March Eco-Tidbits from Turkey
The 5th World Water Forum held two weeks ago in Istanbul dominated the city's news this month, but other environmentally related events were afoot in March too. Once again, we wrap up some of the month's news from Turkey, developments that prompted reactions of both "süper" (yep, just like in English, but with an umlaut) and "maalesef" (unfortunately):Süper!
- A new Metrobus line in Istanbul extended the reserved-lane transit system to the Asian side of the city, bringing its total reach to 40.5 kilometers. The city's ambitious plans call for the system to cover 139 kilometers by 2010.
- Tens of thousands of tree seedlings are being planted alongside the major highway that connects Turkey's two largest cities, Istanbul and Ankara.
- Protests in the Mediterranean region of Muğla have succeeded in forcing the re-routing of a power line to an already-treeless area after the electric company cut down 95 pine trees without permission.
- An estimated 200 to 250 mountain antelopes of the endangered Gazella gazella species have been found living in the Turkish Mediterranean province of Hatay, near the Syrian border.
- The death of Erhan Kaya at age 34 was the 40th fatality attributed to occupational silicosis among denim sandblasting workers. Minister of Labour and Social Security Faruk Çelik promised to close 60 denim sandblasting workshops that had failed to provide safe working conditions for their employees. Of the sector's estimated 10,000 workers, some 4,000 are said to suffer from the disease.
- Global climate change has caused some migratory birds previously seen in Turkey, including the red-breasted merganser (Mergus serrator), to shift their routes northward.
- Rising pollution levels in the Marmara Sea, which borders Istanbul, are threatening migrating fish, native crab species, and the Mediterranean seal. According to a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, approximately 53 percent of total industrial wastewater is being discharged without treatment into local bodies of water.
- Of the estimated 27,000 attendees at the World Water Forum, many of whom traveled to Istanbul from around the globe, only about a dozen participated in an initiative to offset the carbon emissions created by their trip.