Published on October 16th, 2017 | by Jose Pontes0
A “Vision of Hell”
October 16th, 2017 by Jose Pontes
Over weekend, on the way back from Porto, we had a “vision of hell” — it had been a long time since we had such a stressful road trip.
At 4:00 pm on Sunday, we decided to go back earlier than usual, as storm Ophelia was said to arrive to our shores during the night.
The weather was unusually hot, 35°C, and windy. This kind of temperature is already considered a heatwave during the summer in the Northwest of Portugal, but now imagine how unusual it is in the middle of October.
Everything was dry, due to an unusually long drought that has been going on for months.
We headed south to Lisbon and got on the nearest highway, while watching three wildfires on the horizon.
Turns out, one of them was crossing the highway we were on and we passed by the middle of it, watching flames several meters high on both sides. A few minutes later, we heard on the radio that the point we had just crossed had been closed to traffic.
We continued on our southerly route, and some 10 kilometers on, the highway signs warned that some kilometers ahead the highway was closed and we had to get out via the nearest exit.
We got off the highway and we got on again via the next entrance, while the sky was pitch black because of the fumes.
We continued on our way to Lisbon and for over 150 kilometers we had an average of two or three wildfires on the horizon, crossing two of them in short distance.
Only in the final stage of the trip did we have clear skies and no fires.
When we got home, we saw on the news that 20 roads and at least 3 highways were blocked due to wildfires, and there were 8 people dead. (The latest news now reports over 30 victims.)
This was another tragedy, like the one we had in June, and most likely a preview of the hell (Extreme heatwaves, long droughts, wildfires everywhere, etc.) that is looming on the horizon due to climate change.
(The original title of this article was supposed to be: “Game of Thrones: What do Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have to do with Portugal’s Wildfires?”, but this is too serious to be written around the Hunger Games that politics have transformed into. Although, I left this last part of the text for you to read.)
While talking this morning with a couple of would-be Trump supporters, they have equally expressed their outrage about what happened, but while I was reflecting on climate change and its consequences, their concerns were the people that started the fires, saying stuff like:
“They should be caught and hanged!”
While those extreme measures are out place in this day and age, they do raise an important question:
How can we fight the immediate consequences of climate change?
While it is important to think about where we are headed, we also have to think about the here and now — in this case, how to avoid wildfires.
And in these cases, both sides of the political landscape have responsibilities. Something needs to be done, because if climate change is not everyone’s cup of tea, its consequences are. The climate we are used to is unraveling before everyone’s eyes — be it wildfires, hurricanes, or other disasters and societal threats.
And they hit EVERYONE, one way or another.
Failing to handle this, continuing to play politics like a game where “our side” should always win, is a recipe for disaster. If the Trumps and Sanders of this world do not unite and provide concessions to each other with regard to these topics, then the Game Of Thrones TV Series has got it right predicting the future — while Lannisters and Targaryens fight each other, the White Walkers (Climate Change) and their army only get bigger and more menacing.
Images are screenshots of this tweet:
— Félix González (@GonzalezFelix_) October 15, 2017