More than a week has passed since the outbreak of the massive wildfires that have wreaked havoc across large parts of the country and darkened our collective mood. The disaster, especially its magnitude, has become evident and sparked a typical toxic debate.
One of the most interesting aspects of that debate is the widespread denial of climate change. The existence of extreme heat and severe drought have been discredited as almost normal and the debate has been reduced to the usual good-versus-evil dichotomy. Sober and meaningful discussion has been defeated.
Most pundits appear to shun the fact that apart from Greece, wildfires have also been raging in Mediterranean Turkey, southern Italy and parts of the Balkan peninsula, while megafires are meanwhile sweeping Canada, the western United States and vast regions of Siberia, whose climate is changing.
The denial of climate change comes as the natural evolution of a pre-existing trend. Over the past few months, the denial of the coronavirus pandemic followed by the resistance to Covid-19 vaccinations have been at odds with reason and science.
The differences between the various types of denial are essentially small. What is most concerning in this case is that denial has spread across a wide range of the old political spectrum. From the reactionary left to the local version of the alt-right movement, a wide front has emerged that opposes reason and argument-based debate.
Notwithstanding the nuances, it is a single front and it exposes the absence of real dividing lines on the basis of ideology or political affiliation. The key currency is the discrediting of “the system,” even if that rather vague concept also embodies fundamental principles of science.
There is not much you can do in the face of such deniers, at least nothing that can produce immediate results. However, the political system could do better to contain another class of deniers that is blossoming in the administration: the deniers of responsibility, (operational as well as political). The prime minister has nothing to be afraid of. He has the absolute privilege of being able to impose even sweeping, groundbreaking changes without taking into account the purported equilibrium. Regrettably, the latest disaster has exposed the mistakes and omissions in the way certain ministries are run.