Turkey must modernize agricultural irrigation, use resources efficiently amid onset of climate change, say experts
Among all the potential dangers of climate change, the top risk it poses to Turkey is its threat to the country’s food security and water supplies, an expert told Anadolu Agency.
“Drought is the most pressing issue we need to deal with As a country, the most important problem we have in the context of climate change is our food security,” Levent Kurnaz, an Istanbul-based climate scientist, said in an interview on climate-change-related extreme weather events.
Water shortages would “reflect more heavily on agriculture,” Kurnaz warned of the alarming risks of drought and food insecurity, which he said demanded urgent action.
So, the country needs to preserve all the water resources it can and maximize its arable basins, especially since three-fourths of its lands are non-agricultural, asserted Kurnaz, who currently serves at the Center for Climate Change and Policy Studies at Bogazici University.
He also noted the health risks related to the falling water levels amid rising temperatures and strain in the healthcare system caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic, now in its second year.
“So, let’s say that there’s a heatwave in Istanbul and we see 45 degrees, there could be an incredible loss of life and we’re not ready for such problems,” he said.
Kurnaz went on to say that Turkey also is not prepared for other dangerous diseases, such as malaria and the West Nile virus if they arrive in Turkey with the changing climate.
Once the outbreak subsides, however, the top item on Turkey’s to-do list against climate change should be the modernization of its agriculture, he added.
“We have to modernize the irrigation systems in agriculture. We need to use only enough water for the plant and build a system in which no water is wasted.”
Extreme weather events in Turkey
One expected consequence of global climate change is an increase in frequency and severity of extreme weather events, said meteorologist Huseyin Toros.
Turkey has been in the midst of an increasing trend in meteorological disasters in recent years said the professor at the Meteorological Engineering Department of Istanbul Technical University (ITU).
“There’s a correlation between the increase in global warming and increase of extreme weather events in recent years,” he said, explaining that global warming was one of the various factors that affected meteorological events.
Owing to its geographical location, Turkey’s southern regions are marked by hot deserts, while the Siberian cold dominates in the northeast. To its west, the influence of the Atlantic Ocean an expansive source of water vapor also pumps energy in Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean coasts.
Since a partial drought last year, very good work has begun in Turkey to harvest and store rainwater, as well as to provide domestic water resources on-site, said Toros, in what he said was a great practice in socio-economic terms.
He highlighted that these practices were introduced after extensive media coverage of the dry season that increased public awareness of the issue.
“However, since our country is not rich in water, water resources must be used efficiently,” he warned, stressing that “no resources are unlimited.”
Including past climate data and future projections in the water usage plans would largely eliminate the risk of running out, reassured Toros.
“It may be necessary to have different scenarios for this. For example, [water] use can be planned depending on the amount of water in each region. In other words, our activities can be adapted to agriculture, industry, etc. annual water budgets.”
He underlined that efforts to increase public awareness and sensitivity on using resources efficiently and economically should continue.
“Efforts should continue at an accelerated pace to increase the share of renewable energy in energy resources. Studies that take all stakeholders, living or non-living, into account will reduce the negative effects of climate change.”