José Luis Gallego, Journalist and environmental communicator. | R.E.


The naturalist, writer, journalist and environmental disseminator, as well as sustainability consultant, José Luis Gallego (Barcelona, 1964) will participate in the Mallorca Experience eForum (June 19 and 20 at Es Baluard Museu) coordinating the session Challenges and solutions in the era of environmental sustainability and with the lecture Responsible renewables: energy, territory and nature.

What do you think of forums such as the Mallorca Experience?
"In this case, the aim of the forum is not only to show the challenges we face, but also the opportunities. It is very positive that the focus is precisely on the opportunities. That said, a new development paradigm is needed. The model is exhausted and resources are not inexhaustible, as we believed a few years ago. The new paradigm must be based on a more sustainable and secure future, without treading on the planet's red lines."

Opportunities, but the outlook is not very encouraging.
"To begin with, the environmental crisis has two legs: the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis. The former has been the subject of 29 world summits and the latter 14. There are already many voices calling for a single global change summit. That should be the main focus."

What opportunities can the Balearic Islands have?
"For example, being a small and insular territory, it has the opportunity of renewable energies. The tourism model needs to supply its services and this is a challenge for the Islands. The citizens of the Balearic Islands have begun to mobilise and have signalled the red light. The Administration has arrived late and is now taking action. The social responses are admirable and the tourist and hotel interests themselves recognise that we must move towards a sustainable economy. I know the collapsed Palma, where it is impossible to walk around."

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The Administration reacts late, but also sends contradictory messages. One discourse speaks of sustainability and transitions, and another of expanding ports and airports.
"Governance must be responsible. We must demand our leaders to be far-sighted and not limit themselves to four years of legislature. And, of course, we must demand that they promote the common good. I know of no greater common good than air, water, energy or landscape. The environment is too important to be left to politicians alone. I am convinced of the partnership between business and society. Social pressure is very important. And more and more companies are convinced that they must reduce their impact. The insularity of the Balearic Islands adds challenges to its governance, which must act with great prudence and a millimetric vigilance of the territory. Thus, the Balearic Islands face challenges in the areas of water, waste, energy, mobility and tourist saturation that may be aggravated by its island status. If there is one territory that must pay special attention to sustainability, it is the islands, through a responsible, sustainable and circular economy. Balearic society is increasingly awake, as is Canarian society. They are having similar reactions."

For saying that or something similar, one can be accused of being a tourist-phobe.
"It would be unfair to deny tourism its contribution to wealth, well-being and development, but the current model is leading to a precipice. Tourists are coming to us from unusual countries. We must persevere with sustainable tourism, even though the adjective is a very burnt-out one. In the Balearic Islands, the model is literally unsustainable. And the Government has to manage the current situation, in a territory on the edge, with responsible and urgent solutions."

Climate change is not coming, it is already here.
"We have a timing problem. Climate change is going faster than expected, but our adaptation is going much slower. If we continue like this, very uncomfortable scenarios await us. It is in our power to avoid the worst scenarios by reacting and making changes. The Balearic Islands is a model that fits the situation we are currently experiencing. We could see shrinking beaches due to rising sea levels, having to close swimming pools due to lack of water, a collapse in waste treatment, more severe and long-lasting droughts, an invasion of jellyfish because the sea water is over 30 degrees and, in short, an intensification of extreme weather events."

Check here the full programme eForum eMallorca Experience 2024

Denialism aside, it is clear that a part of society is getting tired or fed up with the messages about climate change, as if it would rather not know about it.
"The scientific evidence is devastating. The truth must be told, above and beyond eco-stress or eco-anxiety. It is not about being catastrophists or alarmists. If you are diagnosed with cancer, the first thing you are told is: 'Stop smoking now'. I am concerned about the neglect of science and we have to think about future generations. The generational betrayal of the world we leave behind could be one of the greatest in human history. The current decade is momentous. We may be the last generation capable of turning the tide. To those future generations we leave only the option of adaptation, not mitigation. Fortunately, young people are reacting. The rise in environmental awareness is unquestionable, unstoppable. Climate change is a disaster for everyone, including the economy. It is neither left-wing nor right-wing, neither first nor third world. It is a challenge for the whole of humanity. It is coming upon us. We can negotiate among ourselves, but climate change negotiates with no one. What we can do is to correct its inertias."