Greece rapped as eco-laggard

Greece needs the equivalent of three planets to sustain its current rate of consumption of natural resources, according to a report by the World Wildlife Fund conservation group (WWF) made public yesterday, which found the country to have one of the worst records in the world when it comes to energy and water use. Greece’s record is significantly worse than the global average, according to the report, which noted that the Earth overall «needs the equivalent of two planets.» The report, titled Living Planet, places Greece 11th from the bottom out of 148 countries assessed in terms of their «ecological footprint.» Staff at the Greek branch of WWF said this ranking was a foregone conclusion. «Our way of life in Greece has far outstripped our ecological limits and this is chiefly due to a warped mentality which regards the natural environment as an inexhaustible source of resources,» said WWF Hellas director Dimitris Karavellas. He blamed Greece’s poor performance on the country’s excessive consumption of energy, and its reliance on dwindling fossil fuels such as lignite and anthracite, which are highly polluting. The report also found Greece to be particularly wasteful in its use of water, using around 2.4 million liters of water per person per year – the largest «water footprint» after the USA and nearly double the global average of 1.24 million liters of water per person per year. WWF Hellas blames this chiefly on the wasteful use of water for irrigation and the failure to purify and reuse wastewater. According to WWF, concessions must be made or the country will face serious shortages which it is not prepared to handle. «The time has come to make some radical changes to our way of life – changes that will improve our standard of living while reducing our impact on our natural environment,» Karavellas said. In a statement accompanying the WWF report, Jonathon Loh, of the Zoological Society of London, likened the problem to the global financial crisis. «We are acting ecologically in the same way as financial institutions have been acting economically – seeking immediate gratification without due regard for the consequences,» he said.