People, Environment

DOE: Environmental Unawareness Has a Price

DOE: Environmental Unawareness Has a PriceDOE: Environmental Unawareness Has a Price

The Iranian public lacks the drive to fight for environmental concerns and this could prove costly, according to an official at the Department of Environment.

Speaking to ILNA, Mohammad Darvish, director of the Education and Public Participation Office at the DOE, said, “People are not sensitized to environmental issues and seem unaware of their environmental rights.”

Calling environmental education a duty of the department, the official said the DOE is focusing on the youth and has begun promoting environmental awareness in kindergartens.

“For instance, we’ve started training graduates in environmental fields to become kindergarten teachers. They can help instill a sense of responsibility in the children toward the environment” Darvish said.

When environmental disasters such as the desiccation of Lake Urmia or the alarmingly high rate of desertification in Iran do not spur people to action, it means “we as educators have failed,” the news agency quoted him as saying.

Darvish said the Iranian people have shown time and again that when they care about something, they do their utmost to be heard and instigate change.

Last week, Azeri speakers in several northwestern cities and towns staged protests sparked by a children’s program on the state-run television that they said “ridiculed the accents of Azeris and included offensive jokes.”

“A children’s program sparked widespread outrage among Azeri speakers and they did not shy away from going public with it. But they did not show a fraction of the same sensitivity they showed to that TV program for Lake Urmia whose desiccation endangers not only Azeri traditions and culture, but the wellbeing of everyone living in the vicinity of the lake,” Darvish complained.

“I’m not rationalizing the (controversial) TV program, but it does make one wonder if people have gotten their priorities straight.”

Twice as large as Luxembourg during its heydays, Lake Urmia has shrunk substantially. According to published reports, it was sliced in half in 2008 and its surface area has dwindled to around 10% of its average size over five decades.

Experts say if the lake dries up, it will affect all life in a 100-kilometer radius, even forcing residents of a metropolis like Tabriz to evacuate.