Greek Minister of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Vassilis Kikilias: “Arsonist scum are setting fires that threaten forests, property and, most of all, human lives.”
As disaster response crews, cadaver dogs, and coroners continue to dig through the incinerated rubble of Western Maui, attention is now turning to the massive wildfires burning in Greece that have already claimed 20 lives.
The fact that 79 suspected arsonists have been arrested in connection to these wildfires will make it difficult to explain this away as “climate change.”
Greek authorities have arrested dozens of people on arson-related charges as deadly wildfires – the largest ever recorded in the European Union – rage across the country.
Wildfires in Mount Parnitha, north of the Greek capital Athens, are still out of control Friday, with more forest destroyed overnight.
The biggest fire front line in Greece remains near the northeastern town of Alexandroupolis, in the Evros region.
The burned body of a man was found on a rural road near Dadia national park, near the border with Turkey, state media AMNA reported Friday.
Earlier this week, 18 people were found dead near a village in northern Greece. The fire brigade said Tuesday they may have been migrants. Another person was killed in a fire northwest of the capital Athens on Monday.
Greek Minister of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Vassilis Kikilias strongly condemned the arson suspects. Additionally, it appears other fires were started due to agricultural work.
“Arsonist scum are setting fires that threaten forests, property and, most of all, human lives,” Kikilias said in a televised statement on Thursday. “You are committing a crime against the country. You will not get away with it. We will find you and you will be held accountable.”
Authorities have made 140 wildfire-related arrests so far, including 117 for negligence and 23 for deliberate arson. Almost all were for heat-inducing or agricultural outdoor work, according to the Hellenic Fire Service, the national agency for fire and rescue service.
Personally, I would like the media to give a big apology to those of us in the new media who have demanded assessments for arson and then deemed “climate deniers,” with our claims and associated analysis suppressed.
The media said climate change, not arson, was behind the fires in Greece. They lied. They have egg on their face now that 160 people have been arrested for arson. pic.twitter.com/XvCC4nwWbi
— Michael Shellenberger (@shellenberger) August 27, 2023
I will not hold my breath.
However, that does not mean the press will not try and interject “climate crisis” pseudoscience in its reports about these historic fires. This is from a BBC report.
Summer wildfires are common in Greece and scientists have linked the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, including heatwaves, to climate change.
Stefan Doerr, who directs the Centre for Wildfire Research at Swansea University, says that more flammable landscapes – due to hot weather or poor vegetation management – mean that arson and other incidents can more easily turn into fast-moving wildfires.
When the smoke clears, and serious determinations about root causes are made, it will likely be discovered Big Government demands and bureaucratic corruption helped fan these flames, just as happened in Maui.
Does Greece’s problematic historical development contribute to this particular type of disaster? The short answer is yes, it does. The explanation for how areas of Greece burst into flame each year is not simply a question of poor ecological management, building standards, fire prevention and firefighting capabilities. This explanation rests with the law and its enforcement.
In Greece, there is a lot of unused land classed as agricultural or forest. Greece has a complex, antiquated and incomplete legal land title system, where efforts to create a land registry (or cadastre) have been ongoing since the early 2000s and are still not even close to completion. Add in the pervasive corruption of land registry offices, forestry commissions and relevant state administration, and what you get is an opportunity for real estate development.
In western Europe, it is generally not possible to build without first obtaining appropriate permits. Those who try to do so without permission are frequently discovered, stopped, fined, and even forced to alter or demolish what they’ve built. The severe legal and financial implications of building illegally makes this only a very limited problem.
In Greece, however, you could clear up a bit of brushland or cut down a section of forest, put down the foundation for a building, connect utilities by bribing local officials, and then wait for the amnesty for illegal buildings that tends to come around periodically, usually close to a general election. The latest legalisation effort has been lauded as a revenue raising exercise, regardless of consequences in other areas such as – coincidentally – ecological management and fire security. And so enterprising sorts take advantage of fire to the forest, removing the barrier so that they can build homes, without care for regulations, in inaccessible areas, on land they often do not own. The forest burns, people die, developers build, and votes are won.
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