OPINION

Green development

At some point, Greece is going to have to address the issue of the environment versus development, especially as we seem to have lost sight of the issue in the midst of populism and generalizations. Environmental protection is crucial and this newspaper has waged more than a few battles toward it. But we can reach the other extreme, the point where populist fanaticism sometimes becomes ecological fascism. Of course no one wants to have a power station near their home, for example. Yet we must also know how, when and where the electricity will be produced to allow the energy-wasteful Greeks to continue in their habits. I often hear people arguing that the entire expanse of the former airport at Hellenikon should be made into a park. It’s a great slogan, but like all slogans it says nothing about who will pay for its upkeep and who will maintain it. The same goes for Attica’s beaches, where every once in a while some heroic mayor goes to extreme ends to ensure control over them. I am curious to see in what state municipal beaches – which normally resemble garbage dumps – will be this summer. In this atmosphere of populism we have reached the point of believing that even tourist development – no matter how well planned or high in quality – is detrimental to the environment. We haven’t been bothered all these years by illegal rooms to let, but we are annoyed by a handful of investments that can propel Greece forward in development terms. Behind these emotive words about environment awareness there often lurks some «progressive» small-time contractor who didn’t get the job, or other local interest groups. The «Soviet ecological heaven» sought by some is unsustainable. We must begin to discuss ways in which we can grow as a country by combining development with environmental awareness in a sober manner.