Azerbaijan Pollution


Figure 1.--"There are not a lot of large, old trees in Baku, but thanks to First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva, young trees a re springing up all over the city, including parks like the one here. A massive tree planting campaign is underway throughout the country.

The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was declared at the end of World War I with the implosion of the Tsarist Empire (1918). The country was invaded by Soviet forces (1920). It became one of the Soviet Socialist Republics (SSRs). Like other SSRs, The Soviet central planners in Moscow pursued economic developmen. The entire Caucasaus at the time as extremely backward and the new Soviet leaders sought to develop and modernize the economy. Azerbaijan was a special priority because of the oil resource. Azeri oil would play a particularly important role in World War II. It was targeted by Hitler (1942). German forces approched Aberbaijan but were stopped in the mountains. After the War, contunued to finance a range of agrcultural and industrial projects. Propaganda lauded these economic efforts, but not a word about the enviroment. Soviet plaanners focused on production mean that they gave not only gave no thought to the environmental consequences, but ignored the very serious developing environmental problems. Even in the closed Soviet society, the environmental problems began to surface in the last decade of the Soviet Union. Environmental awareness began to surface in the USSR for the first time (1980s). General Secretary's Grrbachev's Perestroika and Glasnost policies meant that some of the enviromenatl problems in the Soviet Union began to leak out. Azerbaijanís high infant mortality rate began to be reported as well as the high rates of infectious diseases. Both were linked to the chemicals used in cotton growing, chemicals applied by aerial spraying. Dangerously high concentrations of pesticides and fertilizers were used to increase Azerbaijanís agricultural harvests. Azerbaijan became independent with the disolution of the Soviet Union (1992). The Soviet econmomic policies left the country at independence one of the most polluted in the world. But unlike Soviet times, the tragedy could no longer be covered up. Terrible pollution from Soviet heavy industries and agriculture had severely damaged the Azeri environment. Much of the most serious problens were related to the petroleum oil industry and agriculture, especially cotton farming. The contamination of the Caspian Sea from oil drilling in Baku was a problem beginning in Tsarist times when the Russians which has seized control of the Caucauses from the Ottoman Empire. As the industrial economy began to demnand oil, the Russians began to rapidly exploit its oil reserves (late-19th century). The Soviets significantly expanded production and with it pollution levels. Petroleum waste was routinely dumped into the Caspian. This included both the wastes from drilling and refinery operations. The Caspian was also polluted from the discharge of raw, untreated sewage. The pollution and overfishing depleted the stocks of sturgeon. Severe air pollution became a problem in the major cities due to emissions from petroleum and chemical industries and agricultural chemicals. The independent Azerbaijan Government was generally aware of the environmental problems, for many yraars addressing those problems was not a governmental priority.

Tsarist Era ( -1918)

The contamination of the Caspian Sea from oil drilling in Baku was a problem beginning in Tsarist times when the Russians which has seized control of the Caucauses from the Ottoman Empire. As the industrial economy began to demnand oil, the Russians began to rapidly exploit its oil reserves (late-19th century).

Soviet Era (1920-90)

The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was declared at the end of World War I with the implosion of the Tsarist Empire (1918). The country was invaded by Soviet forces (1920). It became one of the Soviet Socialist Republics (SSRs). Like other SSRs, The Soviet central planners in Moscow pursued economic developmen. The entire Caucasaus at the time as extremely backward and the new Soviet leaders sought to develop and modernize the economy. Azerbaijan was a special priority because of the oil resource. Azeri oil would play a particularly important role in World War II. It was targeted by Hitler (1942). German forces approched Aberbaijan but were stopped in the mountains. After the War, contunued to finance a range of agrcultural and industrial projects. Propaganda lauded these economic efforts, but not a word about the enviroment. Soviet plaanners focused on production mean that they gave not only gave no thought to the environmental consequences, but ignored the very serious developing environmental problems. The Soviets significantly expanded production and with it pollution levels. Petroleum waste was routinely dumped into the Caspian. This included both the wastes from drilling and refinery operations. The Caspian was also polluted from the discharge of raw, untreated sewage. The pollution and overfishing depleted the stocks of sturgeon. Severe air pollution became a problem in the major cities due to emissions from petroleum and chemical industries and agricultural chemicals. Even in the closed Soviet society, the environmental problems began to surface in the last decade of the Soviet Union. Environmental awareness began to surface in the USSR for the first time (1980s). General Secretary's Grrbachev's Perestroika and Glasnost policies meant that some of the enviromenatl problems in the Soviet Union began to leak out. Azerbaijanís high infant mortality rate began to be reported as well as the high rates of infectious diseases. Both were linked to the chemicals used in cotton growing, chemicals applied by aerial spraying. Dangerously high concentrations of pesticides and fertilizers were used to increase Azerbaijanís agricultural harvests.

Independence (1992- )

Azerbaijan became independent with the disolution of the Soviet Union (1992). The Soviet econmomic policies left the country at independence one of the most polluted in the world. But unlike Soviet times, the tragedy could not longedr be covered up. Terrible pollution from Soviet heavy industries and agriculture had severely damaged the Azeri environment. Much of the most serious problens were related to the petroleum oil industry and agriculture, especially cotton farming. The independent Azerbaijan Government was generally aware of the environmental problems, for many yraars addressing those problems was not a governmental priority. One observer reports, "When I first visited Azrrbaijan in 1990, I witnessed a country whose environment was devestated by the Soviet Union. .... I recall having difficulty breathing due to high levls of pollutants in the air abd even boiling waters from the Caspian Sea in order to make mself a cup of tea. The road rom the airport to the center of Baku, the capital, was devpoid of ant trees and instead one could only see 'lakes' of crude oil on the surface. Saddly, central planners in Moscow had robbed this secular Muslim nation of 9 million of its beautiful landscape, including its beautiful trees.' [Sobhani, p. B4.] Ilham Aliyev is Azerbaijan's long-serving president. Mehriban Aliyeva, Azerabaijan's First Lady, is a cerified tree hugger. Only there weren't a lot of trees to hug whn she became First Lady. She has almost single handedly launched a massive tree planting campaign that has begun to transform the Azeri landscape. And as a result of her and other efforts, the country has begun to take the long road toward an environmental comeback. Planting trees is noy just an esthetic matter, trees in large numbers lock up massive quantities carbon, reduxing CO2 concentratins in the atmosphere.

Sources

Sobhani, S. Rob. CEO of Caspian Geoup Holdings. "Azerbaijan's first lady of tree palnting," The Washington Times (August 27, 2019), p. B4.







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Created: 10:33 PM 8/28/2019
Last updated: 10:33 PM 8/28/2019