Op-Ed: Climate Change-The View From Turkey

Interesting to note how much foreign journalists address ecosystem health/biodiversity as well as water/food security-sovereignty issues-vs. how little U.S. journalists say about them.


… 85 percent of the land area in Turkey is
“highly vulnerable to desertification.”

“We should assume our responsibility to reduce
our carbon footprint and kick the habit. It is
the only way out.”
This person-like many foreign journalists-says alot about food security & ecosystem
protectection…unlike U.S. journalists-who generally say very little about those subjects
Today’s Zaman
June 5, 2008


Kick the CO2 habit: toward a low- carbon economy

It has already begun. The chain reaction of
events related to climate change affects us all.
More than ever, extreme weather conditions are
causing severe natural disasters.

Droughts and floods, melting ice in the polar
regions, rising sea levels, damage to ecosystems
and loss of biodiversity are all indicators of
climate change. Even the most persistent skeptics
now agree that climate change is real and that it
is happening. It has a drastic impact on our
daily lives. And it is caused by a human
addiction: our dangerous carbon habit.
Carbon-based energy consumption and our
dependence on fossil fuels have caused the
eventual buildup of dangerous amounts of
greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.It has had
devastating effects on our lives. In Bangladesh
alone, 70 million people living in the country’s
coastal areas face inundation if sea levels
continue to rise. Another major victim of climate
change is biodiversity. The loss of biodiversity
directly undermines our food supply. About
one-fifth of domestic animal breeds are at risk
of extinction, with an average of one lost each
month. Of the 7,000 species of plants
domesticated over our 10,000-year history of
agriculture, only 30 account for the vast
majority of the food we eat every day.

Our food supply is at risk

The food crisis is already showing brutal
consequences for humans. The price of food is
soaring. The threat of hunger and malnutrition is
growing. Millions of the world’s most vulnerable
people are at risk. And according to a recent
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO) Food Report, prices will remain high over
the next decade. Even if prices fall from current
record levels, it will still mean that millions
more risk further hardship or hunger. And that is
not all we are doing to damage the planet. We
also destroy the ecosystem that once had full
power to absorb greenhouse gases. Valuable
forests around the world have been sacrificed for
their timber. This continues at an alarming rate
so plantations can supply a growing demand for
biofuels. Fertile lands are turning to desert.
Oceans are facing the danger of losing key
species critical to the continuity of its

Mitigation and adaptation is the way out

Unfortunately, we cannot reverse what has already
started. However to reduce its effects we can
focus on mitigation and adaptation.Nobody is
immune from the results of climate change.
Although the poor of the world will be hit
hardest, even the richest nations face the
prospects of economic recession and a world in
conflict over diminishing resources.

Turkey takes steps

Turkey is also at risk. It is among the regions
that will be adversely affected by climate change
— and its consequences are already being felt in
the country. Additionally, 85 percent of the land
area in Turkey is “highly vulnerable to
desertification.” With this in mind, Turkey has
geared up to take necessary steps forward.
Recently, President Abdullah Gül and the Turkish
government said that the United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto
Protocol were the most effective tools for
sustainable development and Turkey was preparing
to assume its responsibilities as a party to the
UN convention. This is a very encouraging step

The United Nations Turkey Office also works with
the Turkish government to boost Turkey’s capacity
to mitigate and adapt to climate change. To that
end, with support from Spanish government
funding, the UN Turkey Office and Turkish
Ministry of Environment and Forestry began the
first climate adaptation project in Turkey.
Several UN agencies, including UNDP as the
leading agency, Food and Agricultural
Organization of the United Nations (FAO), United
Nations Industrial Development Organization
(UNIDO) and United Nations Environment Program
(UNEP) are parties to the project.

Global response is a must

A global response to climate change is a must to
mitigate and thus eradicate poverty by avoiding
major global instability causing dire
consequences for humanity.

That is why the theme of this year’s World
Environment Day (June 5) is “Kick the Habit:
Toward a Low Carbon Economy.” It is a way to show
the dreadful consequences of our carbon addiction
and the way out. Although it is not possible to
reverse the effects of climate change, the good
news is that technologies to mitigate and adapt
to climate change exist or are under development.
These same technologies will also make our
consumption of carbon-based fuels cleaner and
more efficient. Renewable energy is also an
important priority.

There are other encouraging developments. Earlier
this year, to move swiftly toward carbon
neutrality, UNEP launched the Climate Neutral
Network (CN Net). Today it has a wide membership
portfolio, including countries, corporations and

These projects and initiatives show that we are
all part of the solution. We should assume our
responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint and
kick the habit. It is the only way out.

*Mahmood Ayub is the UN resident coordinator in Turkey.


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