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Armenia is a country situated in southern Transcaucasia somewhere between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. It Is bordered by Georgia in the north, Azerbaijan on the east, on the south by the republic of Iran and by Turkey on the west. Armenia over millions of years has been prone to earthquakes due to the geological activities in the region. A highly mountainous country, travelling through Armenia could be tricky, actually almost half of the whole country's area is elevated at 200meters above sea level.
The effects of the environmental issues affecting Armenia that mainly emanated from industrialization has created many challenges to Armenia with regard to the conservation of nature and its resources. Armenia environmental campaign faces both opposition and support in that some people take the economic approach by seeing the pollution prone industrialization as a way to improve economy of the country that can later be used to combat the effects caused by it. The green approach is that of completely doing away with activities that impact on the environment negatively. This has divided these two sides sharply into no progress at all for the conservation efforts.
Though it was there, public concern for environment began in 1980s when environmental advocates who were known as green groups rolled out opposition Erevan's industrial pollution in the country and nuclear power generation especially after the Chernobyl explosion that caused insurmountable effects on the environment. These green groups were mainly civil society groups who later on initiated the independence movement after they worked in tandem with their political counterparts. With the evidence of how detrimental pollution could be to the health of the people, the green movements had a basis to launch a strong campaign to force the government to shut down some of the industries who were not following the regulations. It was successful but it was to return and haunt the country decades later in form of economic woes.
Presently on environment in Armenia
In a country that is facing stiff economic challenges, environment is expected to take a back seat especially when it stands in the way of economic development. This has been the case in Armenia currently as the proponents of regardless economic growth blame the government for closing down major industries that were detrimental in environmental conservation. The old problems of pollution continue to plague the country which is facing a hard time choosing between economic growth and environmental protection. Though the environmentalists in Armenia are doing their best in advocacy for conservation, it is evident that a bit more has to be done f the status quo were to change. With recent blockade of power in Armenia meant that residents lacked source of heat and this resulted in the cutting of trees as a way of in order to cater for fuel. At the same time, Armenia is currently working on means of addressing issues of air and soil pollution as well as the management of solid wastes in the light of globalization of several economic spheres.
Challenges facing Armenia Environmentally
The most basic problem facing Armenia with regards to environment is lack of political will to conserve it. This can be seen in different entities in the country, for example, there is no environmental education in Armenian schools thus Armenia the vicious cycle of environmental decadence prevails. The national curriculum has no environmental education, grave a matter as it is. All environment gets is the multidisciplinary approach to environmental education where it depends on other subjects to get a mention. Education provides the basis of future actions hence without it the future of Armenia environmentally is doomed
Other challenges Armenia has encountered have spiraled up the levels of environmental degradation and Armenia's inability to tackle the challenges as they come. Armenia has for a number of years experienced a decline in the forest cover especially in areas that were heavily forested. The demand of fuel for use at home and Industries in Armenia has fueled the increased demand for other alternatives of power such as wood. This consequently led to increased demand for wood from trees since they were readily available. This has made it difficult to protect and sustain the natural environment such as forest in Armenia. Additionally, due to increased demand for food from agriculture, much the forested areas have been cleared to pave way for the establishment of farms and pasture for livestock.
The rapid industrial development in Armenia has resulted in devastating levels of pollutants that have affected water, soil and air. These pollutants are emitted from industries that are located in Armenia and are central in the growth of Armenia's economy. While these industries have been regarded as the economic power house and regarded as crucial for the economic development of Armenia, their operations have caused untold effect to the environment. For instance, industries situated along water bodies like rivers have been known to release untreated chemical effluents which have led to the pollution of soil with dangerous chemicals such as DDT which has affected productive soil meant for agriculture as well as led to the death of vegetation.
On the other hand, air pollution from industries has led to the growth of challenges on the conservation of the environment. In addition to industries, the large number of trees being felled in winter and burned for fuel has also contributed to the rise of air pollution and this has increased the levels of carbon emissions. Official figures have it that Armenia has only 9% forest cover, a figure that is too low for a mountainous country like Armenia. This situation has been worsened by the large number of motor vehicles that emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The effects of pollution are always felt by the decrease of visibility in areas such as towns and cities not to mention the numerous health effects on children and pregnant women who are the most vulnerable.
