Athens of the Future
The Ecotopia 2121 Project details the futures of 100 cities across the globe as though they've somehow overcome all environmental challenges and become super-ecofriendly. This month, we highlight the future of Athens.
Athens, one of the oldest cities in the world, has a current population of three million. It has been hard hit by financial problems in recent years as Greek masterplanners experiment with various kinds of radical remedies: austerity, stimulus, debt default, and a possible exit from the Euro-zone. All the while, and for decades to come, there’s likely to be ongoing swings from radical left to radical right in government.
Meanwhile, the environment continues to suffer, especially with regards to Nefos; the urban smog. Once upon a time, Nefos was a come and go visitor, appearing maybe one day in four, but with changing climate patterns and lax regulations, the smog becomes ever-present, ravaging the lungs of young and old, despoiling the view, and eroding ancient monuments. Even nowadays, when Nefos is in town, six times as many people die compared to clean-air days. No body wants to come to Athens anymore -- it’s impossible to even see the Parthenon...
As the decades of the 21st century pass, the trade unions find themselves gaining power and influence. When a left-wing government is in power, the laws related to collective bargaining become stronger. When a right-wing government is in power, the membership base of unions swells as part of a backlash against cuts in public funding. With the left-wing and right-wing fighting over taxes and pensions, it is the unions in future Athens that become the powerhouse behind environmental change. The busdriver union, for instance, force through a city-wide Green Bus program to allay the daily onset of Nefos, and then they go on to claim that Athens roadways should be for them alone, forcing private cars off the road.
Factory workers also strike against hazardous pollution in their workplace and call for cleaner manufacturing. The trend continues when the maritime workers union refuse to load goods that are not ecofriendly or which arrive on ships which are not ecofriendly. Along with other key ports in the Mediterranean, the unions push for safe, Green trade around the world. Nefos slowly disappears from the Athens sky and both the tourist industry, as well as the health of the Athenians, perk up again.