We must fight for local residents and emergency services to have the support they need. But we also have to consider what factors led to the fire—and take bold action to prevent more frequent extreme weather eventsby Amelia Womack / June 28, 2018 / Leave a comment
For four days the country has held its breath as one of the biggest fires in living memory spreads across Saddleworth Moor.
Scenes reminiscent of apocalyptic Hollywood films have unfolded in Greater Manchester as smoke chokes the city and firefighters bravely fight to keep flames barely 200 meters from people’s homes under control. By the time this piece is published, the damage is sure to be greater still.
The emergency services and an army of volunteers in Greater Manchester have worked tirelessly to protect the city from the inferno, through the night and the scorching heat of the day on the treacherous terrain of the moor.
Their actions and advice—and the swift decision to evacuate homes—have without doubt prevented even greater suffering.
It is astonishing but sadly not surprising their fight had until the fourth day been all but widely ignored by national media.
First and foremost, it is essential that the emergency services and residents of Greater Manchester get the support they need at this terrifying time.
With the army already on standby, it was welcome to see Theresa May confirm at PMQs that contingency support is available if needed.
But the Government must not delay. With police in the area declaring the fire a ‘major incident’ it is clear a crises has already beset Manchester.
Reflections will be necessary
When the flames have passed, there will be time for reflection on what caused this fire, and why it spread at such a rate and so close to people’s homes. When that time comes, we must be vigilant not to let those in power overlook the huge environmental factors at play.
It would be a betrayal of those affected by the fire to ignore that it happened in the middle of a heat wave.
In March this year, Green Party staff were stranded overnight on trains stuck in snow as they battled to ‘Spring’ Conference. Two months later, the UK recorded the hottest May since records began.
We also cannot ignore the fact climate change makes extreme weather events more frequent, and worse when they occur.
Last year my colleague Caroline Lucas was accused of “lacking humanity” for talking about climate change in relation to Hurricane Irma. But as she said then, these are precisely the times we must.