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Officials responsible for protecting the Greek capital from rising temperatures criticized world political leaders for “criminally lack of preparation” because the Mediterranean region experienced one of the hottest summers on record.
The chief thermal officer of Athens, Eleni Myrivili, said that the fire that has spread to the outskirts of the city and destroyed more than 120,000 hectares of land in the Aegean countries is just a sign of what is about to happen.
“This is… She said in an interview with the Financial Times that due to climate change and insufficient preparations for extreme high temperatures, irreversible damage, the beginning of the destruction of ecosystems and livelihoods.
“Greece, as well as the rest of the world, it is best to build some strong resistance to rapid heating, because this summer is just the beginning.”
This summer, from Turkey to France, Italy and Spain, and North Africa, the entire Mediterranean region is fighting waves of devastating wildfires.
Experts say that climate change intensified the record heatwave is the main reason, although several people have been arrested on suspicion of arson related to the Greek fire. Last week, the hottest temperature ever recorded in Europe was 48.8 degrees Celsius in Sicily.
A few cities such as Athens and Miami-Dade County in the United States and Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, have appointed a dedicated chief thermal officer to provide a coordination center for responding to rising temperatures.
Myrivili serves as the mayor’s advisor and chief resilience officer and interim chief thermal officer to prepare Europe’s hottest capital for more frequent heat waves.
The fire burned for several weeks on the edge of Athens, which has nearly 4 million inhabitants, and continued to threaten the capital on Wednesday.Severe wildfires also destroyed local property and livelihoods Evia, the second largest island in Greece.
Although extreme heat is the biggest threat that comes with climate change, “almost no preparation… no one is prepared for cities to deal with global warming,” Myrivili said.
At the same time, the scale of the fire this summer provided an opportunity for policymakers to respond. “If it weren’t for the fire, we would have nothing that the media could report,” she said, noting that other effects, such as deaths related to high temperatures, were less obvious and often delayed.
“Heat waves need to be more specific in people’s minds-they are invisible,” she said.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has approved a 500 million euro rescue plan after initially having to apologize for the delay in firefighting efforts. He also appointed a new minister to be responsible for recovering from natural disasters.
In an interview with CNN last weekend, he described the fire in Greece as “a wake-up call” that completely changed electricity production, construction, agriculture, and transportation. “This must happen, we need to start now,” he said.
According to data from the C40 Alliance of World Cities, by 2050, the average summer temperature in more than 970 cities around the world will reach 35 degrees Celsius. In contrast, today this number is only a little over one-third. The number of people in the world exposed to this temperature will also increase to 1.6 billion, a jump of 800%.
“We are in a crisis, we saw it this summer, and people are suffering,” Myrivili said. “We have to make sure that we protect the most vulnerable people. It is always the most vulnerable people who have to deal with it.”