Historic environmental pollution
Source, accessed 02/06/2014)Deepening the imprint of the ancient Mediterranean Greek civilizations’ footprint was the extraction of minerals. Silver metallurgy, another specialization that developed in ancient times and continued until recently, was exploited so excessively that in 1976, production stopped because the supply of silver had been entirely consumed. Although Greece is no longer mainly specialized in shipbuilding and in the production of silver, human impact is greater than ever as shown by ecological degradation caused by mass tourism and its effects, and destruction caused my human migration, rapid economic growth, and urbanization. Recent plans to extract gold in the Halkidiki area pose another threat to the precious ecosystems in that area.
(Source accessed 02/06/2014)
Contemporary environmental pollution
Greece’s rich natural environment is a major economic asset and provides many ecosystem services such as drinking water and water for irrigation and industry; food; habitat for biodiversity, tourism and recreation, etc. but is under increasing pressures from rapid urbanization, industrial and agricultural intensification, inefficient energy generation and tourism expansion. Economic and social development in Greece in its efforts to achieve convergence with the other European Union countries and to create material prosperity for its citizens resulted in the neglect of the environment. Air, soil, rivers, lakes, closed gulfs, lowland coasts, protected areas and sensitive ecosystems are experiencing serious environmental problems due to unplanned and careless development over the last 50 years. Transport, electricity power stations, overexploitation of water resources, degradation of coastal zones, loss of biodiversity in terrestrial and marine ecosystems and increasing contamination from municipal and industrial waste all exert strong pressures on the state of the environment. The environmental problems were caused by rapid and unplanned growth with little attention to their effects on the environment. This was exacerbated by a lack of environmental policies and deficiencies in legal and institutional frameworks. Limitations in enforcement of environmental laws are the result of organized local interests restricting policy implementation, as well as ‘irregularities’ and malpractices by local authorities, private citizens and state institutions. Much has improved with EU accession and convergence with the EU Acquis Communautaire but much is still left to be desired for (Valavanidis and Vlachogianni, 2012).
Water quality and wastewater treatment need to be reinforced. Intensification of agriculture requires better water management efforts. Greece must improve the efficiency of electricity generation. Chemical contamination of fresh water resources, land and coastal degradation should be prevented and mitigated. Environmentally appropriate solutions must be implemented for municipal waste.
Daly, H.E., (1997). Georgescu-Roegen versus Solow/Stiglitz. Ecological Economics 22, 261–266.
Valavanidis A. and Vlachogianni T. (2012): Environmental crisis in Greece. The consequences of modernity and economic growth without sustainability goals. A review of the main problems related to pollution, environmental protection and management of natural resources in Greece. Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Athens, University Campus Zografou 15784 Athens, Greece.