Saturday, February 28, 2015

White Deserts in Spain

Like with this post, I noticed something when I was looking at Google Earth.  Below are images of southern Spain, where everything is inexplicably white:


At first, I presumed it was a poor camera image - there's lots of that on Google Earth, though it's disappearing.  Zooming in close, however, it looks like endless white fields:


But these are not fields.  In fact, they are greenhouses:


I was able to find this website describing them, but the text is cut off.  I was able to recover it.  The whole text reads,

"This sea of plastic, the largest concentration of greenhouses in the world, did not exist 35 years ago. It now covers almost 40.000 ha. An average of 200 mm of rainfall a year falls on what used to be a dry savannah where a few herds roamed. This pluviometry technically means that this part of the Almeria province is a desert. The cold greenhouses are home to fruit production, especially intensive vegetable production, which uses 1 cubic meter of water per m2 a year, that is to say 4 to 5 times more than the little rainfall provides. The plants grow on an artificial substrate made of sand covered in black plastic and get their water from forage. Half of them have been installed illegally and some of them draw water from fossil groundwater. The environmental balance is disturbed as is the soil, which is polluted by fertilisers, pesticides and fungicides used to increase the rate of the yields. The lack of water, increasing salinity and the exploitation of cheap immigrant (and often illegal) labour show the limitations of this system. There are now 100.000 ha of crops in greenhouses in Spain (ten times more than in France). On the international agricultural market Andalusia is the region that exports the most market-garden products, fruits and vegetables in the whole Europe."

The world is very interesting.

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