Submitted by a CASF Member
Cyprus’ extreme environmental stress may lead to early collapse!
Ex-govt official: “We are going through a visual process of desertification.”
Main Causes of Collapse
– Persistent Droughts
– Disruption in climatic patterns
– Low Precipitation
– Higher than normal temperatures
– Wildfires and other natural phenomena [disasters] exacerbated by warming
– Land use and land cover change
– Loss of topsoil
– Soil degradation, especially salination
– Soil erosion caused by high temperatures, low precipitation and hot dry winds
– Extreme water shortages throughout the island worsened by additional [including unforeseen] factors
– Causing additional environmental stress
– Creating excessive waste and pollution
– Weakening the Island’s natural defense mechanisms
– Reduced ability to produce food
– Crop failure
– Continued water scarcity (compounded by economic/monetary issues)
– Breakdown of sewage, water and sanitation systems
– Spread of disease pandemics
– Overshoot of Carrying Capacity: The Island may have already passed the tipping point
– Resumption of the Cypriot civil war between the north and south enclaves reignited by the specter of ecological collapse
– Collapse of local ecosystems
– Land abandonment
– Population displacement/climate refugees
Estimated Population: 793,000 (July 2008 Estimate)
Total: 9,250 sq km (of which 3,355 sq km are in north Cyprus)
Land: 9,240 sq km
Water: 10 sq km
No. of Tourists: About 3,000,000
Arable land: 10.81%
Permanent crops: 4.32%
Other: 84.87% (2005)
Irrigated land: 400 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 0.4 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
Total: 0.21 cu km/yr (27%/1%/71%)
Per capita: 250 cu m/yr (2000)
Primary Energy Consumption year 2007: 0.13 Quad BTU [CASF estimate based on EIA data]
Percentage rise compared to year 2000: 20.8 percent
Fossil Fuel consumption (excluding aviation fuel) year 2007: 2,431,399 tonnes of oil [source]
Percentage rise compared to year 2000: 18.4 percent
CO2 Emissions From Consumption of Fossil Fuels year 2007 : 9.65 MMT [CASF estimate for 2007]
Percentage rise compared to year 2000: 22.5 percent
Natural hazards: moderate earthquake activity; droughts
Environment – current issues:
water resource problems (no natural reservoir catchments, seasonal disparity in rainfall, sea water intrusion to island’s largest aquifer, increased salination in the north); water pollution from sewage and industrial wastes; coastal degradation; loss of wildlife habitats from urbanization.
Human Rights Issues
Cyprus [like New Zealand] is primarily a destination country for a large number of women trafficked from Eastern and Central Europe, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic for the purpose of sexual exploitation; traffickers continued to fraudulently recruit victims for work as dancers in cabarets and nightclubs on short-term “artiste” visas, for work in pubs and bars on employment visas, or for illegal work on tourist or student visas. (Source CIA Factbook, Wikipedia, others)
Population density: It is estimated that at peak tourist season, the effective population density of [Southern] Cyprus exceeds that of the Netherlands (ranked world’s 25th most densely populated).
Location map: Cyprus (dark green) / European Union (light green) / Europe (dark grey). Credit: User 3meandEr, via Wikimedia Commons
- After little winter rainfall, the drought in Cyprus is now in its fifth year.
- Cypriot water reserves are at their lowest for 100 years; however, the effective population of Cyprus (citizens and tourists) have multiplied by about 150 folds.
- “As long as the population remained [as] low [as] in the pre-industrial period, the water was sufficient for supplying cities which received water either from the mountains through the aqueducts or through the groundwater supply.” Said Chris Schabel, medieval historian at the University of Cyprus.
- The entire island including both the Turkish Cypriot north and the Greek Cypriot south divisions are drought stricken.
- The Island has an annual requirement of about 210 million cubic meters of water.
- As of July 16, 2008 the water reservoirs were only about 6.5 percent full. Down one percent in the last three weeks (33 percent of the level 12 months ago).
- Southern Cyprus’ 17 main reservoirs currently contain a paltry 17,733 cubic meters of water, some of which may be unsuitable for drinking.
- Emergency measures have limited the supply of running water to homes to only twice weekly.
- Most of the municipal wells have been shut down to avoid the risk of seawater contamination.
