Instant ecological action needed in Iran

| August 19, 2014 | 0 Comments

Says Iranian ecologist Mohammad Darvish, environmental consciousness is on the increase in Iran, particularly among educated youth, who form a significant part of the country’s 75 million citizens.

The country needs help – and fast, says Darvish. In rural areas, poor agricultural practice has resulted in soil erosion, leading to frequent sandstorm pollution, matched by the smog in Tehran and other cities.

The smog is due in part to emissions from millions of ageing vehicles, and is sometimes so bad it causes schools to close.

Iran’s wildlife has been decimated over the last decade, and the country’s water supplies are generally regarded as inadequate. Water problems became obvious a decade ago when the country’s three most famous lakes started drying up. Now all three have disappeared.

In June, Darvish’s young fans – a growing group of students who have formed a blog on Facebook devoted to his work on biodiversity, conservation and the need for better planning that takes the environment into account – called for a mass Iranian demonstration, saying: “Go out into the parks, all over the country, and wear a white breathing mask to say no to pollution! Join us on 5 June from 18:00 to 20:00.”

During his presidency, former leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad aggressively pursued non-governmental organisations, reducing their number from 800 to fewer than 400.

His successor, the more moderate President Hassan Rouhani, elected in June 2013, seems more inclined to hear out environmentalists and other activists, leaving them greater room to manoeuvre.

Category: Spring 2014

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