Greece torched

Greece torched

Mount Penteli, Lesvos, Ilia, Rethymno, Messinia, Halkidiki, Dadia…Has the whole country turned into a torch that lights up with the smallest spark and only goes out when it has been reduced to ashes? If we believe our eyes, the answer is, unfortunately, yes. If we trust government pronouncements – identical from every administration every four years, delivered with the same inappropriate smiles as the nightmare acquires the regularity of permanence – the state machine is “well-prepared” and is doing an “excellent” job of dealing with the fires.

Hardly anyone denies the climate crisis anymore. It is acknowledged even by those who until recently dismissed Greta Thunberg as “hysterical” and like-minded people as “snowflakes,” as well as by those who engage in pro-environmental discourse just as they plot to instal wind turbines on a Natura 2000 site. Indeed, the rise in temperatures and prolonged droughts, the result of human intervention, threaten to turn, not only Europe – whose South has been burning for weeks – but the entire world into a desert. However, the climate crisis may explain a lot, but it does not justify anything – not in Spain, not in Portugal, not in California, and certainly not in our country.

One cannot use the profound disturbance of the climate as an alibi. It is an urgent distress signal, and a cause for self-criticism and reflection regarding the wasteful life and carefree, greedy mentality that has prevailed everywhere. The climate crisis is not to blame for the fact that the forest of Dadia has been burning for five days because, among other things, there had been no maintenance of the dam there, which would have allowed firefighting aircraft to collect water without delay. You cannot blame the “rough terrain” for the fact that it took the uncoordinated ministers four days to reach Evros, as if to confirm that it is in the country’s farthest reaches. The greenhouse effect is not to blame for the staff shortages in the fire service, which are in dramatic contrast to the excessive number of police officers.

It is not just the strong winds that make blazes seem invincible. Politicians are also to blame. Here’s one example: Last November, firefighters, still reeling from the devastating wildfires in Evia and Attica, demonstrated in central Athens, calling for more staff and full-time contracts. Instead of being heard, they got tear gassed and sprayed by a water cannon. Someone was certainly well-prepared…

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