Review of “A Siege of Salt and Sand,” – an Autocratic Government at Practice

The primary concern of autocratic regimes is not to actually govern or accomplish anything, but rather to appear to be doing some form of governing. In the present day, one of the most consistent global dilemmas governments face involves dealing with the effects of human-induced climate change. The documentary “A Siege of Salt and Sand,” chronicles the devastating impact that global warming has had on citizens of Tunisia on the island of Kerkennah. The documentary elucidates the very real and extremely perilous consequences of climate change and its effect on humans.

Tunisians are seen as being infected with lesions all over their body and many of the people have severe scarring. People ranging from young girls to older men are all depicted as having been physically effected in some way by the changing climate. Multiple Tunisians are interviewed throughout the documentary’s entirety. They describe the droughts, the heat waves, and all the disease that has followed the rising temperatures of the region’s climate.  And as you watch the video you’ll notice the frustration of the Tunisian people is very strong. The people describe the awareness of the effects of climate change is consistent throughout much of their society, “even people who have never heard of climate change,” as one individual remarks.

The Tunisian schoolteacher who is interviewed in the documentary stressed, “we have no seasons, only summer.”

But the Tunisian government has largely been absent in their efforts to aid their ailing population. Tunisians have organized demonstrations and protests in order to incite some action or aid from their government. But despite sandstorms and crippling heat continuing to wipe out Tunisia’s agriculture and ostensibly its entire domestic economy, the Tunisian government did little to help. Local farmers emphasize that there is no appeal for the government to help boost domestic agriculture because of the warming climate, describing it as a “wasteful investment.”

The visible effect of climate change on the island of Kerkennah is demonstrated through the significant decline in their agriculture from the immense heat and dwindling water supply. Wells are no longer a place for water, but rather the citizens say that they are trashcans now. Additionally, the Tunisians being interviewed describe the “green” home they remember as being just a distant recollection. The arrogance and indifference of the regional policymakers directly led to the downfall of this part of Tunisia.

Also, the video depicts individuals who speak Arabic, French, and English. French is spoken by men who appear to be either in the technological field or in some form of well-trained profession. Arabic is spoken by most of the regional farmers and merchants who are interviewed. It is also noteworthy to point out that different dialects of Arabic appear to be spoken in the video, one as a formal type and the other a little more colloquial. This demonstrates the caste system of language of the entire Middle Eastern Region – Arabic is not a language of highly skilled labor.

In sum, the documentary demonstrates the very real and very extreme effects that climate change has had on human beings in the region. The Tunisian government’s failure to provide aid or sufficient remedy to the situation has only compounded the problem. Climate change in the case of Tunisia has a directly negative effect on both the economy and the society of Tunisia.


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