Greece is burning. Prime Minister Mitsotakis is sorry. Restitution and accountability are in the works. But Greece is still burning. Meanwhile, thousands are now homeless, and fire still rampages across swaths of the country. An Instagram share from a lady enveloped in the catastrophe reminds us of what hell must be like.
“At grief so deep the tongue must wag in vain; the language of our sense and memory lacks the vocabulary of such pain.” – Dante, Inferno
The images and video are Apocalyptic, out of some dystopian disaster movie, but stunning in their harsh reality. While thousands flee their villages and homes, the Greek leadership promises financial aid to those left homeless and assures the public that those who made mistakes will not go unpunished. As if anyone but the country’s leadership is responsible for a mediocre response to disasters.
Greece and Turkey have been devastated by wildfires for almost two weeks now as the whole region experiences its worst heatwave in decades. In Greece, temperatures have climbed as high as 45C (113F). The interactive map below from NASA shows the devastation not only in Greece but throughout the region.
Evia Island is burnt to a crisp as fires rage on even after many on the mainland have been suppressed. Officials on the island are calling for more help as the fires show no sign of slowing thus far. Residents fear all will be lost if there is no relief soon. Giannis Kontzias, who is the mayor of the municipality of Istiaia in the northern part of Evia, told local news: “It’s already too late, the area has been destroyed.”
Kontzias called for Civil Protection Chief Nikos Hardalias to dispatch more planes and helicopters, but the minister gave the excuse that low visibility and other hurdles were preventing the government from sending more flights in. Meanwhile, EU member countries have now deployed nine more planes, close to 1,000 firefighters, and 200 vehicles to help Greece put out the fires. On the ground, the tragedy is up close, personal, and deadly serious as firefighters struggle to save the forests, homes, animals, and people in the path of the flames.
The harrowing scene from a video shot from aboard an evacuation ferry rescuing Evia Island residents and tourists brings home to roost, the fact that global warming is a real threat to our survival. It is unfathomable for me, that Mitsotakis and other leaders have not done more to better prepared civil and military efforts to combat what was inevitable. The accountability for the degree of devastation we are now witnessing rests with the highest level of government, not some minister who is in the dog house of the New Democracy administration. It’s not as if all the world’s leaders have been left in the dark about global warming.
In the midst of all the suffering in Greece, Turkey, Italy, Spain, Lebanon, Russia, and other hard-hit regions, the United Nations released a landmark 1,300-page report on Monday finding that humans have pushed the climate change clock forward in unprecedented fashion and that the worst is still to come. According to the world’s top climate scientists, we have already crossed the line for some irreversible changes to our planet’s climate, and the situation is becoming direr all the time. U.N. Secretary-General, António Guterres described the report as “a code red for humanity.”
So far, over half a million acres have been destroyed by these wildfires. Thousands of homes and businesses have been destroyed. And on the internet, there are “Pray for Greece” memes everywhere on social media.