Greece needs a new ‘response culture’ to avoid disasters during extreme weather events a Greek scientist said with regards to the wildfires in Athens the cost the life of 91 people. “It is certain that in a 30-year cycle, every resident of eastern Attica and his property will come face to face with an extreme phenomenon, such as dangerous fire, at least once,” Thessaly TEI Deputy Rector Professor Michalis Vrachnakis said in an interview with the state news agency amna on Sunday.
“Greece is not the only country unable to deal with extreme weather events and the image of Greece as a disorganised country where an extreme phenomenon will inevitably lead to massive damage and deaths is unfair, ” Vrachnakis added.
“Recently in an organised country such as Japan we had more than 80 dead due to heat strokes, as a result of an extended heat wave. When a weather phenomenon is extreme then incredible reflexes and coordination are required to deal with it,” he pointed out.
Climate change and extreme weather were here to stay, however, and systems dealing with such needed to be revised in order to take this into account, Vrachnakis added, talking about the need for a new “response culture”.
Especially when urban spaces extended into dry, flammable zones of pine and evergreen vegetation, as seen in eastern Attica, the local population had to be trained on how to behave and respond before, during and after a fire, he said.
“It is certain that in a 30-year cycle, every resident of eastern Attica and his property will come face to face with an extreme phenomenon, such as dangerous fire, at least once. Here we have to realise that climate change is now the rule … The infrastructure that has been created in urban landscapes is not fully compatible with extreme weather phenomena since it was built to deal with mild climate conditions. There is a need for new thoughts about planning and implementation that take climate change, which is now at our door, into account,” he said. amna