“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” -Aldo Leopold
There will always be a moral obligation to protect the environment, just as there is a moral obligation for a mother to protect her child. For the child’s future depends entirely on the fate of our environment.
A fate which is, frankly, not looking so great.
Watt-Cloutier argued that the environmental crisis is overly politicized. A Canadian Inuit activist, Watt-Cloutier described the wave of environmental degradation—the human-induced climate change—that she saw overtaking the snow-covered land she had been raised to admire and respect. She believes that by moving the argument into the arena of human rights, we, as an international community, can focus on climate change’s consequences on “our children, our families, and our communities.” Only through this moral obligation, then, can we as individuals fight for the conservation of a global welfare and the future of the whole planet’s subsequent generations.
While climate change and environmental degradation are a global issue, the main abusers remain largely in the developed world. Turkey is classified as a developed nation, and with a population of over 81 million inhabitants, the country certainly contributes to the dire environmental crisis of today. According to The Encyclopedia of Earth, Turkey’s major environmental problems include:
- water pollution from dumping of chemicals and detergents;
- air pollution, particularly in urban areas;
- deforestation; and,
- concern for oil spills from increasing Bosporus ship traffic
In part due to the country’s efforts to join the European Union, Turkey has made substantial progress in addressing it’s environmental impact, specifically with “reductions of air pollution in Istanbul and Ankara.” The nation signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol by 2009 and has also signed international agreements on “Air Pollution, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, and Wetlands.” However, the nation has struggled with weak enforcement and issues of oversight, as was highlighted in 2006 with the discovery of multiple chemical waste sites (Turkey Investment and Business).
Turkey’s Environment Ministry was established in 1991. There are also many environmental activist organizations in the country, including a Turkish branch of Greenpeace. A study conducted in 2008 noted that the number of environmental organizations in Turkey jumped from 136 between 1925 and 1995 to 439 in the 1995-2007 period (Today’s Zaman). Also noted was the increasing role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in raising environmental awareness and activism in the region. The study suggested that the “majority of environmental NGOs in Turkey are interested in areas such as protection of nature, biological diversity, forests, erosion, sea and coasts,” but “are weak in areas such as mining and the nuclear energy debate.” While the study criticized Turkish NGOs for the nation’s delayed response to global climate change, the increasing nature of such organizations and the eventual adoption of the cause suggest that Turkey is making strides towards being a more active actor in the global solution.