The Forum for Partners in Iran's Marketplace

June 2022, No. 100


Tech Poverty; Environmental Pollution

The main reason for the emergence of air pollution in Iran and most countries is fuel, energy and related technology.

Environmental pollution is the product of wrong policies in development processes and a result of economic activities that cause the destruction of nature and the environment.

Jalil Badamfirooz, former director of the Environmental Research Institute, says: There is a great connection between tech poverty and the destruction of nature, because with new technologies and sustainable policies, the economy can develop and on the other hand we can be a conservationist. But is there such a situation in Iran? 

What is the main cause of air pollution in Iran and most cities in the world?

The main reason for the emergence of air pollution in Iran and most countries is fuel, energy and related technology. It may be said at the outset that energy consumption is high in Iran. Yes, it is. But is high energy consumption the only cause of air pollution? No. With the studies that have been conducted in environmental research centers and with the documents that we have in our possession any increase in energy prices, especially gasoline, which is one of the main parameters of pollution in Iranian cities, will not have a direct impact on reducing air pollution in the country! Because in a short period of time, which is a maximum of 6 to 9 months, we can reduce gasoline consumption by 20 to 30 percent through increasing the price of gasoline to any figure.

The experience of other countries of the world and Iran has shown that after the passage of this period, due to the inflationary structure that gasoline has as an impact on other goods, the amount of gasoline consumption would go back to before the pricing period. Where to start to manage air pollution in polluted cities? Per capita car consumption in Iran is over 12 liters per hundred kilometers. While the standard for developed countries is three to four liters. We consume more energy per 100 kilometers than other developing or developed countries due to poor technology and lack of facilities, so we also produce more air pollution.

The truth is that the consumer is not interested in consuming more, but he makes the consumption because of the poor quality of the car that is produced and sold to him. On the other hand, we must also consider the law of clean air, which is a very comprehensive and good law for our economy today. Having conducted sufficient studies, I hereby declare that there is a chance of 95 percent this law would not be implemented because the government cannot perform its duties. One of the tasks of the government is modernization of the industries. The government is committed to renovate transportation and develop its infrastructure.

The new irrigation methods now being discussed in Iran are practically obsolete global methods of the past decades.

Expanding public transportation to reduce the mobility of private cars is one of the main tasks of governments. But has the government been successful in doing so? The answer is clear; No! This is because there is no proper budget and structure to accomplish this task. We cannot close Iran Khodro and Saipa car factories. In fact, these automakers used technology from 40 years ago. Technology is very important. The car model does not matter, but the car manufacturing technology is important. Therefore, the 1400 cars produced by these factories are also causing air pollution.

Economic development combined with sustainability and new technology can help the environment; but in Iran it has not moved towards sustainable and non-polluting production for reasons such as the sanctions and domestic mismanagement of car production and other products. Technology poverty is directly related to environmental pollution. Wherever there is a lack of technology, the environment is more degraded. Other factories such as iron, steel, copper, aluminum, cement, etc. are all moving to destroy Irans nature. 

Irans economy is based on the consumption of vital and natural resources. Governments in our country each come to power with the promise of employment, economic growth, improving the living conditions of the people, etc. and in order to achieve these minimum goals, they destroy the nature. What fate awaits economies based on the consumption of natural and vital resources?

Here we have to look at this issue from two perspectives. Sometimes the government promises to create jobs and to do so it must create production. Sometimes the government uses its natural resources for this promise. That the government has a duty to create jobs is a good commitment. It is natural that it should produce goods and services. From the 1960s onwards, it became clear to all developed countries that there was a direct link between poverty and environmental degradation in each region.

If a person is unemployed and poor, he will harm the nature and the environment more than a person who is economically in good shape. People want income. Therefore, they waste the available resources for income, and there is no source more convenient and cheaper than nature. For example, the forests of the Zagros are obvious examples of such aggression. Burning down oaks in the Zagros to obtain land and coal, vegetation, etc. can be described in this line of thinking.

Consumption of water resources in Iran is another example in this respect. Deep water harvesting for agricultural development is another disadvantage that poor people may use to earn a living. If the governments policy to create employment is based on sustainable development, it is naturally useful. But the biggest disadvantage is that the government wants to create jobs and production by consuming natural resources and encroaching on national resources and forests and ecological lands that must be preserved for the next generation. This is doomed to failure and can create crisis.

Crude selling in the world economies is a double crisis that, in addition to destroying the nature and creating pollution, in fact destroys the future of the land. This is in fact irreparable, and the damage caused by pollution and destruction, including the looting of the vital resources cannot be compensated with anything. If nature is destroyed, in many cases it is not fundamentally repairable, and the cost of nature destruction that enters the economy is far greater than the income from the launch of destructive projects. If the government wants to increase population or create jobs, it must change the way it manages resources. In the field of water consumption, irrigation and consumption methods must be changed. We consume about 70 billion cubic meters of water annually in agriculture sector, while our agricultural production is only 20 billion cubic meters of water per year.

The new irrigation methods now being discussed in Iran are practically obsolete global methods of the past decades. The truth is that we are lagging behind the world in many areas, including the introduction of technology for a variety of policy-related reasons, and the more we lag behind in technology, the greater the environmental degradation and pollution in various fields. New technologies related to the oil industry, steel industry, etc., automobile manufacturing and waste management, etc. today can put countries in the right position in the ranking of environmental management and vital resources. New methods in agriculture, for example, are to recycle water and prevent water wastage: Something that does not happen in our country! The fact is that it is not clear when we in Iran will go for new technologies in the field of energy extraction and water management, etc., and this will hold Iran further back and will further deplete and destroy Irans resources.

In the field of water, we are facing a serious challenge. The plundering of Irans water resources in times of water scarcity and drought for unfavorable agricultural consumption and the creation of illegal dams will cause migration, insecurity, regional conflicts and soil erosion, destruction of animal and plant species, and finally dust storms, etc. Eventually, all this will reduce the quality of human life in our country.

 Why in Iran we do not move towards green economy and production and natural resources and environment are not economically valued? In this case, it seems that we will have less consumption and reduce pollution, and that this method will create an economy compatible with nature and the climate and nature of Iran.

This is because our policymakers have no understanding of the conditions of the nature and probably no understanding of economics. In Third World countries like ours, statesmen seem to have very little time and the people have very little patience. These two phenomena are destructive. When governments do not have time and people do not have patience, the greatest damage is done to natural resources and the environment. The green economy requires high tolerance and, of course, the use of sustainable technology.

When jobs are to be created quickly, they move towards rapid and free consumption of resources. This method will cause destruction and pollution. People have little patience because they have problems, and this is a social and cultural issue, and their problems must be solved. Our statesmen are mostly unaware of their respective agencies. There should be the necessary knowledge and expertise, but it seems that no one is sitting in the right place.

The Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Development Plans, and the Supreme Leaders communicative policies on the environment, adequately address the economic value of the environment as a law or principle. An environmental proverb says: Is money better or air? They answer: Hold your nose and count your money! How can you count your money when you cannot breathe? We believe that everyone knows that clean air is important and the right of all people, but when they enter the field of action, no one is committed to doing it. Economic valuation of the environment, of course, is a relatively new category and is not very old in the world.

But during this period, for example, we have done so in some protected areas and national parks; but is this valuation taken into account in project decisions, planning, and policy assignments? My answer is no. Because the policies that protect the environment have not been taken seriously during these years and have basically not been a priority for governments and executives, and what has been destroyed is Irans nature with all their ecosystem and economic values ​​and what is left is pollution from their destruction for the people and the nature.


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