When Barack Obama was still president of the United States, I happened to ask one of his close aides the classic question: “What keeps the president awake at night?” He said, “Climate change and the huge economic, social and geopolitical consequences that it will entail.”
I have to say I was rather surprised at his response, as climate change wasn’t the hot topic that it is today. Today, however, everything seems to suggest that it will be one of the defining issues of our times.
Climate change has become the main concern of the younger generations, and it seems it is the main issue that can spur them into action. The great majority of young people used to be strangers to politics and protest. Now politics is entering their lives as they realize that the decisions of those who rule the world, whether it is politicians or corporations, will decide their own future.
Climate change will also affect Greece in many ways. A large number of studies have analyzed its impact in a scientific, substantiated manner. It will take courageous decisions, enormous investments and systematic preparation if the country is to contribute to a solution to the problem, as well as to contain potential repercussions related to extreme weather phenomena and changing weather patterns.
The appearance of sudden and severe rainstorms and the flash floods they cause require a solid local administration in Greece which can ensure there is no uncontrolled construction in dried-out riverbeds and no poorly constructed and potentially hazardous structures, and ensure the installation of adequate flood-prevention works. Civil protection has become a top-priority issue for the European Union and every mature state. The country’s civil protection apparatus must be staffed with top-rate professionals, not party-affiliated officials or veteran unionists from the security forces.
We need to understand that extreme weather phenomena will from now on be the rule and not the exception. For this reason we need to demand of our politicians that they take the issue seriously and do what they can to contain the disaster and safeguard the Greek state with professionalism and technocratic methodology. We are faced with a huge problem. A weak state can easily collapse at the first flood or uncontrolled fire. The experience is painfully familiar.