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26 May, 2024
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The Mediterranean's wake-up call

Preparing for extreme weather in Cyprus. ''What if it had gone east and reached Cyprus, instead of Libya?''

Apostolis Tomaras

Apostolis Tomaras

The devastating aftermath of the natural disaster in the Thessalian Plain leaves no one untouched. We cannot afford complacency in the face of such a biblical catastrophe, merely observing from the safety of our couches. While the affected communities struggle to recover, the repercussions of this disaster extend beyond their boundaries. Greece is bracing for challenging times ahead, with significant impacts on both its societal fabric and key economic sectors. However, the storm Daniel offers valuable lessons that resonate throughout the Mediterranean region.

The severity of weather phenomena, even in Cyprus' vicinity, should not breed complacency. Spain's recent ordeal with what's being termed a firestorm already ripples across the entire Mediterranean region. In the economic realm, unprecedented price hikes for various agricultural products, like olive oil, result from the destruction of vital agricultural assets due to fires. Greece will likely experience similar challenges in the near future.

The Thessalian plain traditionally supplied 25% of the country's essential food production to the market, with a substantial portion earmarked for export. Signs of an agricultural market crisis will emerge in the coming months as reduced production disrupts the supply-demand equilibrium, leading to price escalations. This crisis isn't expected to be short-lived, considering experts' predictions that the plain may take up to five years to recover.

However, the paramount lesson from the storm is the urgent need to safeguard human lives from the wrath of nature, a concern shared by all Mediterranean nations. The events this summer in Cyprus were far from reassuring, with vast areas ravaged by fires. Who can guarantee that the scenes witnessed in the Thessaly Plain, Spain, Italy, and Portugal won't unfold in Cyprus? There's no time for grand declarations. Cyprus must prepare for extreme weather events. What if Storm Daniel, instead of Libya, had headed eastward? Urban residents remember the recent torrential rains that accompanied just one-third of the last storm's intensity. How will the inhabitants of the fire-ravaged areas protect themselves from mudslides and burns? Unless immediate action is taken by the government, we may face experiences similar to those of central Greece.

Strengthening flood protection infrastructure becomes an urgent necessity that cannot be delayed. Special attention must be given to the areas that have burned or are in proximity to them. Local communities and authorities play a crucial role in preparing for the impending winter. The era of mild weather is over, and without comprehensive measures at the central level, extreme weather events will become part of daily life.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]


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