By John B. Thornes
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Additional info for Environmental Issues in the Mediterranean: Processes and Perspectives from the Past and Present (Routledge Studies in Physical Geography Andenvironment)
The source of the scarcity is the underlying nature of the Mediterranean climate, with long periods of hydrologic deﬁcit and high levels of interannual variability in rainfall, but long periods of over-exploitation have exacerbated the issue. Land degradation is occurring because of both intensive use of the land, and its abandonment. The source of these changes are ultimately the long history of settlement and the development of settlement patterns in the region. New problems are also arising, due to the use of new technologies but also the evolution of new political structures, relating to changes on the European and global scales.
Earthquakes I felt the ground under me begin to dance. I looked up and saw the ceiling start to come away. I made a run for the door while the dust began to cover everything and everyone, and behind me I heard people crying out. (Hooper, 1997) The above quotation is from an Italian journalist reporting the effects of the earthquakes that struck Assisi in central Italy on 26 September 1997. Like the description by Pliny cited above of the tremors accompanying the Vesuvius eruption, it gives an indication of the terror that strikes when the Earth starts to move beneath our feet.
Our everyday activities are limited by environmental constraints and our attempts to overcome them. Furthermore, modern attempts to live within the environment are controlled by the past development of that environment. This development may be driven by climatic change, internal mechanisms of evolution or the effects of human activity. However, the extent to which any of these are separable on long timescales is indeed debatable. An important consequence of these interlinkages is that understanding where we are today means understanding the ways in which the environment has developed in response to them.