Extreme weather: how can we save ourselves?
Heat, drought, fires and floods — Europe is severely and increasingly affected by extreme weather phenomena. Commentators analyse failures and debate how these obvious consequences of climate change can be addressed swiftly and effectively.
Life in a permanent crisis
Giorgos Rakkas, political scientist, sociologist and municipal councillor for the We Live in Thessaloniki parliamentary group, comments in HuffPost Greece:
“Climate events are becoming more intense and more frequent. And the upheaval of the existing climate equilibrium is contributing to a ‘permanent crisis’. ... On this issue: the climate catastrophe will have a major impact on economies such as ours. Even before the outbreak of the Evros blaze, Allianz Insurance estimated that heat waves and the resulting fires would cost Greece 0.9 percent of its GDP. And a detailed report in The Economist described how the strong tourism industry in southern Europe is at risk.”
Need for radical action like during the pandemic
In an article in La Libre Belgique, engineer Gianni Farini calls for the measures against climate change to be similarly radical to those against Covid:
“Individual gestures are welcome and helpful, but seem insufficient at this stage. If appropriate (rather than excessive, as in China) and timely measures were able to prevent an even higher number of Covid victims, they can also succeed in preventing the foreseeable climate disaster. In temporal terms, the fight against climate change may be less urgent than that against Covid was at the time, but the consequences will be all the more dramatic.”
Our future is at stake
In eldiario.es, Fernando Prieto, an environmental scientist with the Spanish NGO Observatory for Sustainability (OS), bemoans a lack of resolve:
“In the recent election campaign, which took place in the middle of a heat wave and extremely high temperatures, there was practically no diagnosis, and the solutions proposed by the four major parties fell far short of what is required to confront the vital and major challenge posed by the climate crisis. ... One would think that the dreadful summer of 2022, with its 42 heat waves, according to AEMET [the Spanish State Meteorological Agency], would make people take the situation seriously, but that was not the case. The summer of 2023 has set records across the globe in terms of temperatures and extreme weather. ... We need to take decisive action against the fossil fuel industry and adapt all sectors to climate change. Our future is at stake.”
Constructed without regard for nature
In Bulgaria, floods south of the port city of Burgas have caused severe damage to roads and bridges. Deutsche Welle’s Bulgarian service criticises the building authorities for failing to adequately regulate the excessive construction along the coast:
“One of the reasons why institutions exist is to defend long-term public welfare against short-term interests. From now on, only these institutions will be able to ensure that the local population of the municipality of Tsarevo [south of Burgas] does not destroy the natural environment out of greed. So far, however, they are doing exactly what the locals expect: repeating how dreadful the natural disaster is and promising money.”