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11 January 2013

Wood Smog

Athens is Smoking

Athens is smoking. I'm not talking about the ban of smoking in public places which has completely disappeared (some months ago, restaurants would place small candleholders that could serve as ashtrays on the tables, now they reverted to simple ashtrays, apparently all legal fears are gone). I'm talking about people burning wood to stay warm. The thing is, there are a lot of people here who don't have money for heating oil. There aren't that many people who don't have the money, but since the heating systems work on a per-apartment-house basis, if out of 15 tenants, 2 don't have the money to pay their bill, then nobody gets to heat their apartments, money or not.

The first step was that people would light up their open fireplaces. That of course is a futile move it you want to stay warm. Open fireplaces have energy efficiencies below zero, your place gets colder if you use them. Then people started to set up small stoves that burn wood and "pellets" (which are some kind of pressed wood throwaways if I got that right). Rumours about people going into the woods to cut wood illegally made the rounds and were promptly picked up by the press, but a friend of mine with links to the WWF and forest preservation societies denies these things happening at any scale. I see a lot of turnover at places that sell bundled firewood and I see people bringing firewood from their villages.

So far the effect for me was that it was smelling of wood fires in the evenings outside some times. But yesterday, when I came home from the hackfest at hackerspace.gr, inside Omonia Metro station, I had a sensation of almost not being able to breathe freely due to smoke in the air. Inside the station, next to the tracks, I don't know how many meters under the earth. It was so strong that I was looking around, expecting to see someone who had foolishly lit up some papers or something. More likely someone had lit up a fire outside, near an air intake. Getting out of the Metro and waiting for the bus, the air wasn't much better.

This morning I heard from a couple of other people that it has been the same in other areas of Athens. It seems that Athens notoriously smog prone setting (hills all around it, except on the sea side) meets those wood fires and if the wind conditions are wrong, we get "wood smog". Also we had some cold days, so people needed to get warm more.


Posted by betabug at 22:09 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
ch athens
Life in Athens (Greece) for a foreigner from the other side of the mountains. And with an interest in digital life and the feeling of change in a big city. Multilingual English - German - Greek.
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Comments
Re: Wood Smog

The reason for this dire situation is the very "wise" decision of this government of traitors to raise the heating diesel consumption tax to the same rates of the vehicles diesel one. The result was to turn people in whatever means to warm their bones. In the meanwhile, fuel smuggling flourishes all around the country.

Posted by: Παναγιώτης at January 29,2013 08:17
Re: Wood Smog

Panos, I disagree with that. Sure the raise of the heating fuel tax makes the problem worse, but the main reason is that the system of calculation/billing/buying fuel in apartment blocks clashes with the crisis. In an apartment block with 24 apartments, if 2 or 3 people did not pay their heating bill from last year, everything is blocked. From all the people I talk to, that is the situation - the people owing money on their heating bills do so from last year (or even from the last 2 years). It's the crisis in general, enough people not having the money to pay that bill to block even the ones who still have the money, that is the root cause.

Posted by: betabug at January 29,2013 09:03
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