The vice president of the Junta de Castilla y León, Juan García-Gallardo (Vox), has a plan for those people concerned about the climate: “carry out fire prevention work in the mountains of Castilla y León. There are thousands of hectares to clear. The same public representative who has appeared in moccasins after the fires that have burned Zamora or Burgos, recommends “signing up” for these works.
All this as a result of a video posted with the newspaper Público in which several young women claim to have ‘eco-anxiety’, that is, they are anguished by the impacts caused by climate change and not being able to face such a big problem. One of the girls that appears in the images affirms that she gets overwhelmed when it is hot in summer due to the fires since she lives in a risk area.
The vice president’s fingers have not shaken to make fun of this opinion and he has reacted by stating that he has “no proof but no doubts,” that “after a few months working, your eco-anxiety passes. And the nonsense, too.” ‘I sell advice and I don’t have it’, as the saying goes.
83,000 hectares burned in Castilla y León
The vice president has published this message in a critical situation for Castilla y León. Since June, more than 83,000 hectares have been burned in Castilla y León and it is the region most affected by the fire, with Zamora in the lead with two large fires that have claimed two human lives, a dozen injured and more than 60,000. hectares affected.
With this frivolity of García-Gallardo, not only does he seem to show no sensitivity to the people affected by the fire, nor to the workers who carry out their work in the mountains of this autonomy. This statement is added to other inaccurate ones by the President of the Board, Alfonso Fernández Mañueco, who assured that “they want to burn” the Community and that there is “political intention”. His Minister for the Environment, Juan Carlos Suárez-Quiñones, blamed the ecologists and their “fads”.
These words hide a reality: the management is manifestly worse than that of other communities. To put in context: last year, the budget for the operation against forest fires in Castilla y León was 64.86 million for 5.1 million hectares, which means 13 euros per hectare. In neighboring Castilla-La Mancha, with 3.5 million hectares of forest, the budget was 95.2 million, 27 euros per hectare, a little more than double what Castilla y León spent.
The lack of budget is reflected in the aerial means it has to stop the fires. Castilla y León has 23 aerial means, to which are added 10 from the Government. If compared to Andalusia, with an area of 4.4 million hectares, they have 36 aerial means, plus 5 offered by the State.
In addition, the Board has the same fire plan as in 1999, which means that it does not include the new advances in fire management. Job insecurity is also installed in the hiring of personnel. Most of these contracts are between 3 and 6 months long, exceptionally reaching 9 months.
But there is more. The Board has management deficiencies: there is no central regional authority that coordinates all the episodes throughout the territory. The Territorial Delegates are in charge of declaring level 2 operational situations (autonomic interest), which causes great internal lack of coordination. In addition, there is a continuous change in the directors of extinction in each fire –every 12 hours– which makes it difficult to continue managing each emergency. This lack of internal coordination also has external effects in the form of distortions in the information provided to the National Civil Protection System. It is not reported with the regularity and accuracy necessary to minimally order support resources.
Likewise, Castilla y León does not have a TeTrA radio communication system for firefighting operations that avoids shadow areas, an added difficulty for forest firefighters, to which is added the low quality of supplies at the checkpoints and of which they have repeatedly complained through social networks –before the contempt of the Board–: little water and sandwiches with almost no filling that have made the well-known chef José Andrés land in Zamora with his NGO ‘World Central Kitchen‘ to feed the firefighters.