, a sort of easy easy summary, not only to make everyone understand the disaster we are in and the causes that generate it, but to give politicians, as a politician , an instrument that put them in tension and did not doze them off. But of that film, of that effort (and of many that have followed one another up to involving extraordinary girls like Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate and beyond), the fruits and our leader politicians prefer to speak badly of each other or prefer to work to scare the voters by asking them to vote here so as not to fall there. A cultural disaster that accelerates the disastrous effects of climate change and the ordinary fragility of our country.

In their electoral (and political) agenda the issue of hydrogeological instability is only one among many, stuck in the programs only because you can’t not put it there. But until yesterday they didn’t even talk about it. This is the point. We do not have a policy capable of anticipating, which is exactly what it should do. Equally serious is myopia in not seeing the relationship between what happens and what has been done or not done before. In the Marche region, in the pandemic year alone (2020-2021), land consumption increased by 138 hectares: a blunder. But land consumption in neighboring regions also destabilizes the environmental balance because in ecology everything is connected and everyone is responsible: the administrative perimeters in which politicians play are not worth a pipe.

Cementing free soil means lowering the response capacity of the territory, it means making it more vulnerable, it means increasing public spending (the one that will now have to be set aside for damage), it means exposing the population to new risks, it means making so that less water infiltrates and more water flows to the surface by reducing the time between when rain falls to the ground and when it fills waterways. Those land consumption does not come from Santa Claus, but from the unsustainable and unpresentable work of mayors and governors of the Regions (or of the political class) and of complacent technicians who not only continue to consent to new land consumption, but do not understand that they must bring in the ecological question in the political debate and in their agendas is indelible and irreversible. Only a few mayors e leader politicians ask for this, the overwhelming majority are indifferent, but not innocent for this.

If things and causes such as soil consumption, drought that makes the land less permeable, incorrect agricultural practices, agricultural intensification that leaves the land bare and exposed to erosion for months and months, etc. politics continues to ignore them when they are told (see the 2022 Ispra report on land use and the 2021 report on hydrogeological instability that politicians do not even comment on and many of them do not even know that they exist) we must learn to say that it is a guilty policy and we do nothing of their sad (albeit due) telegrams the next day. We want to save our children, our old people, our meadows the day before.

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Paolo Pileri is full professor of Territorial and Environmental Planning at the Politecnico di Milano. His latest book is “The intelligence of the soil” (Altrigianato, 2022)

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The article is in Italian

Tags: flood Marche politics moment useless harmful

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