Many experts describe the Iran’s nuclear program as a ticking bomb. They might be correct, but the Islamic Regime’s nuclear program is not the only bomb ticking in Iran. Virtually unnoticed by the international community, Iran’s environmental policies could be just as devastating as its nuclear program.
Last month, Iran’s Parliament rejected an emergency bill to divert water from the Aras River to Lake Urmia in northwest Iran. Covering an area of 2200 square miles, Lake Urmia is the largest lake in the Middle East. The lake is rare pearl and, until recently, it was home to 212 species of birds, 41 reptiles, 7 amphibians, and no less 27 species of mammals. However, the construction of dams on 13 rivers that feed the lake has significantly decreased the annual amount of water Urmia receives. This has increased the salinity of Urmia’s water, causing the lake to lose its significance as home to thousands of migratory birds and many of its own inhabitants.
The plight of Lake Urmia dates to the 1979 revolution when the new industrious Islamic government ordered the construction of a road cutting through the middle of the Lake. Even then, environmentalists warned that since most of the rivers that pour into the lake are on the north side, the part on the south side of the road would be choked and dry up. But the revolutionary government knew better. Soon the southern part started to shrink.
The sad story of Lake Urmia is similar to that of the Aral Sea where the disastrous “development plans” of the all knowing Soviet Union in 1940s created irrigation canals that diverted 70% of the water that used to pour into it. By the 1960’s the Aral Sea began to shrink. Yet instead of changing course the Soviet planners decided that the two rivers that fed the Aral Sea, the Amu Darya in the south and the Syr Darya in the northeast, would be diverted to irrigate the desert, in an attempt to grow rice, melons, grains , and cotton. This brilliant idea effectively signed theAral Sea’s death sentence. Today there is very little left of the once glorious Aral Sea: the sea has shrunk to two-fifths of its original size, its basin has turned into a salt desert; all 20 known fish species in the Aral Sea are now extinct, unable to survive the toxic, salty sludge.