Water pollution in Armenia is widely considered to have caused a major hurdle for the country's economic development. The chief cause of this pollution has been the oil refineries, metallurgical and chemical industries which have remained inefficient in properly disposing discharge of effluents as they were during the soviet era. These industries have made it difficult for the environmentalists to make any development in the fight against unsustainable development. Armenia relies for them for the production of goods both for local consumptions and export to the global market hence proving hard to do away with them. Although it is possible that they can adopt some sustainable production methods, it comes at a high cost that the country does not have. This has caused damage in the Caspian Sea and areas of the Baku bay in terms of pollution through the disposal of sewage that the industries do not treat.
Decline in water levels in the Lake Sevan's has been experienced in Armenia and this is because of the destruction of the forest cover that act as water catchment. The decrease in water level has also been as a result of increased usage of water for irrigation in the farms as well the diversion of water from rivers for use in the hydroelectric plants. The reduction in water levels poses an eminent danger to the flora and fauna that rely on such water bodies. This issue is a challenge since its curb is likely to affect other sectors of the economy such as the generation of electric power and agricultural output of Armenia.
Despite the environmental effects affecting Armenia, some opportunities are there to utilize in efforts of reducing environmental immpact and combating the effects while at the same time supporting its push for globalization agenda. Icon Group International believe that Armenia's economic condition have improved with the stabilization of the economy as well as increase in power production. There is also potential for a country like Armenia to tap the more sustainable sources of energy such as solar and wind energy to lessen the pressure on these known sources as nuclear power whose production is at high cost and at a greater health risk. These recent developments present new opportunities that lessen the effect on the environment as well as grant openings for the use of alternatives sources of power such as nuclear power.
The formation of global treaties in regard to the conservation of the environment presents immense openings which are likely to improve Armenia's response to environmental challenges. With Armenia joining a number of international pacts that bind members to embrace means and ways of improving the environment by conservation, this opportunity presents Armenia with a chance of interacting and learning from other more experienced nation in dealing with these issues of environment and duplicating the ideas back home.
Globalization has come to Armenia with the introduction of new technologies and production techniques that have negative impacts on the environment. These ways tough have not only transformed operations in the industries but have also improved the importation of equipment and motor vehicles that are compliant with environmental regulations. The bigger problem here is the electronic waste being dumped in the country in form of cars, machines etc from developed countries. This is a very grave environmental issue especially knowing that the import of these machines have increased whereas the disposal has remained constant. The growth of activism towards the reduction of environmental impact can also be attributed to effect of globalization with new ideas being spread from one region to another. This effect has motivated the establishment of several legislations in Armenia directed at cutting down on environmental impact. Due to such laws, some areas have being reserved for wildlife through the restriction of human encroachment.
Since the emergence of industrialization in Armenia, Environmental issues have continued to plague the country especially because many environmental problems originated from industrialization. Issues such as pollution decrease in forest cover and decline of water levels has continued to be Armenia big environmental problems to deal with in her efforts to achieve sustainable development. The road to recovery is not out of reach though, but more needs to be done such as sound environmental legislations that will not only be formulated but enacted strictly by the authorities involved. The idea of Environmental Impact Assessment is very important in ensuring that all the companies, development agencies or any other entity undertaking development follows the regulations that will not affect the environment much more than it will benefit it.
If nothing is done now, the environmental effects Armenia is facing will reach an irreversible point that will mean that many more entities will be affected such as the economy, health of the country, human resource development, labor etc. This is because of the increasing influence of globalization of Armenia especially the impact of the first world countries. The second-tier imports from developed countries in for of electronic wastes, substandard products and most of all the emission of carbon into the air by nations such as USA and China will in the end be Armenia and other countries that do not have measures to combat these effects. With the global concern increasing, we are likely to witness improvement in environmental advocacy in Armenia to pressurize the government to take actions in controlling the pollution and championing for environmental protection for safeguard its globalization agenda such as trade.