The Greeks are responding to their relative poverty these days by buying less heating oil and burning wood instead, which is bad for the environment, reports Iain Murray:
The average level of particulate matter in London fell from around 160 micrograms per cubic meter to less than 20 between 1961 and 1998, so successful was the industrialized west at cleaning up its act. The current levels in Greece are reaching 300 micrograms per cubic meter.
There will be substantial health effects from this increase in pollution back to dangerous levels. A London “black fog” in 1952 killed 4,000 people. Current Greek smog levels are fast approaching that level of danger. […]
Greeks have been forced by the high prices of home heating oil – of which a large proportion is government-imposed taxes – to use wood for fuel, and much of that wood is gathered illegally. The Greek environment ministry estimates more than 13,000 tons of wood was harvested illegally in 2012.
What we are seeing is Greece retreating back up the slope of what is known as the Environmental Kuznets curve. This model theorizes that, as a civilization starts to use natural resources, it increases its impact on the environment until it reaches a stage where it becomes more efficient to reduce its impact[.] [Huffington Post, January 23]