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The four of us sit still for a full minute, too humbled to move or to speak. My hand finds its way to the door handle and I cringe as the car opens with a low clunk, interrupting the total silence. I walk to the edge of the lookout to survey the apocalyptic scene, twigs crackling under every step. Everything is black. Trees snake upwards like tendrils probing the sky, stripped of their leaves and branches and devoid of life. A lone house, a casa payesa, stands tall and white in stark contrast to its surroundings; by some act of God the fire had missed it completely. From here I can see the deep blue of the beach — our beach, the crystal clear water surrounded by charred rocks. One of the best kept secrets in Ibiza, a paradise burnt to a crisp. My brother joins me and breaks the silence: “Well, this sucks.”
I’ve always taken too much for granted. Since I was a baby we have gone to Ibiza, Spain for 6 weeks every summer, vacationing in our small house in the country. No matter how often my mother reminded me, I could never comprehend just how fortunate I was that my entire family on my dad’s side lived in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Growing up, Ibiza was like a second home to me, one that also just so happened to have pristine beaches and a rich, distinctive culture I was born a part of. Spirited family gatherings in the rolling hills of the island were the highlight of my year, and I anticipated every summer with enthusiasm.
My sense of entitlement, though, is shared by everyone else who visits Ibiza, because aside from being a rustic paradise, Ibiza is the party capital of the world. Year after year since the 80’s, Ibiza has been a Mecca for the worst sort of tourists in the world: party animals. Twenty-somethings from around the globe flock to Ibiza each year to get wasted and lay waste to the environment in the process, repeating their mantra to any protesters: in Ibiza there are no rules. The deeper problem, though, is that in Ibiza there really are no rules. Decades of laissez-faire politics have created an island with minimal regulation, where excess is not controlled but encouraged by the government. Careless boat owners ruin the water quality by dragging anchors through protected algae, and now the government is threatening to drill for oil off the coast of Ibiza, destroying biodiversity in the sea. Ibiza is beautiful, but soon it won’t be, and only then will the deterioration of the island stop.
Ibiza is only a small representation of a larger picture, however. The negligence of the whole world to our disastrous effect on the environment is starting to have dire consequences, manifesting heavily in Ibiza in the form of droughts, wildfires, and an overall degradation of the environment. Greed and selfishness drive people to look the other way, ignoring the problem for their own personal gain instead of addressing it. This disgusts me. When a fire destroyed Ses Caletes, my favorite spot in the world, I knew I couldn’t wait for another wake up call. My roots are deeply ingrained in Ibiza, and I can’t simply accept the indifference that caused the problem in the first place. Because of this, my goal is to become an environmental lawyer, facing this century’s biggest problem head on and standing up to the people who won’t.