By Maryam Qarehgozlou

Deteriorating environment is waiting for the right decisions

March 18, 2018 - 19:24

TEHRAN — Did you know if you’re 41 or younger you’ve never experienced a normal climate, not even once? This was shared on Years of Living Dangerously, an American documentary television series focusing on global warming, Instagram page on March 6.

The last time it was cooler than the 20th century average was in 1976 when Gerald Ford was President of the United States. The first Star Wars movie had just started filming and Steve Jobs had just founded Apple computer in his garage. 

If you were born in the 1980’s, you grew up in the warmest decade ever recorded. That is until the 1990's, where every year was warmer than the 1980's average. And each decade has been hotter than the last, right up until today. If you’re in your teens, almost every year of your life has been one of the hottest years ever recorded. 17 of the 18 hottest years on record have occurred since 2001. This is just the beginning. What may seem “normal” today will soon feel anything but. These are #climatefacts share widely.

In Iran, things are no different than the other parts of the world, the truth is that the climate change is affecting the whole world to different extent and in some cases to the extremes. 

However, climate change is most certainly not the only reason for the looming environmental crises in Iran. Water shortage, air pollution, sand and dust storms, wetlands’ drainage, the threatened biodiversity are all to some extent connected to climate change one way or another, but it would be unfair to ignore the role of human interference as well as mismanagement and shortsighted policy making in exacerbating the current condition. 

Iran’s Department of Environment (DOE) is the main organization in charge of environment protection by overseeing and supervising other bodies and the way they are treating it.

It may not be wise to hold one single organization guilty of all the environmental predicaments, but the organization must be accountable for the detrimental effects of the flawed policies which are endangering human health and the environment. 

Below is the DOE’s chief answers to some controversial environmental issues which has concerned the environmental activists and the public over the past years. 

Revision of national protected areas a dynamic process 

Inquired by the Tehran Times about the recent directive adopted by the Supreme Council of Environment on revision of national protected areas Issa Kalantari, DOE’s chief has said that increasing or decreasing the national protected areas is a “dynamic process”.

Kalantari went on to say that less than three thousandths of the protected areas, including 24 regions, are decreased and there will be suggestions for increasing the areas as well.

The laws are not “God’s words” that cannot be modified, it’s been forty years since the laws have been adopted and now, with regard to the population growth, the law was bound to change, he highlighted.

There are towns located in protected areas and the residents need to know what they should do, the revision of the protected areas won’t cause any problems and is advantageous too, he added. “The environment belongs to the people and we should be concerned with the public welfare and causing difficulties for thousands of people because of the environment is not our strategy.” 

The DOE chief who has always been qouted as saying to care about sustainable development most certainly knows that protected areas can often play a major role in the implementation of sustainable development activities by providing major direct and indirect benefit to local and national economies, having major scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and spiritual value and protecting the genepool necessary for meeting human needs, for example in agriculture and medicine. 

Many protected areas worldwide are often home to communities of people with traditional cultures and irreplaceable indigenous knowledge of natural history who would never cause any harm to the nature. Changing the status of a protected area to unprotected won’t change anything for the residents as they have been trained for years to live in harmony with the nature.

On the contrary the unprotected areas are more prone to sustain damages by unsustainable mining, logging, and agricultural activities and in general brutal exploitation. 

Science, expertise road to sustainable development 

DOE chief is very well-known for his deep concerns about the depletion of water resources and water shortage in the country. Underlining the fact that we are consuming way over the carrying capacity of the enable water resources Kalantari suggested that insisting on being self-sufficient in agriculture sector is the country’s undoing.

Lower than average precipitation in the country, flawed policies of the past four decades, not accepting the importance of expertise and scientific approaches to tackle the environmental issues, and ignoring the true potential of the manufacturing sector are preventing us from moving towards sustainable development, Kalantari regretted. 

Tilapia farming not detrimental 

The environmentalists’ concerns for tilapia farming is nothing new worldwide as the topic is being debated over the past few decades.

Tilapia, which is native to lakes in Africa is the common name for nearly a hundred species of cichlid fish. It is known in the food business as “aquatic chicken” because of its easy breeding and bland taste. The amount of omega-6 acids in tilapia outnumbers the beneficial omega-3s by a factor of 2 to 1, which some nutrition experts believe that this ratio can increase the risk of heart disease. 

On the other hand known as an invasive species tilapia is notorious for having adverse effects on the environment because if the farm fish escape their pens, water pollution and spread of disease to wild fish can be expected.

However, the environment top official explained that tilapia farming in Iran is only allowed in desert areas where there is actually no rivers over a radius of 500 meters, such as Yazd province in central Iran.

He further noted that the animal species framed in Iran does not pose any threats to human health and that “creating job opportunities is high on agenda for the current administration and we cannot prevent people from doing their jobs for such excuses.”

Of course people are free to choose what to eat and what not to eat and it is best to do our research and make sure if a product is healthy or not.

Making decisions 

The environment is of course degrading and it is not easy to determine the real cause. And in fact there is no single cause. For one, according to a study by World Wildlife Fund climate change could wipe out half of all plant and animal species from the Amazon rainforest by 2100. 

The earth is sending out warnings it is still waiting for all of us, either those one of us who throw trash in the forests or make a fire in the wild while picnicking or those who are making decisions and setting policies to make the right choice and protect it. 


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