Main environmental problems in Spain - all the information here

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Spain is the driest country in Europe, with a weak vegetation cover compared to other places on this continent, a very uneven volume of rainfall (both in the distribution of space and time) and with little surface water. In addition to these natural factors, there is human action, which can further damage this scenario. In this Green Ecologist article we will talk about the main environmental problems in Spain. As an example of an environmental problem in Spain, in the main image we can see Madrid on a day with a high level of pollution.

Air pollution in Spain

This is one of the main environmental problems in Spain and it occurs as a consequence of different human activities and natural factors. The atmospheric pollution it is common in urban centers, power plants, and industrial areas. In addition, there are factors that favor the concentration of air pollutants, such as atmospheric stability (for example anticyclones) or depressed areas.

Thermal power plants, for example, emit large amounts of sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides and CO2. It is estimated that CO2 emissions have increased by 50% in the period between 1990 and 2006, reaching 433 million tons that year (approximately 10 tons per inhabitant per year). These gases are also responsible for the greenhouse effect and global warming.

Water resources and water quality are reduced in Spain

In this country the distribution of water resources is uneven, both in space and time. The reservoir capacity in Spain is approximately 54,000 hm3 and the annual water demands are divided into urban, industrial and agricultural. In addition to this, groundwater is also used. However, the overexploitation of aquifers has as a consequence problems such as the reduction of surface emissions that feed river courses and wetlands and the salinization of coastal areas. Therefore, it seeks to reduce consumption and increase the surface area in reservoirs.

Population and industry generate a water or water pollution due to discharges, which spread rapidly through the water. Some of these pollutants are biological metabolites, discharges, pollutants from agriculture or industrial pollutants. The coastal zone is especially vulnerable to water pollution.

In Spain there is loss of vegetation cover, erosion and desertification

In this European country there is a great vegetation surface that is being lost by factors such as deforestation to obtain agricultural land and pastures, construction of roads and infrastructure, overgrazing, logging for wood or forest fires. You can delve into the issue of deforestation in this country by reading this other article by Ecologist Verde on Causes of deforestation in Spain.

Desertification refers to the progressive transformation of a territory towards the desert ecosystem and may be due to natural factors such as low rainfall and drought or due to human factors, including the destruction of the vegetation cover. In addition, the loss of the vegetation cover leaves the territory more exposed to the factors that produce erosion such as water.

In Spain, the Mediterranean coast, part of the interior and the Canary Islands are territories that present a high risk of desertification, due to intensive agriculture, fires, burning of remains, cutting down of vegetation or land abandonment.

Urban and industrial waste, another major environmental problem in Spain

Industrial and human activities generate large amount of residue or debris that are not assimilated within natural cycles or are assimilated at a slower rate than their deposition. For this reason, these residues must be treated and, if possible, eliminated. It is calculated that in the year 2007 the residues reached almost 25 million tons of waste in Spain, which would be equivalent to approximately 525 kg per inhabitant per year.

Waste can be divided into inert, organic, toxic, and hazardous. Each year around 1.8 million tons of these toxic and dangerous wastes are produced in this country. The management of this waste includes its incineration, physical treatment with chemicals, storage or reuse.

Natural risks as part of environmental problems in Spain

Other environmental problem in Spain It is the one that can be generated as a consequence of natural processes. These risks are more difficult to anticipate, as they are beyond human control. Among these are the geological and climatic risks:

  • Geological risks: These include earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or subsidence. This country is between the Eurasian and African plates, which generate more earthquake risks in the south and southeast of the peninsula. The volcanic area is found mainly in the Canary archipelago, but it does not present a high risk. Subsidence is more at risk in areas with calcareous soils.
  • Climate risks: These include hailstorms, wind storms, cold waves or persistent rains, especially in the north and northwest of the peninsula, or heat waves or the cold drop in the south and east of the peninsula.

If you want to read more articles similar to Main environmental problems in Spain, we recommend that you enter our category of Other environment.

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