April Eco-Tidbits from Turkey
Though it was hard to get beyond the Obamania this month, the U.S. president's visit to Turkey helped spotlight climate-change issues and demonstrate the capabilities of Istanbul's public-transit system. After a little time to recover from the collective swoon, we now once again wrap up some of the month's environmental news from Turkey, developments that prompted reactions of both "süper" (yep, just like in English, but with an umlaut) and "maalesef" (unfortunately):Süper!
- The country's first waste-to-energy facility opened at a landfill near Istanbul's suburban Kemerburgaz district. The facility will extract dangerous methane gas and use it to produce electricity to sell back to the municipal power grid. Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş said it would generate enough energy to power 112,000 homes.
- The Turkish energy company EnerjiSA and German's Siemens AG reached an agreement to build a 30 megawatt wind-power plant near the northwestern city of Çanakkale. The 37-million-euro facility is expected to be operational in 2010 and will eventually reduce annual carbon-dioxide emissions by 50,000 metric tons.
- Private companies spent 783 million Turkish Liras on environmental protection efforts in 2007, the first year for which such figures were calculated. The funds were primarily spent on the management of wastewater and solid waste and the prevention of air pollution.
- 78 percent of passengers who rode Turkey's first high-speed train line during a discounted promotional period said they "would" or "would definitely" continue to use it when fares rise to the regular price.
- The company that runs Istanbul's ferries and the DenizTemiz ("Clean Sea") Foundation collaborated to offer boat tours to some of the city's elementary school children--many of whom, amazingly, have never seen the nearby sea--that included educational presentations and activities about the importance of protecting the oceans.
- Activists are speaking out in the Mediterranean area of Antalya. In the town of Kaş, they're protesting a marina construction plan that they say would contribute to the rapid urbanization of the area and potentially block underwater springs and the openings of natural caves. In Kemer country, they're fighting the building of a hotel on a popular local camping and picnicking spot.
- The Kızılırmak and Yeşilırmak river deltas are becoming severely polluted by runoff of fertilizer and other agricultural chemicals, endangering the two dozen types of fish that dwell in the waters, and the livelihoods of locals who depend on fishing.
- Lake Ulubat, an important wetland and bird habitat in the Marmara province of Bursa, is also in trouble, contaminated by raw sewage and industrial waste.
- Over-watering of corn crops is creating up to new 10 sinkholes annually in the central district of Konya, a region already prone to drought and wind erosion.
- The obesity epidemic plaguing both people and planet has hit Turkey too, with two-thirds of the population, particularly older people, overweight by medical standards.
- Turkish consumers discarded nearly $14 billion worth of mobile phones--and all their nasty components--between 1994, when cell service first came to the country, and 2006.
- The month hasn't been kind to animals, with several pelicans dying after getting caught in power lines near the Manyas Bird Paradise reserve; a rare Mediterranean seal found dead and skinned in the Bodrum area, possibly by a fur poacher; and endangered fallow deer threatened by wild dogs in an Antalya reserve.