2050: Eleni Myrivili – The Heat Fighter

What is your job? 

Chief Heat Officer for the city of Athens. I wake up every morning thinking about how to make Athens and other urban settings around the world greener and cooler. I also work to establish early warning systems and policies that will protect those most vulnerable to rising heat.

How are you helping cool the planet through your work? 

Intense heat that creates dangerous conditions in city centers is the deadliest of all extreme weather. This is increasing in intensity and duration due to climate change. We need to strengthen urban heat resilience by incorporating materially more natural systems into our urban fabric. This will help both cool cities and reduce emissions by capturing and storing carbon dioxide in vegetation and soil. Already, green areas cool European cities by 1.07 °C on average, and up to 2.9 °C. But for every 1° C drop in urban temperatures, the tree canopy needs to grow at 16% more; more than 25% of our urban dwellers live in areas with less coverage.

What most surprised you about your job? 

The deep knowledge and care that many public servants in city parks departments develop for urban nature. And the stubborn attachment to concrete and gray infrastructure by both the public and private sectors.

What can we do to get more young people into public service?

Engage them in co-designing solutions for the cities in which they live. We need to empower young people by making them part of the decision-making, design, and implementation process of projects, from strategic planning, to park conservation, to participating in or managing the rollout of public art projects. This will create more transparency, trust, and care for the public realm and our commons.


20 People Helping Cool the Planet by 2050

Carolyn Whelan

Carolyn is a writer, editor and analyst who covers the nexus between business and social justice issues. She broke into journalism at the Rio Earth Summit where she interviewed Al Gore and environmental pioneer David Brower. Topics covered since then range from climate change and higher education costs to drugs pricing, geopolitical strife, business ethics, artificial intelligence, gene editing, alternative energy and the search for good jobs -- and innovation in all these areas. Her pieces, reported from Europe, the US and South America have appeared in Fortune, Newsweek, the International Herald Tribune, the Wall Street Journal and SciAm.com. Previously she worked for the Economist Intelligence Unit, Barrons.com, Columbia Business School, WWF, the UN and PwC. Carolyn is fluent in French and Spanish and resides in Brooklyn.

Read Previous

2050: Marvin Rees – The Urban Activist

Read Next

A Miami Surfboard Salesman Turns Congressional Candidate

Sign up for our newsletter