Despite all the sacrifices the environmentalist groups make, the environmental degradation in Iran continues. While the results of global warming will show up in future, other environmental problems have already started taking their toll. In recent years, 30-40 hours of rain in northern parts of Iran has caused a flood while 25 years ago, similar rain would not cause any problem even if it lasted for 100 hours.
Floods occur every year due to deforestation, killing hundreds of people and inflicting millions of dollars of property damage. We have not managed to phase out the consumption of leaded petrol, and as a result, every year more than 4000 people fall victim to air pollution in Iran.
Unfortunately, disasters caused by preventable environmental degradation are not limited to these two examples, and unfortunately again, it seems that environmental issues are not receiving enough attention on the news headlines and websites regarding Iran. The good news is that any of us can make a difference, no matter how limited our time is. Even those who are currently living abroad can play a role in enhancing the public awareness on environmental issues in Iran. Here, I have few suggestions that anybody can implement in her/his life.
Give responsible gifts
I suggest buying some receptacles for recycling for each other as presents. That way whenever the municipality starts collecting recyclable items, the family who has received the gift will readily cooperate.
There are lots of toys on market in developed countries that are intended to teach kids to be more concerned about Nature. These toys can make a great gift ("soghaati") for kids as well as grown-ups.
Talk, talk and talk more!
Surveys in America show that whenever a new product comes to market, only 10% of the customers learn about it from ads. The rest learn about the new item from that 10% zealots. Considering the long history of oral tradition in Iran, similar pattern presumably also works in Iran, not only in marketing but in all social matters. Of course depending on the subject, the time scale over which the word is spread will be different. We can easily play the role of those intermediators, educating each other just by talking. There are many who want to help but they do not know how. For example, some people release their golden fish into lakes. It seems romantic, but those innocent-looking little creatures are the worst kind of pollution, multiplying rapidly and leaving no oxygen for other fishes which can be a source of protein for the locals.
Long live ordinary people!
An American friend once told me that while in Europe the environmental projects are enforced by authorities, in the USA, similar to most of other issues, the driving force behind environmental projects are people at a grass-root level, organized through/with NGO's. It goes without saying that in Iran the latter will work better than the former. Although there are some NGOs in Iran which are concerned with protecting nature at the moment, Iranians in general are not friendly to the environmental activists. The activists need, at least, moral support and encouragement to proceed.
In the end, I must remind that the by-products of the environmental movement are enormous. If only recycling is implemented, more than 5000 job opportunities will be created for the most underprivileged, which can partly solve the homelessness problem.
Picture by: Yousef Ghalati, courtesy of irsen.org.