A number of Greek monuments that have stood intact since antiquity now appear to be facing a new challenge: climate change, according to scientists who met during a two-day meeting on global warming held in Athens last week.
Air pollution, acid rain and extreme weather swings from flash flooding to droughts are eroding ancient marbles and taking a toll on ancient walls and temples.
Speaking at a conference on the “Impacts of Climate Change on Cultural Heritage: Facing the Challenge”, Academy of Athens Professor Christos Zerefos told Reuters that in view of extreme weather events which have become more common, Greece must ensure better shelter for its monuments, as well as install monitoring systems that can provide extra protection in case of extreme weather.
According to the experts attending the event, monuments such as the Parthenon standing atop the Acropolis hill, one of the world’s most-visited sites and among the country’s best preserved, is seeing the impact of extreme weather.
“The walls of the (ancient) city have more erosion than in the past,” said Maria Vlazaki, culture ministry general secretary. “Every year, we have more cases… We give more money, unexpected money to protect the walls of the (ancient) cities that had no problems before, to protect the coastal area,” Vlazaki said.
It should be noted that like the Parthenon and the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion, there are hundreds of ancient monuments countrywide, many of which UNESCO World Heritage Sites, that now – besides the passing of time – face a new threat: climate change.
In the meantime, Greeks are slowly beginning to see the imminent impact of climate change with one in two calling on the government and policymakers to immediately address global warming and the climate crisis with urgent measures, according to a survey released last week by WWF Greece.
At the same time, dozens of local environmental groups are calling on the state and political parties to take immediate action and move swiftly ahead with the implementation of measures against global warming, demanding a “climate emergency” be declared.