With winter settting in and many people unable to afford heating oil because of big fuel tax hikes – and many others having their electricity turned off because they can’t afford to pay while under a mountain of big pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions – Greeks turning to burning wood, plastic, construction debris, furniture and whatever burns so they can keep warm are creating another season of dangerous haze.
The government has ignored warnings from environmentalists who last year cited the growing phenomenon of Greeks filling their fireplaces and makeshift stoves with toxic flammables and the the skies are again filling with smog. The government is providing oil subsidies for some of the poorest and promised it would restore the power of poor people who’ve had their electricity turned off.
While orders for heating oil have picked up this year after a disastrous season in 2012 for the oil companies when many people decided to go cold rather than try to afford oil over other necessities they are still far down from 2010 when the government began imposing austerity measures on the orders of international lenders in return for bailouts.
Environmentalists have cited the dangers of burning indoors but many people are taking their chances instead of freezing in the dark. The air at night over Athens and other cities in Greece reeks of soot and people who go out find their clothes and hair smell of smoke, as do any clothes that are left out.