What the fires indicate: We have to stop the climate crisis

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DSIP’s analysis, call for struggle and demands:

We have witnessed 63 wildfires in 21 provinces in two days and new fires continue to break out. Despite the brave struggles of temporarly employed forestry workers, firefighters and citizens, irreparable losses have been suffered. Şahin Akdemir, who voluntarily carried drinking water to the firefighters in the fire in Marmaris, lost his life when hewas caught in the flames. Large numbers of animals were killed, wildlife and biodiversity were severely destroyed. Many people's lives have been turned upside down, three people have died.

The initial reactions to the fires, which quickly reached alarming proportions and occurred almost simultaneously in dozens of places, showed that this alarming situation was assessed on a local/regional basis. In general, there is a possibility of sabotage in wildfires. [Claims have been widespread, as they are every summer, that the fires were started by the PKK!] But planet-wide fires show that the initial superficial reactions only serve to disguise those responsible. Even Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said that no traces of sabotage were found and that the fires were due to the extreme heat.

A global fire

Forests are not on fire only in Turkey; the whole world is on fire. Since 2018, we have been witnessing climate catastrophes that have increased in severity, frequency and duration and experienced by some as scorching heatwaves and some as violent storms and floods. We knew we would start experiencing extreme weather conditions in a warming world. We also knew that the number of regions experiencing heatwaves would increase and that these heatwaves would become hotter and hotter. We have also known for many years that warming will cause devastating hurricanes and typhoons, wildfires, severe droughts and floods.

When we said that Australia, which was engulfed in flames last year, presented us with a terrible part of our near future; we also said, “We can't go on like this”. “The wait-and-see approach is not smart at all.” We saw the Bahamas devastated by Hurricane Dorian, the deaths of hundreds of people in the Pacific Northwest, which suffered 50 degrees Celsius, due to the phenomenon called the 'heat dome', wildfires that could not be extinguished in Canada and the USA, the European countries where rain storms are taking place. We saw 20 children in a school in Pakistan faint due to heat stress.

In the last few years, we have successively experienced the hottest May, June and July of all time. In Siberia, it was 10 degrees above the seasonal normals. Wildfires caused by overheating broke out last summer too. The fires spawned “zombie flames” in Siberia. Recently, we have witnessed devastating floods that have turned streets into rivers in Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and the UK. We saw that people drowned and 33 people died on subway trains in China due to flood waters. Scientists said the extreme heat in the Pacific Northwest and Australia were “exactly what we expected”.

Process of climate disasters

Unfortunately, the effects of the climate crisis have now turned into clearly measurable values. Climate catastrophes this year indicate that the increase in warming exceeds even the ‘worst-case scenarios’ of predicted climate models.

As a result of the leaking of the draft of a part of the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is planned to be presented in 2022, we saw that “the worst is yet to come”. It is confirmed that scorching temperatures will become the ‘new normal’, infectious diseases will become widespread in the near future, ecosystems will begin to collapse, and warming will accelerate. In the draft report, which predicts that all this will come into effect in a maximum of 30 years, it is said that we do not have time to spend in inertia: All critical thresholds that will accelerate the climate crisis have either been passed or are about to be passed!

A government detached from reality

We are experiencing environmental destruction due to the fact that the government, which does not take the climate crisis seriously even when a decrease in drinking water resources and new crises in access to water and food are expected, was not prepared for the foreseeable wildfires. We are paying the price of the state's lack of infrastructure and measures, as in any disaster, earthquake, flood or pandemic.

Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Pakdemirli says, “We don't have firefighting aircraft in our inventory,” and it turns out that the trustee appointed to the head of the Turkish Aeronautical Association went to a wedding and did not care at all about what happened. In a country where the president has 13 planes, there are three planes to fight fires. The remaining aircraft appear to be helicopters. However, helicopters have limited impact, while planes can release water over a larger area, which allows the flames to be contained.

Privatisation kills!

The political responsibility for the fires that raged for days in Muğla in 2019 has now been seen once again. The job of extinguishing fires, like every other public service, was put out to tender and handed over to a private company. This company had won the tender with helicopters leased from Canada and elsewhere. The Turkish Aeronautical Association with 9 aircraft, which entered the tender, was eliminated due to a technical reason. The main reason why today's fires could not be brought under control, as in 2019, is that the company that won the tender does not have the appropriate vehicles. Fires are expected to occur more frequently, but early intervention systems are also inadequate.

The government, which implements projects that will increase the severity of the disasters caused by the climate crisis, can only think of asking for donations from the public in the face of disasters: the government, which cause our seas to be covered with mucilage and fails to respond to the wildfires and continues to please the construction companies while the cities covered with concrete surrender to the scorching heat, is asking the public for money to fight the destruction caused by the fire!

Even as the floods in the Eastern Black Sea region sweep away agricultural land and destroy everything in their way, the government continues marketing the region to construction companies and to carry out the Hydroelectric Power Station (HES) projects that cause floods and environmental disasters. Not only does the government not give up on investing in fossil fuels, it also says that it will continue to concentrate on thermal power plant projects, which we know are making losses due to high fuel costs. Moreover, it subsidizes a significant part of the “growth in coal” with our taxes.

Resources should be spent on fighting the climate crisis and fires, not militarism!

The state has drones, armed drones, S-400s, but not firefighting aircraft. Besides, wildfires cannot be extinguished simply by spraying water from the air. A large number of forest workers need to create a buffer zone to prevent the spread of the fire, while at the same time blocking it with pressurized water from the ground.

When there are millions of people who cannot find a job, the number of employees affiliated to the General Directorate of Forestry is only 34,054 people. And these workers are on temporary contracts with low wages and no job security.

The government builds palaces, but does not employ the unemployed to protect forests:

  • The security of forests should not be left to private companies. 
  • The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry should have sufficient numbers of firefighting aircraft and necessary vehicles.
  • Seasonal forest workers should be put on full-time contracts, and at least 15 thousand firefighters should be employed by the Ministry.
  • Burnt areas should not be used for other purposes, and should be taken under protection for ecological restoration.
  • All kinds of commercial activity and activities that destroy the forest ecosystem should be stopped.
  • Those who govern Turkey must put an end to the fossil fuel consumption that fuels the climate crisis.
  • No to nuclear power! The fires show how dangerous the power plant under construction in Akkuyu is.
  • Don't ask the public for money, tax the capitalists! Stop transferring resources to bosses, raising prices, and making the poor pay the bill for the pandemic, the climate crisis and the fires.
  • Stop appointing trustees. Sack Cenap Aşçı, the Chief Trustee of the Turkish Aeronautical Association, who was revealed to have attended a wedding while the forests were burning!

Revolutionary Socialist Worker Party (DSIP)