Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Progress Report #1: Contemporary Controversies in Malta

As a member of the ICEX team my project will focus on Malta. I choose to research contemporary challenges and opportunities specifically related to the environment, power production, social/political controversies, role in European Nations (EU), role in counter-terrorism, and Malta’s vision of itself today.

Preliminary research has yielded some information that should make this project very interesting. While I have found many interesting facts and articles relating to my topic, most of them only scratch the surface of the issues and do not go into the depth of detail that I would like to see. Finding detailed information on the topics introduced above is proving to be quite a difficult task for a small country like Malta.

It is commonly said that Malta’s only natural resources are people and the sun. The people are the one and a half million tourists that travel to Malta each year, and the sun because it is sunny most of the year. I find this very odd because with sun as one of your only natural resources one would think that Malta would have an interest in renewable energy (such as solar power). However, Malta only produces 0.2 percent of its energy with renewable resources while the rest is produced with fossil fuels. Additionally, as part of the EU Malta is required to produce ten percent of its energy with renewable resources by the year 2020 - they do not seem to be making much progress. With limited natural resources, Malta should use what it has to its advantage and harness the power of the sun.

On a separate note, Malta became the smallest member of the EU in May 2004 which was a major partisan controversy at the time as the Nationalist party was in complete support while the Malta Labour Party opposed it. Since its admission to the EU, Malta has been enthusiastically involved with the EU and its decisions (except maybe renewable energy). In addition they have been quite involved in counter terrorism. With its strategic location in the Mediterranean Sea, Malta is a desired operating location for terrorists and counter terrorists alike. But, in 2005 Malta and the United States committed over six million dollars to secure Malta’s borders and general security. Malta also allowed the United States use its land and harbors to repair equipment and for use in emergency situations. This increased the United States effectiveness in fighting the terrorists because they had repair facilities and headquarters close to the action.

Above was a quick overview of what I have found interesting so far. As I move forward with my research I would like to learn more about what actions Malta is taking to create green energy sources to comply with the EU, and hopefully find some interesting current economic and political controversies.

Following is a list of facts that I found interesting and related to my topic (United States demographic statistic in parenthesis): Malta has the densest population in Europe with about 3400 people per square mile (55), is 98 percent Roman Catholic (22%), has two official languages, growth rate of .42 percent (.87%), 94 percent living in urban areas (82%), and an immigration rate of 2.03 migrants per 1000 citizens (2.92). I do not know how these demographics affect the politics, policies, and other aspects of society in Malta, but I feel that they may be an important key to understanding the internal and international affairs and controversies of Malta.

1 comment:

  1. Jeff, this is a good start. I think further exploration of Malta's energy production would be fantastic - particularly in the context of debates about Malta's actual independence in terms of food, energy, technology development, and so forth. What argument do you want to make about why Malta currently only gets 1% of its energy from renewable resources? How does this relate to historical or cultural patterns? Why is Malta lagging so far behind other EU countries? Are new curricula being developed at the secondary level or at the U. of Malta to address Malta's commitment to getting 10% of its energy from renewable resources by 2020?

    It appears as if there are some other environmental controversies in Malta as well - for example, aquaculture, and the impact of coastal tourism. Additionally, how is Malta preparing to deal with the impacts of global climate change as a small island state?

    Also, what argument do you want to make about the way in which Malta is (trying to) position itself in the EU and in relation to counter-terrorism efforts?


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