COMMENT

Pipedreams

By Pantelis Boukalas

We really shouldn’t be complaining about our lot in life here in Greece as other than the “institutional” salvation that has been hammered out for the country, we have a plethora of solutions to the debt problem that can be attributed to famed Greek ingenuity.

At a time when thousands of Greeks are unable to afford heating oil to see them through the winter, the media has been trumpeting on and on since the weekend about natural gas deposits and pipelines that will bring us dollars galore. And not just millions of dollars, but 1.3 trillion, to be precise – in other words, enough money to pay off all of Greece’s debts, as well as those of Italy, Cyprus, Spain, Portugal and Ireland to boot.

How wonderful it would be if we were even able to make one-thousandth of the above figure, which has been presented as an irrefutable fact. However, if we don’t allow our enthusiasm at the prospect of trillions of dollars to get the better of us, then surely we should be wary of the phrase “A confidential report by Greek scientists confirms that...,” which normally accompanies such proclamations of wealth being within our reach.

First of all, how “confidential” can a report possibly be when it is deftly circulated so that it can be read far and wide, down to its last footnote, in order to increase the hype and speculation?

Secondly, when a TV banner, in Greece, says “Greek scientists confirm,” is it referring to the entire body of Greek scientists or just a couple?

Third, we ought to be suspicious when presented with an expert who plays up to the public’s concerns by giving super-optimistic assurances that there are oceans of gas just sitting there, when we don’t also get to hear the opinion of other, less optimistic experts.

Not so long ago we thought we could be saved by borrowing 670 billion euros from Russia or a Middle Eastern country. Then an unidentified Greek in America appeared who would donate 600 billion euros to save the Greek economy if we changed Syntagma Square, and after him there were rumors of an initiative launched by wealthy Greek shipowners to buy up a part of the Greek debt.

In the meantime, we were informed that under the crust of the Earth, Greece was rich with uranium and other precious minerals that would allow us to live in comfort and bliss for the next 20 generations to come.

And now we are being sucked into a frenzy that we can be saved by the gas that is just waiting to be extracted. But, taking some license with the old adage, we shouldn’t put all our eggs in one jerry can.

Online