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Italy struggles with smog and drought

Photo: Gabriel Bouys Agence France-Presse Piazza Duomo in Milan, February 20, 2024. The most polluting cars were banned from circulation on Tuesday in Milan and eight other cities in Lombardy due to a very high level of pollution in this rich northern industrial region.

France Media Agency in Rome

10:55 a.m.

  • Europe

Smog is suffocating Milan, Sicily is cruelly short of water and wine production is declining in Piedmont: the lack of rain throughout Italy is aggravating pollution and causing droughts against a backdrop of global warming.

The most polluting cars were banned from driving on Tuesday in Milan and eight other towns in Lombardy due to very high levels of pollution in this rich northern industrial region.

Lombardy, which is home to many intensive livestock farms, has also banned the spreading of slurry on fields, a practice which causes heavy nitrate pollution.

Northern Italy has long been one of the most polluted regions in Europe. Lombardy's problem is partly geographical, the region being located in a basin between mountains, and therefore poorly ventilated.

But environmental NGOs believe that this handicap too often serves as an excuse for authorities to justify high levels of air pollution, without taking action to remedy it.

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Across Italy, regions suffer from drought or a strong deficit of precipitation, particularly in the mountains, particularly in the Alps.

Italy's snow water equivalent — the equivalent amount of water stored in the snowpack — is down 64 percent this month compared to the previous year, according to the CIMA Research Foundation.< /p>

The lack of precipitation aggravates an already difficult situation, after the heat waves of 2023 which reduced the level of reserves and increased water consumption.

Sicily declared a state of natural disaster due to drought in early February, and in Sardinia farmers can only use limited quantities of water.

The level of water reserves has fallen by 23% compared to the average of the last 14 years.

The southern regions of Puglia and Basilicata are also suffering, with farmers' association Coldiretti warning over the weekend that high temperatures had awakened thousands of bees earlier than expected.

This situation threatens the pollination of certain crops, because bees are not synchronized with the flowering period of the plants from which they collect pollen.

Piedmont, in the northwest of the country, asked the Ministry of Agriculture on Monday to declare a state of natural disaster for the drought plaguing the region, affecting vineyards and causing “significant” declines in wine production.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116