Saturday 12 November 2016
Malta is the most densely populated country in the EU with nearly 450,000 people squeezed into an area less than half the size of the smallest Irish counties. On top of that, piled into sea-front tower blocks, are 1.2 million tourists each year who come to cultivate their melanoma. That's a helluva lot of flush toilets for an island with 500mm of rainfall each year and neither rivers nor lakes [none of the above]. Water comes from caught rainfall and artesian wells which perforate the limestone bedrock like a sieve to abstract groundwater. Recently reverse osmosis desalination plants have been installed to create enough drinkable water to flush those toilets. As water is abstracted for drinking irrigation and flushing, the fresh-water lens on which the island sits is invaded by salt water from the surrounding sea. It is unsustainable and a geo-political nightmare.
After lunch in those days, children were forbidden to swim lest they get a cramp and drown. We started pegging small pieces of the remains of lunch into the water to see if they would sink or float. Some [sausage] sank and some [bread-crust] floated and some [apples] were surprising. Soon enough we were 'forming a hypothesis' [arguing about what such a thing would do] and then 'testing it' [throwing that thing over the side and noting the result]. Fifty years later that sounds remarkably like science and you've got to think that small children if left to pursue their curiosity are natural scientists. I have a degree in Natural Science but between the ages of 6 and 16 almost nothing was done to foster this, probably universal, sense of organised enquiry. Harrrumph!