Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!

(Amos 5:24)

Congratulations to the National School of Public Health, Greece for its exemplary and commendable efforts regarding crisis-affected populations and for strengthening relations between neighboring countries.

(President, World Association for Disaster Emergency Medicine - WADEM)

We are at the beginning of mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!

(Greta Thunberg)

Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.

(HG Wells)

Extreme and deadly weather conditions in Europe became commonplace this summer along with the broken dreams of citizens, first in the north with excessive rain, floods, landslides and homelessness, now in the south with unbearable heat, fire and choking environmental conditions after forests, woodlands and parkland areas burn. Summer is becoming more and more dangerous due to the increase in heat, while little is being done for climate adaptation. In both regions, the affected populations are in a state of psychological confusion. In all regions, the words of the prophet Amos in denouncing those who oppressed innocents took bribes, used power to deprive the poor of justice while building mansions with lush gardens still hold currency.

Consciousness loses its resilience and becomes exhausted from social dementia and is a dangerous threat to a democratic society and human existence. A much bigger gap exists between even the relatively less well-off in the developed world and most of humanity practice of mental health destruction.

With the advancing environmental crisis in the time of Covid, society is without adequate disaster management and is being pushed towards increasing inequality and nudged towards social instability. Inequality blocks progress puts a brake on development and augments instability and as Burkle says autocratic regimes are seriously handicapped by sociopathic narcissistic leaders who are incapable of understanding the health consequences of infectious diseases or the impact on the population. The system demonstrates riches for the few, enormous profits for many while the wages of corruption reap havoc for most. Nothing though can compare to the potential devastation posed by nuclear weapons the greatest hazard to life on earth. Should a nuclear weapons launch button be pressed, by accident or intent, time will have run out on humanity; any planning of disaster preparation and the protection of people and society for tomorrow will have no meaning; social dementia will be erased from memory.

Precious forests of Greece burn again with an eerie crackle and pop as sap evaporates and wood becomes ash and the Delta variant spreads rapidly with increasing infectiousness as the struggle goes on to vaccinate. Hearts ache and some have stopped beating seeing their loved ones hospitalized and homes in ashes. Just as a forest fire can suddenly take a new direction as winds change or firefighters reduce the fury of one front, the ongoing epidemic can shift course and the health services once again overwhelmed. In Hidden devils I wrote that we cannot rule out Covid’s visitation to Greece or death in Venice and prepare here and now for the future. Six months later and once again I argued that socio-economic differences coupled with reluctant political recognition for public health and a rejection of the wisdom of the golden mean drive inequality and damage population health, now exacerbated by Covid, flooding and heatwaves.

It is just three years since Mati. The human resources, men and women, firefighters, pilots, police, water resources, health care personnel and reporters working in organizations representing the basic social functions of the state are making enormous efforts, to the point of personal exhaustion, to stop the raging dance of fire as one wave of flames gives rise to another throughout the country. The conditions are such that before water touches them a significant part has already evaporated from the thermal load of the extremely dry soil. The prayer of all is for the flames to fall and for the inferno to stop in order to give a rest to the dry land and a sense of hope to despairing citizens for a green and better life.

The atmosphere is dark and saturated with particles of sizes that can severely irritate the lungs. Outdoor masks are imperative and for many, they are also imperative even indoors. It is necessary for people to restrict unnecessary movement and stay as long as possible in hermetically sealed homes.

As many parts of the earth burn it is politically easy to hide from reality and blame the People of the Sea for our planetary hell? The Sea People towards the end of the Bronze Age were blamed for precipitating the Dark Ages and the great migrations that followed. The forces of destruction then; drought, poverty, famine, the collapse of trade routes and infrastructure. Now, floods, heatwaves and Covid are cutting man and humanity off from their star. To heal the earth and protect humanity we must know well, who these modern Sea people are who anchor their ships and rip up the planet for profit and call it development.

The need to address, manage and repair the health effects of disasters worldwide is now a major priority for societies. During the period 2000-2010 the National School of Public Health, Greece made a series of scientific announcements and presentations at international conferences in many countries (United Kingdom, Netherlands, Serbia, Israel, Turkey, USA) concerning the prevention and treatment of health effects of natural, social and humanitarian crises and disasters (forest fires, economic crisis and austerity, etc.) and the treatment of victims and their mental issues.

Based on this, the School submitted to the competent Greek authorities useful proposals the fruit of many years of research and scientific cooperation with the international community that remain relevant today. They concerned the creation of postgraduate studies based on public health, human security health and health diplomacy, the promotion of the widest possible cooperation with the countries of the South-Eastern Mediterranean and the establishment of a High Level Advisory Committee on the promotion of social scientific readiness, relevant educational approaches and facilitation of disaster monitoring. I would say that there is no Greek who does not know the risk of floodings as a result of clogged upstreams and run-off watercourses.

Frequent and successive disasters (earthquakes, forest fires, oil spills, floods) remind us of our ongoing obligation for preventive and responsive disaster management. As a reminder, the said School was founded by Eleftherios Venizelos in response to the miserable health conditions of the time. It strengthens the then poor scientific knowledge in the country, to form a culture of public health and build stable cooperation with the international community.

On the 50th anniversary of the Association of Public Health Schools in the European Region, ASPHER (2016), and convened at the Athens School of Public Health, the Athens ASPHER Accord (AAA) reiterated its concern about the plight of growing vulnerability and the need to prepare for public health.

In 2019, in its urgent appeal, the World Philosophical Forum came back to classical philosophy in Greece with the challenges and promising opportunities for change and development and Greece proposed minimizing contributions to climate change to make life easier whether the future as it does now with seismic activity and to better prepare to face an awesome menu of more frequent disasters.

Our planet and humanity face destruction and death at different time constants, immediately with the push of a button, later with global warming and over a lifetime of steadily embedded corruption and social dementia. But no one listens and no one is to blame. The world is burning and much of America is burning. The gate to the port of Beirut from where the Dengue fever entered Greece 90 years ago has collapsed, while the only School of Public Health fell into the political ax after floods in Mantra, west of Athens, burning Mati, east of Athens and before Covid who has made all the bad things worse. No institution or academy protested when political executors cut down the 90-year-old public health tree, Athens (2019). While public health can help build a resilient, peaceful world, Democrats do not always fully support it or just pay for it, intelligence and emperors do not. What Greece and the world need now is a new moral compass and a new North Star for which a better way can be navigated. for problems flooding Europe. The forces of destruction have separated humanity from its star.

Courage to the firefighters of Greece where there is an extreme risk of fire (category 5 alarm) and a very high risk (category 4) for many areas, from fires. Greece has many information resources from civil protection guidelines to fire forecast maps and a reasonable set of basic social functions. It does not have sufficient resources to fight fires on the many fronts that occur and no longer has its unique and cultural asset the public health school. Its execution was an attack on interdisciplinary public health and an insult to his education and experience.


Burkle F.M. Jr. Declining public health protections within autocratic regimes: impact on global public health security, infectious disease outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2020; 35(3):237–246.