Tuesday, December 26, 2006

salt of the earth? scum of the earth?

sunday, hürriyet's ankara edition ran a story of the tuz gölü (salt lake). the lake is ituated about 125 kilometers south east of ankara, on the way to konya and capadoccia. it is the second largest lake in turkey and has a salt density only second to the dead sea. the salt beds on its shores provide about two million tons of salt per year.

recently, the lake also began attracting (more) visitors from the capital and foreign tourists travelling central anatolia. sunrises and sunsets on the flat whiteness and the blue expanse of water are indeed breathtaking to watch. the salty mud which accumulates in pockets is supposed to be good for rheumatic pains. the paper reports that many people, mainly women, wipe it on their faces in order to cure / prevent wrinkles. the authorities of the settlements around the lake want to promote tuz gölü as a national and international attraction in order to fill their cups while it is raining.

so far, so good. but what kind of rain is it?

for years, at least since the late 80's, environmentalist have been rending their garments to save tuz gölü. the lake is the sole receptacle of konya's sewage, as well as effluents from smaller settlements nearby and various agricultural poisons. as always in turkey, the waste is grossly untreated. tuz gölü is only 3.5 meters deep at its highest and the sewage of more than a million does present a vital threat not only to the lake itself as well as posing a health hazard for the people who live by it and possibly those who use its products.

so far, so bad, because nobody gives a four-letter-word about that substance described by the four-letter-word that goes into the salt we consume.

salt of the earth turned into scum of the earth? that tends to happen if you think "environment" is a four-letter-word.

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