TEHRAN — Every action has a reaction and that’s what human beings have so far ignored during their short-term lives on the almost 4-billion-year-old Earth.
Now after years of torturing the Earth we are faced with the catastrophic outcomes of such irrational and harmful practices and unsustainable exploitation of the resources.
Some believe that one of the most effective ways to defuse the current situation is to raise public awareness.
Enhancing public “environmental knowledge” is the main key to protect and save the Earth from man’s detrimental actions, Mohammad-Reza Mohammadi, director of Hamadan Province’s Department of Environment, told the Tehran Times.
Increased environmental knowledge will lead to a change in public attitudes and minimize the crippling and deleterious effects arising from the human’s wrong choices, Mohammadi explained.
Most people have heard a lot about the environment and how to protect it but when being looked at closely they do the same harmful things to the environment because they have not been able to internalize what they heard and that’s why they can’t actually put them in practice, Mohammadi regretted.
“What we are seeking most is to advance public environmental knowledge so that citizens would go green and act green even without being observed and monitored as they know the first one who gets hurt by harming the environment would be they themselves,” he highlighted.
The first step to resolve all kinds of environmental problems, including water shortage and waste management, could be training people about them, he said, stating there are other methods such as penalizing those who violate the rules but none can be as effective as raising public environmental awareness.
Raising public awareness and educating them would motivate people and prove much more fruitful than legal measures, he added.
For instance, Mohammadi said, those who own pollutant industries may be more willing to pay green tax rather than becoming clean as they might make more profit “for now”, but if they were environmentally knowledgeable they would know how their current actions might negatively affect their future profit and even their lives.
Currently, the Hamedan agriculture office, in a collaborative endeavor with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), is setting out to educate the farmers about sustainable agriculture, he noted.
“On average plastic bag use is three per person per day in Iran.”“One of the complications we are dealing with in vegetable patches, specifically for cucumber cultivation, are the plastic covers left in the fields and causing harm to the environment,” the local environment chief lamented.
In this regard NGOs attend the mosques to talk to the farmers directly and inform them of the legal consequences of their actions, yet some farmers who don’t clean up the plastic waste from the fields face penalty as some 10 farmers have already been called to courts, he explained.
“We’ve also hanged banners demanding the farmers to avoid producing waste and warned them of the punitive legal measures we will take against them. Fortunately thanks to the action we took so far compared to the last year the farmlands’ view are totally different from what they used to look like.”
However, he added, “Certainly the environmental damages we’ve inflicted upon the nature would not disappear in a year or two.”
Plastic bags detrimental to environment
Elsewhere in his remarks, Mohammadi said that the average plastic bag use is three per person per day in Iran and in addition to the unsightly view they create they cause a great harm to the environment since they last for long periods of time to decompose.
It get worse as the plastic bags are hard to recycle, he said, explaining they are extremely light and it is not economical for those active in this field to recycle them.
Hamedan abandons water-intensive crops
Hamedan is also suffering from water shortage and in order not to intensify the crisis we’ve stopped cultivation of water-intensive crops such as garlic, alfalfa, sugar beet, corn and potato and switched to less water-intensive crops, he highlighted.
Additionally cornfields provide habitats to the wolves which attack people, mostly elderlies and kids, he added.
Old irrigation methods depleting groundwater
92 percent of the water used for irrigation is depleted from groundwater regardless of the two factors of efficient irrigation schemes and impacts of growing water-intensive crops in the province, he stated.
He went on to say that there are still farmers who are employing flood irrigation methods(an ancient irrigation method when water is delivered to the field by ditch, pipe, or some other means and simply flows over the ground through the crop) which is extremely inefficient.
“We are not able to monitor all farmlands to prevent the farmers from adopting such old and inefficient irrigation methods and that’s why we must educate the farmers so that they themselves avoid wasting water on such systems,” he pointed.
Cultural differences key to educate citizens
Mohammadi further explained that educational programs drawn up for the locals in one province must certainly differ from that of another province due to cultural differences that exist in each area.
“Of course we share our experiences over the seminars we hold annually with other provincial officials but what we do in one province does not necessarily work in another,” the provincial official remarked.
In some megacities such as Tehran due to the presence of pollutant industries people are already feeling the debilitating and adverse effects of environmental challenges and naturally are more willing to take part in environmental activities as they are well aware of the dangers of predicaments they might face in the future, he noted.
“But in a province such as Hamedan where the negative impacts of environmental disasters are not tangible yet we need to multiply our efforts to broaden public participation,” he stated. “And that where the difference lies.”
Choosing the best method to get the best result
Choosing the best teaching method for each target group is what makes the final result more fruitful, he mentioned.
For instance, he said, “We are trying to simplify some issues such as greenhouse effects on farming which are hard to comprehend for villagers and inform them of the negative impacts they might have on their products and profit they make year by year.”