Fact check Malta: Do these ‘Roman-era’ baths disprove climate change?

Social media users have recently shared a photo on social media that they claim shows ‘Roman tidal baths’ in Malta that disprove climate change.

One X user sharing the photo wrote ‘Roman tidal baths on Malta – still at sea level after thousands of years. But – climate change is about to kill us all. Right?’ The post has been viewed around 2.6 million times.

An X post about the supposed ‘Roman tidal baths

A Facebook user sharing the photo wrote a post in the same vein: ‘Roman tidal baths in Malta, still at sea level after thousands of years! Best ask what your children are being taught.’

A Facebook post spreading similar misinformation

Both posts, which are examples of climate change denial, have been flagged on the platforms – by the platform itself in the case of Facebook, and by other users in the case of X. They have also been debunked by fact-checking websites.

As Politifact reports, the posts were off the mark by a few thousand years. Although the rocky structures are generally referred to as Roman baths, they actually date back to the Victorian era. Several sources confirm this, including Malta’s Department of Information, the news site MaltaToday, and Atlas Obscura

Malta became a British colony in the 19th century, and the habit of seaside bathing – loved by the British for its believed health benefits – grew fashionable among the more well-off along the island’s coast. These pools were likely a detached extension of seaview residences.

Close-up of 1851 map of ‘British Possessions in the Mediterranean’ showing Malta, by engraver John Rapkin (taken from Wikimedia Commons)

A reverse image search also helped identify the original source of the photo being shared. Like Politifact, our search results included an April 2019 Instagram post by media site Thrillist, which identified the photographer. From there, we were also able to go directly to the photographer’s Instagram page and found that she had posted the photo in March 2019.

And what about the issue of the seemingly stagnant sea level?

Needless to say, it’s also false, even if the social media users making the claims had got the historical period right.

Several international scientific and environmental bodies confirm that climate change is affecting sea level. According to the European Environment Agency, the global mean sea level has risen about 21cm since 1900. 

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Environment, Fact Check, Science

Author(s): Department of Media and Communications

Originally published here.