After Turkey’s coronavirus epidemic, “Good riddance” was the phrase that could have been used to say goodbye to 2020. The pandemic did not end in 2021. There were more disasters ahead for Turkey in 2021. Climate crisis.
For instance, drought has made its presence more evident across lakes and rivers throughout the year and it doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon as the country prepares its plans for a worsening water shortage. The country’s largest lakes, Van and TuzThe country’s water supply has been decreasing rapidly. This was evident in the form of a noticeable shrinkage and images of boats on dry land, made visible by receding waters, were a common, tragic sight. According to environmentalists climate change and aggressive farming methods are responsible for the risk of water shortages. This was evident in late 2020 when official data showed that water levels at dams were at record lows because of a lack of rain. In a speech in October, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan painted a gloomy picture based on data that indicated the country’s usable water supplies would keep shrinking. He stated that Turkey is not a country with abundant water resources. “This data shows that our water potenicity, which is not yet rich in it, will decline more in the next years.”
After a long winter dry spell, the country was on alert. This prompted fears of a water shortage in Istanbul. Although the fears were alleviated by the rains that followed, there is still the possibility of future droughts. As a precaution, authorities have readied several action plans, and Erdoğan assured the public in March that plans for water management have been laid out all the way up to 2071.
As the drought became more severe, another water-related threat appeared in the Marmara Sea.Sea snot“Marine mucilage” is also known as “sea snot”. Sea snot, a phenomenon that had been limited in its manifestation in the past but which made headlines early in summer, was first discovered on the Marmara Sea shores. Within a few weeks, it expanded from Tekirdağ in the northwest to Bursa in the south of the sea. The mucus-like substance is a product of microalgae called phytoplankton. This forms the base for marine and freshwater food chain. It was created from decades of pollution in Marmara Sea. Climate change was another factor that made the situation worse. Mucilage is produced when sea conditions change. However, it needs to be in a stagnant environment with high levels of nitrogen or phosphorus for formation. Mucilage is a natural process that occurs under normal conditions. However, it can expand excessively when the temperature and light are right. Experts believe that the Marmara Sea’s structure, increased pollution and waste, and global climate change are the major factors behind the extreme mucilage formation. It took several weeks to remove all traces of mucilage from the Marmara’s surface. A thorough cleaning campaign was launched in June. However, the mucilage threat continued at the bottom, choking marine wildlife.
The Black Sea region in the north was engulfed with FloodsIn the summer. Six people were killed in the first major floods that struck Rize, a province used to flooding, on July 6. However, the worst floods of the season and in the region’s recent history were in an area to the west of Rize during August. Kastamonu, Bartın and Sinop were inundated with floodwaters after an unprecedented amount of rain. In Kastamonu’s Bozkurt, where floodwaters destroyed multistory buildings, dozens of people were killed in the span of a few days, and many are still missing. The climate crisis made matters worse in a region that has almost year-round rains due to its climate. Experts say that rising seawater temperatures, a result of global warming, are some of the major causes for the recent floods that have been common in the region.
In addition to flooding, the country was also forced into fighting several other issues. forest firesThis year, we will deal with the devastating aftermath. Starting late July and continuing into the second week of August, the wildfires were particularly devastating for Antalya and Muğla, two Mediterranean provinces. The wildfires caused widespread destruction in villages by the extreme temperatures and strong winds in the two cities that have warm climates.
Climate change resurfaced in November as storms. Six people were killed in one of most devastating storms to hit Istanbul, and other western cities, in recent history. Unprecedented strong winds tore down walls, tore away roofs, and caused havoc throughout the Marmara region.
Turkey was not in despair when it came to fighting climate change. Turkey was a party to Paris’ climate deal for years, but it finally ratified it in 2021 after some modifications were made to the conditions. Turkey was classified as a developed country and therefore doesn’t require additional funding to finance its efforts to combat climate change.
Authorities announced that Turkey had also signed a memorandum with international institutions to obtain loans in excess of $3.1 billion (TL 39.5 billion) to help meet the Paris Agreement’s clean energy goals.
The Zero Waste Project, championed by first lady Emine Erdoğan, also gained traction in 2021. Between 2017 and 2021, the recycling program, which aims at reducing pollution and the effects of the climate crisis, recycled 24.2 millions tons of paper, plastic and glass. The project aims to push Turkey’s recycling rate to 35% by 2023 while creating employment for some 100,000 people in the recycling industry. It attracted both public and private interest. The government has provided training for 12.5 million people on zero waste practices so far while some 100,000 public institutions, as well as some municipalities, have switched to zero waste policies – from reducing waste to properly sorting it at its source to be properly recycled.
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