Monday, January 15, 2007


we know that the earthquake shall strike istanbul and whatever our sins, like in the promised coming of christ, the apocalypse will cleanse us of all our tresspasses. so never mind the danger and keep on tresspassing.

but till the lightning of doom strikes us, what other evils and ills of our own making may claim our souls in a more slowly encroaching armageddon? how responsibly have we approached and formatted our collective life that in fateful submission we await the end with such abandon that sodom would envy? so, the earthquake is imminent, but is it the only killer lurking? let us have a look at the basics elements of life then:

air: air is a lethal matter in istanbul, as it is in almost every single settlement throughout turkey. it is replete with sulfur dioxide, suspended micro particles, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and various volatile chemicals. high pressure often brings about respiratory and coronary illnesses. the traffic mess exacerbates noxious emissions. the winds simply shift the polluted air around city blocks instead of away from it because unplanned urbanization is badly unmatched to topography and the city's airways are clogged by high-price high-rises. a permanent cloud of yellow smog which denotes alarming sulphurous concentrations hangs above us like a halo of evil. add to that the army of smoking turks, which only in istanbul, is no fewer than 10 million, consuming no less than one pack of cigarettes per day.
what about the lungs of istanbul? the woods and the forests? prime real estate out for grabs. consumed by concrete!

water: joking? what water? even before the mildest winter in years is over, "authorities" have already begun mumbling their concern about water shortages. shortages? the least of our problem. the environment is so badly damaged, so soaked with chemicals, poisons, even nuke material according to some that untreated water can melt one's bones! sea water... hmmm... free sewage and effluent dump. release all kinds of liquid waste into 50 meters and forget about it. it's called deep sea discharge and it has plagued the marine environment all around the anatolian and thracean peninsulae where turks reside. of course, dumped (instead of treated and purified) water is also wasted water, so hello again, dry days!

fire: sign of purity? the ultimate cleanser? sure. 3 million or so heavier motor vehicles in urban istanbul, most of them active during the daytime, emitting fumes uncontrollably by way of their combustion chambers many of which either can't burn the fuel any more or is not supplied with the right quality of fuel to burn. petroleum products in turkey are still below par by global standards. they don't even burn properly... the simplest measure is to compel at least buses, trucks and the like to funnel their exhausts upward, through pipes that reach high into the air. instead, we breathe in the gases and particles they emit.
add more than four million buildings to warm up. half of them lack natural gas connection and burn anything, including wood, scrapped wood, sawdust, cowdung and burnt engine oil. sometimes they soak the sawdust or dung in burnt oil. wood is a major pollutant, oil is worse and gas is best. but gas, too, is a pollutant nevertheless! especially if two million buildings and more factories are using it.
then industry... the industry uses the highest priced energy in the world, fossil fuels and electric power. it also uses it in the least efficient manner. the industry, including manufacturers that are state owned, dump their effluence, untreated of course, into nature. most rivers in turkey that are situated near industries, even small town machine parks and repair shops are so polluted that they cannot sustain life.
turkey's industry is almost exclusively (about 70 percent according to economists) stuck into a triangular strip that extends from adapazarı in asia to çorlu in thrace, then down at most to balıkesir via bursa in the south. the whole triangle represents an area of 200 by 25o kilometers at best. turkey, which is close to a million square kliks, houses, feeds, toilet trains, tries to clean after, mismanages, malurbanizes about 45 million people, more than 60 percent of its population, in only 50 thousand kms square.

earth: read the last sentence above again. then tear down fertile farms, fields, valleys, woods, forests to build houses that are at best eyesores, factories that produce incompetitive goods, shanty towns to shelter peasant populations flocking to find work in those industries but mostly cannot, make roads for more cars.
release pollutants into rivers and seas so they seep into the soil. de-plant slopes and watch erosion wash the country into the ocean. emigrate from rural areas into towns.
on top of a barely or poorly competitive industry, lose your edge in agriculture. start importing food.

earthquake: if you screw up god's earth like that, you'd better be expecting it to shake you up and awake or down and dead!

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