International Earth Day – A look at the mullahs’ destructive policies
April 22 is called International Earth Day. This is a day to raise awareness and appreciation of the planet’s environment. The environment in Iran is dying and totally destroyed because of the mullahs’ destructive policies.
The mullahs’ inhumane and predatory policies on natural resources and climate change have caused drought year after year. The phenomena will impact not only future generations but also the present generation. For many years, Iranian women and children have suffered from water shortages and thirst, poverty, unemployment, various diseases, and other painful problems.
Following is a brief report on some of the serious damages the mullahs’ destructive policies have caused for Iranians and particularly women.
Climate change in Iran, a look at the mullahs’ destructive policies
Iran is among the top ten polluting countries globally in greenhouse gas emissions. It annually emits more than six hundred million tons of greenhouse gases into the Earth’s atmosphere.
According to Ahad Vazifeh, director of the National Center for Climate and Drought Crisis Management of the Meteorological Organization, the trend of temperature rise in Iran is above the global average. In the spring and the winter of 2021, the country’s average temperature was about 2 to 3 degrees Celsius, higher than the long-term average. In some areas, such as the country’s northwest, the temperature has increased between 3 to 6 degrees Celsius. (The official IRNA News Agency, July 7, 2021)
In July 2018, the mullahs’ regime interior minister warned that Iran was on the verge of a serious social crisis, namely climate migration, which could make a significant difference in the social essence of Iran over the next five years. (BBC Persian, October 12, 2021; Website of the Atlantic Council, July 7, 2021)
Iran’s metropolitan cities are disproportionately affected by these risks, and in this regard, they do not have the appropriate institutional and infrastructural support. There is no health infrastructure to deal with the injured and sick people due to the climate crisis in Tehran. In times of crisis, there is no possibility of providing services for the city commensurate with its population.
Climate change-related crises are rampant, engulfing the entire city and surrounding areas. Thus, they continuously destroy the city’s social and economic capital in an erosive process. Examples of these effects can be found in the phenomenon of dust storms and power outages in Khuzestan and its effects in the fall of 2021. (Wikipedia – last modified: October 8, 2021)
The mullahs’ destructive policies – Drying up lakes in Iran
Most of the Iranian lakes are drying up.
The Caspian Sea, the largest lake in the world with four hundred aquatic species, is drying up completely. (The state-run ISNA News Agency, December 10, 2017)
According to Dariush Yousefi Kebria, director of the National Center for Caspian Sea Studies and Research, “over the past 20 years, the water level of the Caspian Sea has decreased by 130 cm.” (The Government Radio and Television News Agency, August 16, 2017) Declining water levels have economic and social consequences for the coastal residents of this sea, and extensive construction on dry shores makes these damages much heavier.
Lake Urmia, the sixth-largest saltwater lake in the world, is also struggling with aridity. If Lake Urmia dries up, the dust and sediments from the lakebed will move for kilometers with a breeze causing disease in surrounding communities. Between 6 and 20 million people in the region, who have become poorer in the absence of this vital resource, are forced to emigrate. (The official ISNA News Agency, August 11, 2021)
Lake Hamoun was the third largest lake in Iran and played a key role in the lives of the people of Sistan and Baluchestan. It is now completely dry, and no traces of life can be found in it. With the destruction of Hamoon, 15,000 fishermen lost their jobs, and women who used to produce handicrafts from the reeds lost their source of income. Livestock farmers have emigrated with 120,000 cows, and 800 villages have been affected by the influx of moving sands. (The state-run Mehr News Agency, November 7, 2021)
Likewise, Bakhtegan Lake, the largest lake in Fars province, has completely dried up and turned into a salt plain. The lake has all the conditions for creating a salt storm in the area. The state media acknowledges that one of the causes of the Bakhtegan drought is the uncontrolled abstraction of water in the watershed. (The state-run Mehr News Agency, November 7, 2021)
