Friday, May 8, 2009

Italy's Silent Spring

In his novel "Gomorrah", Roberto Saviano writes about Naples and southern Italy:

The most concrete emblem of every economic cycle is the dump. Accumulating everything that ever was, dumps are the true aftermath of consumption, something more than the mark every product leaves on the surface of the earth. The south of Italy is the end of the line for the dregs of production, useless leftovers, and toxic waste. If all the trash that, according to the Italian environmental group Legambiente, escapes official inspection were collected in one place, it would form a mountain weighing 14 million tons and rising 47,900 feet from a base of three hectares. Mont Blanc rises 15,780 feet, Everest 29,015. So this heap of unregulated and unreported waste would be the highest mountain on earth. This is how I came to imagine the DNA of the economy, its commercial transactions and profit dividends, the additions and subtractions of accountants. It is as if this mountain had exploded and scattered over the south of Italy, in particular in Campania, Sicily, Clabria and Puglia, the regions with the greatest number of environmental crimes. These same regions head the list for the largest criminal associations, the highest unemployment rate, and the greatest number of volunteers for the military and police forces. Always the same list, eternal and immutable. In the last thirty years, the area around Caserta, between the Garigliano River and Lake Patria - the land of the Mozzoni clan - has absorbed tons of ordinary and toxic waste.