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March 29, 2023

Pollution attacks through human errors

A new international survey warns about the increasingly high danger that threatens our planet, represented by the pollution of the air, water, land. The risks are multiple, from climate change that is favourable to desertification to the poisoning of the entire environment that results in the collapse of the general health state and sharpens zonal contradictions as the Earth’s population nears the 7 billion mark. The risk of the tragedy is even higher as it is caused mostly by polluting factors that pertain to the big economic and military powers of the world, which do not accept measures meant to limit their polluting activities. We are thus witnessing a dictatorship of polluters, for whom the fundamental rules of democracy and international collaboration are accepted exclusively when they serve their interests.
The 90 industrial companies belonging to the big global powers cause over 63 pc of global pollution. Their emissions of carbon and other polluting substances intensify permanently, so that half of the present pollution was generated during the last 25 years.
The environment has become today the mirror of the inability of states to respect themselves and each other, to harmonise their interests based on principles unanimously accepted… in theory. Furthermore, the international environmental blackmail tends to equal, as a planetary peril, the energy and military blackmail. Even within the EU, some of the most industrially developed states covertly oppose the possible efforts of industrialising some of the countries considered as “preponderantly agricultural.” By this method of stopping their industry, these “preponderantly agricultural” states are compelled to make industrial imports at excessive costs and to export their agricultural products at derisory prices.
Romania unfortunately ranges in this category of “preponderantly agricultural” countries. Our industrial enterprises, built with much sacrifice after WW II, along with those founded one century ago, have been annihilated after 1990 through fraudulent auctions and theft, under fake slogans like “polluting and obsolete industry.” Our political rulers chose – and still choose – to remain passive, without reaction in the international institutions. Why? Because they are the same who can be seen in debates on TV, when they accuse each other only to eventually accept – all of them – the anti-Romanian decisions made by the European Parliament or even by the Romanian legislative.
The duplicity of our leading politicians brought Romania to the central point of contradictions caused by the big mistakes made also in the not so recent past. Agriculture and forestry, as Romania’s major economic branches, were subjected to much pressure, for many decades. The two agrarian reforms of 1920 and 1945 are recognised as positive developments in social terms, but not so much with regard to the environment. Unfortunately, after WW II the rulers ignored the environmental impact of the measures adjacent to the agrarian reform and failed to counter the effects of the destruction of the protective vegetation, when they divided the land into small plots granted to peasants.
Only in the late ‘70s of the last century, when draught became a serious problem, the idea of protective tree curtains has returned to actuality, but soon enough it was replaced by building an extensive system of irrigations. In 1988, this system had reached coverage of 3.5 million hectares of farmland, being considered as the second-largest of its kind in Europe. But, just two years later, it was completely destroyed, also because of the errors committed by the government. The restitution of agricultural properties and forests by rejecting the principles of modern, cooperative farming, which had been enforced by all the other socialist countries, sacrificed both environment and economic principles.
Even more painful were the effects of this sacrifice in the forest sector. The retrocession of forested lands nationalised in 1948 was justified through the principles of the rule of law. But this rule of law demanded that the more than 2 million hectares of forest that were returned to their previous owners remain under the strict surveillance of forest authorities, so they can be used to the best interest of owners, while also protecting the environment. Instead, they were removed from under the authority of the state and the majority of these areas were deforested and robbed. This intense theft of raw wood, left unpunished, explains the fact that wood exports have represented Romania’s main export for many years.
Experts believe that, if exploited judiciously, these over 2 million hectares of forest would have brought to the country an income exceeding EUR 15 bln, with the wood being processed at home instead of being exported in raw state. But could even these EUR 15 bln justify the environmental and weather disaster caused by the cutting of these forests? Certainly not! Because the climate consequences of this theft amplify in the context of increasing global pollution and cause the loss of innumerable human lives each day, along with other damages that cannot be compensated by the “benefits” of raw wood exports. Even politicians agree with these common-sense conclusions. But, as usually, they resort to all kind of subterfuges meant to satisfy their fiery lust for getting rich. This way, the old Forest Code reached the situation of supporting the deforestation process, rather than promoting the planting of trees.
From this point of view, putting the new Forest Code on debate was a welcome move. Its provisions against pollution, with emphasis on reforestation, are stricter and much more precise than those in effect now. Sanctions, too, will be harshened and will depend on the volume and quality of the destroyed forest. And the new Code will turn into a criminal offence the cutting of even less than one cubic metre of wood, instead of a minimum limit of 5 cu m, like today.
But all these provisions lose their significance by the simple fact that the approval by the Parliament of this fundamental act is delayed from one phase to the other. During all this confusion and uncertainty, the forest disaster amplifies in geometric proportion. Deforestation also threatens the mountains, hills and valleys, the frequency of catastrophic floods increases, storms, hail and gusty wind ravage localities, while draught removes from the productive circuit thousands of hectares of farmland. All these phenomena cause intense human suffering.

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