The construction of three dams, Doroudvand, Mulla Sadra, and Sivand, is another factor that aggravates the drought crisis of the lakes in Fars province. In addition to Bakhtegan, the lakes of Arjan and Tashk in this province have also dried up. The dryness of these lakes and the loss of plant life have caused the weather in Fars Province to resemble desert conditions. (Radio Farda, September 1, 2008)
Issa Kalantari, the head of the Environment Organization in 2018, admitted, “We did not know how to manage water resources. We built a dam upstream. We dragged the downstream into misery.” The dryness of these lakes caused the migration of 60% of the villagers in the area. (BBC Persian, June 12, 2016)
The mullahs’ destructive policies – Drying of wetlands and rivers
There are three million hectares of wetlands in Iran; 1.5 million hectares of them are registered as international wetlands. But according to Ahmad Reza Lahijanzadeh, deputy director of the Marine Environment and Wetlands of the Environmental Protection Agency, over-harvesting of water resources has reduced the life of Iran’s wetlands. (The state-run Atieh Website, December 12, 2021)
In 2017, Hamid Zahrabi, Deputy Minister of Natural Environment and Biodiversity, estimated the dryness level of Iran’s wetlands at 80%. (Iran International, June 1, 2016)
Environmental activist Mohammad Ali Yekta Nik confirms, “Drought and mismanagement of water resources no longer have any mercy on any wetland.” He points out that “the drying up of wetlands will bring poverty, and people who are tired of empty tables will think of migrating, as we have witnessed in recent years with large-scale migration to large cities and the expansion of suburbanization.” (The official ISNA News Agency, August 11, 2021)
Abdul Hussein Mirmiran, an environmental activist in northern Iran, also called the “inappropriate interference and manipulation of nature” the “main reason for the drought in the country’s wetlands.” About 95% of the Anzali wetland in Gilan province, known for its more than fifty species of fish and plant organisms, especially its tulips and water lilies, has dried up.
Ehsan Hadipour, head of the Bandar Anzali Department of Environmental Protection, also admits, “Due to the extent of the existing demolition and seizures and the presence of unauthorized structures on its outskirts, it requires a long time to compensate for damages and rehabilitate.” The depth of Anzali Wetland has decreased from nine meters to less than one meter due to the annual entry of 580 thousand tons of domestic and industrial sediments. (BBC Persian, June 12, 2016)
Gavkhoni is another famous wetland that has dried up due to the corruption of the clerical regime. Scattering of fine dust, contaminated with industrial and heavy materials at the bottom of this wetland, can move up to 500 km and cause strange diseases. Ignoring the Gavkhoni aquifer and closing the Zayandeh River, creating water-based industries, or building villas are the main reasons for the aridity of this wetland. (The official ISNA News Agency, August 11, 2021; BBC Persian, June 11, 2018)
The huge Hur al-Azim wetland on the Iran-Iraq border, with an Iranian section of 130,000 hectares, “does not exist anymore,” said Hamid Reza Khodabakhshi, deputy director of the Khuzestan Water and Electricity Organization. It has now become one of the main sources of dust. Military operations during the Iran-Iraq war have played a key role in the drying up of this wetland. (The state-run Baharnews.ir, July 17, 2021; BBC Persian, June 12, 2016)
But the problem does not end only with the war. Ismail Kahrom, a government ecologist, blames the Karkheh Dam for accelerating the drying up of Hur al-Azim; “In fact, the number one defendant in the destruction of Hur al-Azim is the oil company and the Ministry of Oil. The ministry has closed the water to this wetland to get a discount from Chinese contractors for oil extraction in this area,” he explained. (The state-run ROKNA News Agency, July 19, 2021)
A member of the Khuzestan Provincial Assembly admitted that “the gradual death of Hur al-Azim was due to clear oppression resulting from sectional water-based policies, and mismanagement.” (The state-run Jamaran.news, July 4, 2021)
The mullahs’ destructive policies – Rivers
Some major rivers in Iran, such as Karun, Zayandehrud, and Kor, are drying up.
