OPINION

Fires, city infrastructure both threats to climate

The fire on Parnitha has galvanized the public’s attention on the micro-climate of Athens. Now is the time for bold new suggestions that offer solutions to the capital’s pressing environmental needs.  It is obvious that the quality of life in central Athens is poor. The pavements are narrow and often in poor repair, the streets are crowded with parked cars. Many people live in small apartments which directly overlook other crowded apartment buildings with very little space in between. It is hot, noisy and claustrophobic. Children have very little space to play and there is hardly any break of green in the oppressive landscape of sun-baked concrete. This is not a city fit to withstand the potential threats brought by an era of global warming. Heat waves will continue to make life unbearable and the congested living conditions are a breeding ground for the outbreak of new viruses and diseases. Where are the prominent architects and town planners of our day with bold new designs for an environmental cityscape fit for the 21st century? One of the solutions that could solve this problem is to replace entire neighborhoods with high-quality high-rise buildings, complete with plentiful underground parking. The space created by building higher buildings with a much smaller ground cover could then be converted into parks and recreational facilities such as open-air swimming pools. These facilities could be public, or private, belonging to and paid for by the residents of the apartment complex. Recycling facilities could be engineered into an internal rubbish chute disposal system and environment technology made integral to the buildings’ design. Building high-rise buildings in an earthquake zone has its difficulties, but technology applied in California and Japan has overcome potential problems. Obviously, such plans are expensive and disruptive, but that is the job of visionaries, to challenge apathy and to seek ambitious new solutions. Whatever we do, or do not do, the city of Athens will change. Will these changes be planned to improve the quality of life for all, or will they continue in the same haphazard self-interested way which has led us to live in a crowded, dirty city? MIMI BOOTH, Rafina The recent debate in Parliament, about the fires, and what will happen to the destroyed forests, is a replay of last year.  One year ago there was a devastating fire in Halkidiki. The government promised that no illegal buildings would be built, and that aerial photography would be used to monitor the area. Well? If that has been done, and no illegal buildings have been built, then show the public the aerial photographs to prove you kept, and will keep, your word.  Since there has been no mention of last year’s fire, and the protection of the land, it would seem the present government cannot keep it’s word. LES GROVE, Glyfada.