OPINION

Climate crisis and ‘Greek peculiarities’ 

climate-crisis-and-greek-peculiarities

With hundreds of square kilometers charred in Greece, hundreds of homes and businesses destroyed and many of our fellow citizens suddenly becoming an environmental refugee or internally displaced person, stripped of all property, it is impossible to believe the narratives of self-admiration that are circulating with titles such as “We are doing great,” or “Our firefighting is exemplary.” Those who continue to make these arguments are simply inciting the indignation of the fire victims.

Of course we are paying the price of climate change, along with many parts of the world, in the Mediterranean, the Balkans, California, Yakutia. The climate crisis, however, is not today’s or yesterday’s news. It is already old. It can therefore serve as a complementary explanation, but not as an unshakable excuse. It is a fact that has become a nightmare – not an alibi.

The climate crisis is not the sole reason that the island of Evia has been burning for a week, essentially defenseless, as evidenced by the anxious appeals and sharp complaints of those who stayed behind to save their burning villages due to a lack of trust in the state, but also of many local officials – even pro-government. It’s not the heatwave’s fault that the fire in Varybobi was rekindled with the weakest wind, clearly much weaker than what the self-acquitting ministers and the willfully blind and deaf pro-government media claimed.

And to remember the infamous “Greek peculiarities,” the climate crisis is not responsible for the police brigadier who was suspended after he responded to a plea for a firefighting vehicle in the region of Gortynia with the question: “Do you have a political connections?”

It is not fair to blame the changes in nature for the fact that it took several hours for the Shipping Ministry to realize that it was not right for fire victims who were escaping the blaze in northern Evia to crowd at the port of Edipsos to buy a ferry ticket.

Finally – though there’s so much more – it is not ethical to blame the heatwave for the answer given by the chief of the fire brigade (head of the EMAKSpecial Disaster Unit and responsible for coordination in the 2018 tragedy in Mati): “I was on [Mount] Parnitha and I was not monitoring very well what was happening in Evia.” Seriously?