OPINION

Protecting Europe’s forests from fires

Mankind may have made great progress and technology may be advancing at a dizzying rate but our struggle with the natural elements remains tipped against our favor. Of the massive destruction that has been wreaked on countless occasions, fire damage has been the most devastating. In the event of an earthquake, one has the chance to escape, to hide, to protect oneself. In the event of a flood, one can seek refuge on a raised level. But fire is more wily. It can change direction, reignite, find an ally in the wind, or send a tiny spark far away to start a new blaze just as firefighters believe they have brought it under control. And the various politicians who dismiss superhuman efforts to curb such disastrous blazes by making curt statements about «state indifference» have evidently not witnessed the awesome destructive potential of forest fires firsthand. Fire has always been a formidable opponent. No matter how much care you take, however much you plan ahead, all it takes is one moment, one change in the direction of the wind, and all planning has been rendered useless. Undoubtedly, the authorities of Australia and California are neither useless nor sloppy. And neither are the cities of Sydney and Los Angeles, which have both suffered widespread fire damage, unfortified. The same applies to the Spaniards, Portuguese, French and Italians, who all recently saw forests go up in smoke. Fires have always occurred and will not simply stop. It is the responsibility of the European Union to make a decisive intervention to protect the continent from an imminent ecological catastrophe. The fact is that the European climate is changing. And if the destruction of its forests is not curbed, we will have serious problems in the future. We will all start seeking refuge from soaring temperatures at the seasides of Scotland and other northern destinations. And we cannot simply blame global warming. It is also the responsibility of Europe, whose leaders have failed to organize a joint campaign to curb the scourge of forest fires.