Thursday, 3 January 2013

The environmental impact of austerity

Having seen their purchasing power drop by 50% and with a 48% increase in the price of heating oil, many Greek people cannot afford to heat their homes in the way they used to anymore. In a lot of blocks of flats in Athens people don't turn the central heating on as they cannot afford to and it is the same in the countryside. Instead, people have turned to using their fireplaces or wood burning stoves. What they burn is wood that has in some cases been illegally logged and if they cannot afford this, they burn anything that comes to hand.

The result is a cloud of toxic smog that hangs over Athens.

In the evenings it becomes impossible to breathe, and if you suffer from asthma then the situation becomes unbearable.

This is what it looks like during the day even though in the majority of homes people do not light their fires until the evening, but even so, the smog remains, hanging over the city. We have been here for two weeks now and I am increasingly finding it difficult to breathe. I have a tightness in my chest all the time, I have a very bad cough which is constant and which keeps me awake at night.

During the first week of our stay we stayed in in the evenings, shutting doors and windows. But now, it is starting to seep in through the double glazing and the flat smells of wood smoke in the evenings and my cough intensifies as does the tightness in my chest. I feel trapped. There is nowhere to go to get away from it - I cannot open windows because this will make it worse and I cannot see how I can get rid of it.

Austerity is reaching into every aspect of our lives and the results are toxic.

This is yet another instance of the chaos that is Greece today. The Greek state without any real understanding of the needs of its people, without any understanding of the consequences of its actions imposed another tax on heating oil which increased its price by 48%. The consequences?
  • A lot of fuel businesses will close which will result in further unemployment
  • People are freezing in their homes with disastrous consequences for vulnerable groups like the elderly, the disabled and the sick
  • School students in the north of the country are freezing
  • The smog in urban areas is reaching dangerous levels (scientists at the University of Athens are talking about a further 5,000 premature deaths per year in the area of Athens alone)
  • The few remaining woodlands of Greece are being looted by illegal logging.

The irony is that the state has been unable to collect even 1/5 of the projected tax revenues. So, what has come out of this initiative that is endangering the health of the population and is an ecological disaster? Nothing. Another blunder that is making the Greek people suffer, another blunder of the incompetent people that govern us. Where will it all end?

What is to become of us?  The streets say it all. Is anyone listening?

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  1. The toxicity of austerity

  2. I would start asking how many have died . .. global population reduction is the goal of these measures, the global elite who are actually running the show do not care how many die . . . we are like roaches to them. It is up to us to turn this around, governments will not help us.

    1. Thank you for your comment Kristen and I agree with you that the only way to change things is for people to get together and try and bring about change as governments, as you rightly point out, do not care and have other interests. Fortunately, no one has died from this environmental pollution - the price of oil went up this autumn so it's all new.Hopefully people will start protesting.