The Koohrang dams and tunnel projects 1, 2, and 3 with a total transfer of 765 million cubic meters of water to Isfahan; Beheshtabad dam and tunnel with a transfer of 770 million cubic meters to Isfahan, Kerman, and Yazd; Cheshmeh Langan dam and tunnel with 195 million cubic meters of water transfer to Isfahan; Kamal Saleh Dam in Arak with storage of 100 million cubic meters; and Dez springs with the transfer of 181 million cubic meters to Qom, Arak, Isfahan, Yazd; are parts of the mullahs’ destructive policies that have led to the drying up of these rivers. (The state-run Baharnews.ir, July 17, 2021)
According to Abdullah Izadpanah, chairperson of the provincial assembly, “Khuzestan pays the price for recklessness and wrong decisions. Khuzestan is being destroyed. The security of Khuzestan is in danger.” (The state-run Baharnews.ir, July 17, 2021)
Zayandehrud was one of the most important rivers in Iran, which dried up due to mismanagement and greed. Population density and the transfer of major industries such as Isfahan Steel, oil refinery, petrochemicals, chemical industries, Mobarakeh Steel, and Sepahan Oil Company are part of the mullahs’ destructive policies in this regard. Improper abstraction of water from this river and the creation of unscientific wells from groundwater are other parts of the actions leading to this tragedy. The drying of the Zayandeh River has left several hundred thousand people unemployed and forced them to migrate. (Kojaro.com tourist site, the state-run Shahrara website, November 27, 2021; the official IRNA News Agency, October 10, 2020)
The Kor River, the largest river in Fars province and the second-largest waterway in Iran, is also being destroyed. The petrochemical complex dumps its sewage into this river. (The state-run Khabarban.com, November 23, 2019)
Mullah Mohseni Ejei, the head of the regime’s judiciary, confessed: “Most of the infringements and encroachments to the rivers and illegal constructions take place by governmental agencies.” (The state-run Khabarban.com, November 22, 2019)
The mullahs’ destructive policies – Water shortages
The mullahs’ destructive policies have exposed the people and women in Iran to severe water shortages. Former Agriculture Minister Issa Kalantari describes the water shortage situation in Iran as far greater than a foreign military attack, and Hedayat Fahmi, deputy director-general of the Bureau of Macro-Water Planning, warns, “The water crisis in Iran is now turned into a social crisis.”
Drought directly impacts rural women’s employment rate and income level, especially farmers. Declining food production has led to rising food prices. (Euronews, February 9, 2014; the state-run Donya-e-Eqtesad.com, January 17, 2022)
When there is no water for agriculture, farmers’ livelihoods are destroyed. This year, in some areas, such as the south of Fars province, planted barley and wheat could not be harvested, and they were given to sheep. (The state-run Entekhab.ir, June 29, 2021)
According to the state media, at least two hundred villages in Hormozgan province, 350 villages in Khorasan Razavi, 120 villages in Lorestan, eight hundred villages in Kerman, and 100% of the villages in the port city of Chabahar are irregularly supplied with worn-out and unsanitary tankers. (The official IRNA News Agency, July 23, 2019; the official IRNA News Agency, July 17, 2021; the state-run Asriran.com, June 15, 2020; and the state-run Quds website, October 14, 2017)
In the absence of a proper piping system, women, especially in the deprived and arid provinces of Khuzestan, and Sistan-and-Baluchestan, are forced to carry water after long hours of waiting in long queues walking long distances home. This causes many physical problems for them.
Women and girls in Sistan and Baluchestan have no choice but to go to hootags (a pit dug to store water) and buy all kinds of dangers to get drinking water and other essential necessities. There have been instances of women and girls being drowned or hunted by crocodiles while fetching water from these pits.
The above report, a look at the mullahs’ destructive policies, is a small part of the consequences of the mullahs’ destructive policies and inaction that have destroyed our planet’s environment. We call on international activists and environmental organizations to hold the mullahs’ regime to account for its destructive actions against mother nature.