ABU DHABI: A local English-language newspaper has said that as wildfires continue to ravage regions at both ends of the Mediterranean, "the world is confronted with an alarming and undeniable truth – we are in the midst of a climate emergency".
In an editorial on Wednesday, The National said, "The deaths of more than 30 people in Algeria alone are a brutal warning about what the future may hold unless decisive action hinders the worst effects of global warming.
"The country's meteorological services are already saying a record heatwave will hit Algeria in the coming days, with temperatures forecast to hit 48ºC. Algeria's fires have also spread to neighbouring Tunisia, endangering lives in the border city of Tabarka as the authorities try to fight back the flames."
Meanwhile, Greece is reported to be going through the largest evacuation of people in its modern history, as fires destroy homes and businesses across islands as far apart as Rhodes in the Aegean and Corfu in the Ionian Sea. A Greek firefighting plane crashed yesterday as it tackled blazes on another island, Evia, east of Athens.
"Although dozens of people have already lost their lives in the North African fires, a lot of the international attention – as well as shock and surprise – has been focused on the blazes in Greece, where thousands of mostly European tourists have been left frightened and upset at the danger that suddenly sprang up around them," the daily added.
It continued, "Sadly, the reality is that millions of people in the developing world have been living with the deadly consequences of climate change for several years now. Floods, droughts, extreme heat, crop failure, increasing disease – and fires – have been regular occurrences for too many people for too long.
"The truth is that no part of our world will be left untouched by the planet's rapidly changing climate."
If the problem is global, then so must be the solutions. The kind of initiatives and dialogue being championed in the UAE – a country used to mitigating searing heat and which is preparing to host the COP28 UN climate conference – should be taken on board by any remaining legislators who either doubt climate change or regard it as a developing-world problem.
Last week, Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and President-designate of COP28, urged more countries to join a pledge to deliver more sustainable cooling solutions.
At the International Conference on Development and Migration in Rome on Sunday, the UAE pledged $100 million to help countries manage irregular migration, a phenomenon often driven by climate change and its effects.
"There is no more room for complacency. This week's fires have revealed what many knew already from first-hand experience: that climate change knows no borders. The cooperation needed to head off the increasing threat of global warming will need to be similarly international," concluded the Abu Dhabi-based daily.