The news of the Greek fires continues to distress. On my return from work I was quizzed relentlessly about them though I know little. In an article in Open Democracy Chronis Polychroniou makes the point that this is a political scandal as much as an ecological catastrophe.
Greek governments' lack of political will and governing capacity in dealing with the problem of forest fires (including those started deliberately) represents the national disgrace of the entire political and judicial system.
Polychroniou closes with a dramatic plea.
It is a genuine shame that a country that gave form and shape to democracy and civil virtue and once prided itself on the cultivation of aesthetics as the true meaning of life today displays astounding mental perversity in sacrificing the environment and its ecological system on the altar of greed and political clientilism.
This is a true Greek tragedy. May the wind-breathing gods of change come to life and spare my country from the political ecology of disaster. If they do not, even worse is to come.
My Greek friend has made similar points. As for myself, my affection for the country and its people is undimmed and the scenes are heart-rending. The big test will be when the fires are out. Will complacency slip back in? The same question applies to the flooded areas of Britain and I am not hopeful.
Political ecology is a profoundly serious issue that should not be left in the hands of the crystal waving neo-pagans. The political challenges it mounts are complex and increasingly pressing. In Greece and Hull this summer we saw two reasons why wishful thinking is an inadequate response. Surely it should be central to the vision of a reconstructed, anti-totalitarian left.