Can Istanbul be like Artvin?
What kind of a life we want and how we choose the city we live in are two very separate phenomena. Most people want to live in big cities because they believe the quality of life and probability of earning money is better in mega cities. However, the quality of life indices tell us otherwise in almost every study done.
According to the latest research by the World Health Organization, the only city in our country where the air quality is above minimum standards is Artvin, one of the least populated cities in the country. If we cared so much about healthy living and the quality of life as all of our Instagram accounts suggest, we should all be living in Artvin, but we are not.
Some of us think cities like Artvin are too small. For some of us, there are not enough movie theaters, not enough restaurants, not enough art galleries, etc. But we know our lifestyles are unsustainable as well. We all feel that city life has a toll on our minds and bodies. It has been scientifically proven that the quality of life affects our healthy immensely. We choose to live in cities for our social life even though we know it shortens our lifespan.
So, what can we do if we don’t want to move away from the cities we currently live in? The next best thing is to make the city we live in a bit more like Artvin. Another study tells us how we can do it.
The study entitled “Effects of forest areas on air quality: Aras Basin and its environment” by Metin Demir, Turgay Dindaroğlu, and Sevgi Yılmaz shows us the way. Their research includes cities in the Aras Basin. According to their findings, the air quality index (AQI) values were the lowest in the forest land, meaning that the region was the best in terms of health. If the AQI value increases, air pollution also increases.
The results indicated that the AQI ranged from one to four within the region. In the forest areas, the AQI values were the lowest. This indicated that the most suitable places for health are the places covered vastly by forests (76.50%, 66.46%, and 96.78%). There was no forest area within the region where the AQI values were the highest, so the risk was maximum, for the months. The authors concluded that “Authorities should create new afforestation areas and rehabilitate degraded forest lands to limit air pollution by increasing the quality of urban life.”
I want to rewrite this in bold and italic letters: “Authorities should create new afforestation areas and rehabilitate degraded forest lands to limit air pollution by increasing the quality of urban life.”
The answer is very simple. It is told by three researchers in one sentence. It is obvious the authorities should do everything in their power to create new forests right?
Then why do they do the opposite?
As a technology journalist, I do not accept the answer that technology is causing air pollution, it is us who cannot plan well enough. Why can we not plan to have a sophisticated city with good air?
Why can Istanbul not be more like Artvin when it comes to air quality?
I really urge authorities to think about these facts before embarking on crazy projects that would destroy more forests.