- “The British policy of drilling boreholes throughout the island resulted in a serious depletion, due to excessive pumping of the groundwater reserves, in the main water bearing areas of Famagusta, Morphou and Akrotiri. It was calculated a few years ago that groundwater resources of Cyprus are over-pumped every year by 40 per cent over the allowable safe yield.” (Source)
- Cyprus is buying from Greece 8 million cubic meters (2.1 billion gallons) of water to be delivered by November 2008 at a cost of €40 million (US$64 million). The water will only be distributed in the Greek Cypriot south.
- The first ship carrying water from Greece arrived June 30 at Limassol (Cyprus’ main port). The officials then realized they could not pump the water from tanker because their makeshift pipeline was 10 feet short. Because of the delay, the water turned “odorous” and was deemed unsafe for drinking. The entire tanker load of 40,000 cubic meters was subsequently pumped into the ground, instead of the city’s water network due to contamination fears!
- Under the initial agreement, two water-laden tankers were scheduled to leave Elefsina near Athens bound for Cyprus every day for six months (6 tankers delivering 200 shipments) between June and November 2008.
- The Turkish Cypriot north is negotiating a separate arrangement with Turkey for their water needs.
- The Greek Cypriot south plans to build a third desalination plant.
Agriculture, Wildfires, Desertification
“Extremely hot and dry weather conditions in Cyprus, combined with strong winds led to a disastrous upsurge of forest fires and wildfires in the Troodos Montain area on 29 June 2007. … Small villages had to be evacuated. Some houses were destroyed. Cyprus reported severe material damages in the area. Moreover, two forest fires hit Cyprus on 16 July 2007 in touristic areas of the Island. The first hit the vicinity of the Kalavasos village area … The other was close to Kornos village, which is located 20 km south of Nicosia [capital city]. The total burnt area … in Cyprus measured from satellite imagery on 31 July 2007 was 12 286 hectares.” European Civil Protection.
Climate change is pointing at us “like a loaded gun,” warned the EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel at a conference on water policy last week.
“Global warming is happening,” she said. “It’s taken thousands of years for global temperatures to rise by just one degree. In this century we expect to see an increase in global temperatures of between two and six degrees Celsius.”
“Climate change has arrived. Drought has arrived. We need to take out insurance now. Good business sense demands better use of water. For those farmers caught unprepared, climate change could be a sledge hammer,” said Boel. “Maybe there are areas that will benefit from this, like in the north, but we expect climate change to leave a wave of destruction. We expect more heat waves, drought, floods and crop failures.”
“We are going through a visual process of desertification. Krasochorio near Limassol, has lost its environment [Ecosystems have collapsed]. Around 85 per cent of the population has left. In Lania, 30 villas are surrounded by burnt land after the fires. What can the villagers do with them now?” Said the former Cypriot Agriculture Ministry official, Antonis Constantinou.
“What Cyprus is not good at is holding water, avoiding erosion, adapting to water shortage, and not giving incentives which can’t guarantee a better future for the island. We are also not so good at keeping greenery, avoiding fires, fighting fires, giving incentives to people to manage land, even non-agricultural land owners,” he added. (Source)
Cyprus is situated in the eastern Mediterranean south of Turkey, north of Egypt, and east-southeast of Greece, It is the third-largest Mediterranean island and a busy tourist destination, attracting about 3 million tourists each year.
A former British colony, it gained independence from the UK in 1960 claiming sovereignty over 97% of the island and surrounding waters, with the United Kingdom controlling the remaining three percent. It became a member of the European Union May 1, 2004.
In 1974, following a period of violence between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and an attempted Greek Cypriot coup d’état aimed at annexing the island to Greece and sponsored by the Greek military junta of 1967-1974, Turkey invaded and occupied one-third of the island. This led to the displacement of thousands of Cypriots and the establishment of a separate Turkish Cypriot political entity in the north. Cyprus is thus divided to:
- The area under the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus in the south of the island
- The Turkish-occupied area in the north, calling itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (recognized only by Turkey)
- The United Nations-controlled Green Line, separating the two
- Two “Sovereign Base Areas” or military bases Akrotiri and Dhekelia, where United Kingdom is the sovereign despite Cypriot independence. (Source: Wikimedia)
Map of Cyprus: WSBA and ESBA (British military bases at Akrotiri and Dhekelia) are in pink, UN buffer zone dividing the northern (Turkish) and southern (Greek) administrations is shown in gray. The map is adapted from the CIA World Factbook map. (Source).