Sustainability – Dickinson in Málaga

Biosphere without borders

A Challenge of Extremes: Climate Change in Málaga


Just a few weeks after a severe storm dumped up to 130 mm (5.11 inches) of rain on Málaga in just five hours and flash flooding destroyed roads and numerous buildings in the area, Dickinson students met with Professor José Damián Ruiz of the University of Málaga to chat about climate change.  Ruiz specializes in Physical Geography, which is comparable to Dickinson’s Earth Science department, and is currently working on a research project entitled “Proyecto Indicadores para la Gestión Sostenible del Desarrollo Turístico: Evaluación de la Capacidad de Carga en el Mediterráneo Meridional,” which translates to “Project Indicators for the Sustainable Management of Tourism Development: An Assessment of Carrying Capacity in the Southern Mediterranean.”

Professor José Damián Ruiz of the University of Málaga lecturing at the Centro Internacional de Español in Málaga

Ruiz’s talk was entitled “Indicadores de cambio climático y sus implicaciones para el desarrollo sostenible,” or “Indications of Climate Change and It’s Implications for Sustainable Development.”  He split the presentation into two parts, first explaining how climate change is manifesting in southern Spain through extreme droughts followed by extreme rains, like the one that occurred a few weeks prior.  He described how greenhouse gases trap heat in Earth’s atmosphere, which increases the temperature, and in turn the rate of evaporation.  This leads to more extreme droughts, followed by severe storms, as the clouds expel the water droplets that have condensed.

The second part of Ruiz’s talk explored how Málaga might react to climate change as the city continues to develop.  As part of the Costa del Sol, Málaga’s economy is made up primarily of agriculture and tourism.  As droughts become more severe and sea levels rise, both of these industries will see negative effects.  Ruiz cautioned the audience that Málaga’s economy will take a hit if changes are not made to make the city more sustainable now.  As with many global issues, both the causes and effects of climate change are multifaceted and interconnected.  However, hopefully with leaders like Ruiz at the forefront, Málaga will be able to address these implications.

Ruiz and Professor Mark Aldrich of Dickinson College

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