August Eco-Tidbits from Turkey
With floods besieging the Black Sea coast and fires raging in the Mediterranean, it was impossible to ignore the power of nature this month. That power also seemed to be on the mind of many investors, whose renewable-energy projects make up the bulk of recent good news from Turkey as we once again wrap up the latest eco-related developments that prompted reactions of both "süper" (yep, just like in English, but with an umlaut) and "maalesef" (unfortunately):Süper!
- The World Bank says it will fund its first-ever "smart grid" project in Turkey as part of its larger strategy of investing in clean technology in developing regions.
- Turkey has canceled the production and importation of 74 out of 135 pesticides banned by the European Union as part of its ongoing bid for EU membership. The remaining chemicals, however, are more commonly used by local farmers and will thus be harder to eliminate.
- Turkish and Norwegian energy companies have signed a deal to build a 24 megawatt (MW) wave-power facility on the Turkish coast.
- An 18-year-old Turkish student, Ceren Burçak Dag, won the 2009 Stockholm Junior Water Prize for her project demonstrating how raindrops can be used to generate electricity by capturing their kinetic energy with PVDF, a smart material with piezoelectric properties.
- The 30 MW Belen Wind Farm being built in the southern Hatay region is set to begin operations in September and is expected to generate 95.7 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year of electricity. Another wind power plant in the works, this one in the Aegean town of Manisa, is expected to generate almost 316 million kWh of electricity annually, starting in late 2010.
- Turkey saw a significant drop in damage from forest fires after a record-breaking year in 2008, sustaining the least damage in the blaze-prone Mediterranean region in the first half of 2009. Summer rains and earlier detection and intervention were said to be behind the improvement.
- Coca-Cola has announced plans to invest 5 million Turkish Liras in social and environmental projects in Turkey, one of the soft-drink manufacturer's key markets. The company previously contributed to local efforts to reduce water consumption in the Lake Bafa region.
- Municipal officials near the southern resort town of Bodrum have fined the owners of summerhouse sites and tourism facilities a total of 1.2 million liras for releasing untreated waste into the Güllük Gulf and have pledged to continue with inspections.
- The number of stork pairs in Turkey has decreased from 900,000 in the 1960s to an estimated 200,000 now due to shrinking wetlands and marshes, increased use of agricultural pesticides, and changes to housing construction that make it harder for the big birds to find places to nest.
- Industrial pollution in the Ergene River in northwestern Turkey has become so bad that it is damaging local crops; farmers are unable to use its waters to irrigate their fields, which are still exposed to the river's toxic contents during floods. Thousands of farmers are expected to sue local authorities to try and resolve the problem.
- Beekeepers in the central region of Malatya saw honey yields drop dramatically due to a lack of rainfall and dust clouds smothering the plants that the bees need to collect nectar.
- Polluting fish farms that were supposed to be moved offshore have simply relocated to the other side of Güllük Gulf, according to local residents, who say the operations are fouling the water, driving away tourism, and creating hazards for swimmers.
- The severe floods in the Black Sea region have left riverbanks and residential neighborhoods strewn with garbage, attracting insects and prompting fears about whether fruits and vegetables being grown in local gardens are still safe to eat.
- Teams from the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality are collecting more refuse -- from refrigerators to the body of a dead cow -- from the waters of the Bosphorus strait, pulling up enough trash to fill 2,003 garbage trucks just since January of this year.