In Andalusia, in the southeast of Spain, there is another sea next to the Mediterranean: the “plastic sea”, the German photographer notes. Tom Hegan. “Satellite Image of the region What caught my attention,” he says in an interview with P3. “This perspective revealed a completely white surface, like snow on the Spanish Mediterranean coast. When I took a closer look, I realized what I saw was a sea of plastic sheets used to build green huts.
According to the local newspaper, the closed garden occupied Almeria Diary, an area of 32,827 hectares, equal to 328 square kilometers, 44 thousand football fields. “This region is known for having very hot and very dry climates,” Hagen notes. Thus what is cultivated there is artificially irrigated. There is intensive production of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, melons and watermelons – and 99.5% of this production. Exported to Europe, especially for countries in the north of the continent. The main importer is Germany, followed by the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands.
Agricultural production here is 30 times higher than the average on European soil – not less 3.5 million tonnes Fruits and vegetables per year. Everything would be fine if it weren’t for the environmental and human costs of this type of production. In Almeria and neighboring regions of Andalusia, thousands of illegal immigrants from African countries work in greenhouses. Al JazeeraWithout a work contract, wages below the minimum wage and severe housing problems – many without access to drinking water.
Environmental costs are also high. “Most of these greenhouses are built entirely of plastic, which has a short lifespan,” Hagen explains. “Much of this plastic degrades, is crushed and dumped in landfills. From there, wind and erosion carry this waste to the sea – 33,500 tons of plastic are removed annually. The government of the autonomous region of Andalusia It claims that 85% of this plastic is recycled Another five thousand tons were not treated – And these will eventually be near the coast. “Another related problem is the contamination of soil and groundwater caused by the intensive use of fertilizers and pesticides, which are used to protect crops from bacteria and fungi and to stimulate production,” says German.
“This series illustrates the profound impact of human presence on the planet”, concludes the photographer who mainly uses it. drone For the development of their projects, Some were previously published in P3. “Our need to consume things that are not locally produced at any time of the year puts pressure on the land, which we believe has nothing to do with us.”