Wed, Apr 17, 2019 - Page 7 News List

FEATURE: Industrial pollution, climate threaten Caspian Sea


A study by Azerbaijan’s Academy of Sciences estimated that the sea level is dropping by more than 6cm per year.

“Climate change along the Caspian Sea basin causes very rapid evaporation,” said Elnur Safarov, an Azerbaijani marine scientist and one of the study’s authors.

“The five countries bordering the Caspian, their economies, their lives, depend on it completely — fishing, the oil industry, agriculture, communications,” he said. “When the sea level changes ... the social and economic situation of the entire coastline changes.”

Caspian Sea countries last year signed an agreement defining the status of the sea, which had lacked an international legal framework since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The agreement mainly regulates military use, oil and gas extraction and caviar production, and advocates have so far been disappointed that it has not touched on environmental issues.

They worry that the Caspian might share the fate of Central Asia’s Aral Sea, which has all but vanished in one of the world’s greatest environmental catastrophes.

“It would be so stupid to lose it [the Caspian] like the Aral Sea,” Garayev said. “I don’t want to think about it. It would be a crime.”

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