ATHENS – A study about global heating that included a Greek severe weather analyst said that while climate change was a factor in Greece’s deadly floods that wiped out a big chunk of its agricultural heartland, the human factor was just as strong.
Carbon pollution led to heavier rains and stronger floods in Greece and Libya but the report said the failure to have anti-flood or mitigating measures in place made the catastrophes even worse.
Global heating made rainfall that devastated the Mediterranean in early September up to 50 times more likely in Libya and up to 10 times more likely in Greece, said the study by World Weather Attribution that used established methods not peer-reviewed, said the British newspaper The Guardian.
The group of scientists and researchers who jump into examining extreme weather events found that people become more vulnerable by building homes on floodplains, chopping down trees and not maintaining dams.
“The Mediterranean is a hotspot of climate-change-fuelled hazards,” said Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at Imperial College London and co-author of the report that pointed out the fatal combination of nature and humans.
While researchers found it harder to quantify the role of climate change in this study than they did for recent wildfires and heat waves, she added, “There is absolutely no doubt that reducing vulnerability and increasing resilience to all types of extreme weather is paramount for saving lives in the future”.
In Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey, the rains were up to 40 percent heavier because of global heating, the scientists found, the paper said, the rains that fell generally seen only once in a decade or longer
In the central Greece region of Thessaly, where most of the damage took place, such an event could now be expected every 80-100 years, and was so severe it was likened to a Biblical-era catastrophe.
Vassiliki Kotroni, a Research Director at the National Observatory of Athens and co-author, described the floods as a “breaking point,” urging early warning systems and “design of resilient infrastructures in the era of climate change”.
Changes to the landscape made the Greek floods more damaging, the report found, urbanization and deforestation resulting in less nature to soak up storm waters that flooded homes.
While the New Democracy government was charged by political rivals and critics with not ensuring that anti-flood measures were carried out at the local level it blamed municipalities and there’s no accounting of where 240 million euros ($256.41 million) went – spent on other projects or pocketed.