Turkey’s environmental disaster, a global lesson
In the past six months, a huge mass of organic matter has bloomed on the surface of the Sea of Marmara in Turkey, south of Istanbul, spurred by global warming and an overload of pollutants, including sewage and pesticides. . This is yet another example of the decay unleashed by man on nature. The water has been invaded by a sticky web of “sea snot” caused by rising sea temperatures and inefficient waste management, and if something is not done quickly it is impossible to continue fishing. at sea. The current outbreak, which began in December, is the largest bloom of marine mucilage recorded in the inland sea and is devastating the ecosystem, from the shores of Europe’s most populous city, Istanbul, to the sea Aegean, a popular place with vacationers.
Environmental experts say the slimy substance is the result of overproduction of phytoplankton, caused by climate change and the dumping of household and industrial waste. Divers have observed massive fish deaths and claim corals and sponges are completely covered in tufts of organic matter, often fatal, while ugly brown moss is spat on the surface like phlegm from a sick lung.
The phenomenon is a stark warning to the world – a glimpse of an imminent future if humans continue to push the planet’s life support systems to extremes. In the resort town of Erdek to the south, which sits on a peninsula that has seen some of the worst visible effects of the mucilage blast, fishermen such as Karisik say their livelihood has been virtually at a standstill for the past six months. . Mud builds up in their nets, making them so heavy that they often break or get lost.
Those that come back are often empty because the strings are coated, making them visible to the fish. Karasik, 35, who has a family and a two-and-a-half-year-old child, said he was at sea most of the time from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m., yet he earns barely more money than it costs. Over the weekend, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to save the sea from the glanders problem, blaming the outbreak on untreated water in cities, including Istanbul.
However, according to those who live and work around the sea, the problem is not new and has largely gone unreported and addressed since 2007, despite being the worst it has ever been. The heavily industrialized sea has a special ecosystem due to its interior, but untreated waste and agricultural runoff is discharged directly causing high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus. Little has been done in recent decades to quell the sliding of unsightly industrial plants and concrete structures along the shores of what is one of the smallest sea on Earth.
Successive governments and municipalities did not prioritize the environment and instead continued to dump their waste into the sea. But then isn’t this also true for our cities? Governments often pay lip service to such causes because it does not really get them a voice. The majority of the population is concerned about their immediate and daily livelihoods and the education of their families. Long-term impacts do not take center stage in their lives.