Greece was nearly stricken by wildfires in August. The results were absolutely disastrous. The fire not only ravaged homes and tracts of land, but at least 20 people have died in the flames this week alone. Civil Protection Minister Vassilis Kikilias has spoken of Greece’s worst summer since fire risk maps were introduced in 2009. Thousands of people had to flee a fire on the island of Rhodes last month. The massive fire near the port city of Alexandroupolis is the biggest the EU has ever seen, according to EU Crisis Protection Commissioner Janez Lenarcik.
At the same time, warnings about the dire consequences of climate change did not want to die down. Cardinal Christoph Schönborn also intervened – eXXpress reports. The Archbishop of Vienna also warned, referring to Greece, “Heat waves and wildfires are a clear sign: the Earth is warming!” “We cannot carry on like before. It affects all of us.”
The background, as it now turns out, is indeed human, only it is much more immediate: there is no talk of human influence on the climate, but only of arson. Trees don’t usually catch fire on their own.
Greek police have already arrested 79 people and literally speak of “arsonist scum”. Minister Kikilias said there had been several attempts by arsonists to start new fires on Mount Parnitha, northwest of Athens. The fire was one of hundreds across the country.
He makes serious allegations against arsonists (not climate sinners): “You are committing a crime against the country. Arsonists start fires that threaten forests, property and most importantly human life,” he told Greeks during a televised crisis session. “You will not escape unscathed, we will find you and hold you accountable”.
In fact, hot weather can encourage fires to spread more quickly, making the consequences of arson more severe. Poor management also plays a role – which, however, has nothing to do with climate. Fact is: high temperatures are almost never the cause of fires.
Michael Müller, a forest protection expert at the Technical University of Dresden, says: 98 percent of all fires are caused by humans, 60 percent of them were set intentionally (eg by arson). Initially, it has nothing to do with the climate – eXXpress reported.