03-14 12:38:20 瀏覽次數: 560
A new catastrophe faces Afghanistan. The American bombing campaign is conspiring with years of civil conflict and drought to create an environmental crisis.
Humanitarian and political concerns are dominating the headlines. But they are also masking the disappearance of the country's once rich habitat and wildlife, which are quietly being crushed by war. The UN is dispatching a team of investigators to the region next month to evaluate the damage. “A health environment is a prerequisite for rehabilitation,” says Klaus Topfer, head of the UN environment Programme.
Much of south-east Afghanistan was once lush forest watered by monsoon rains. Forests now cover less than 2 per cent of the country. “The worst deforestation occurred during Talibab rule, when its timber mafia denuded forests to sell to Pakistani markets,” says Usman Qazi, an environmental consultant based in Quetta, Pakistan. And the intense bombing intended to flush out the last of the Taliban troops is destroying or burning much of what remains.
The refugee crisis is also wrecking the environment, and much damage may be irreversible. Forests and vegetation are being cleared for much-needed farming, but the gains are likely to be only short-term. “Eventually the land will be unfit for even the most basic form of agriculture,” warns hammad Naqi of the World Wide Fund for Nature in Pakistan. Refugees—around 4 million as the last count—are also cutting into forests for firewood.
The hail of bombs falling on Afghanistan is making life particularly hard for the country's wildlife. Birds such as the pelican and endangered Siberian crane cross eastern Afghanistan as they follow one of the world's great migratory thoroughfares from Siberia to Pakistan and India. But the number of the birds flying across the region has dropped by a staggering 85 per cent. “Cranes are very sensitive and they do not use the route if they see any danger,” says Ashiq Ahgmad, an environmental scientist for the WWF in Peshawar, Pakistan, who has tracked the collapse of the birds migration this winter.
The rugged mountains also usually provide a safe have for mountain leopards, gazelles, bears and Marco Polo sheep—the world's largest species. “The same terrain that allows fighters to strike and disappear back into the hills has also historically enabled wild life to survive,” says Peter Zahler of the Wildlife Conservation society, based in New York. But he warns they are now under intense pressure from the bombing and invasions of refugees and fighters.
For instance, some refugees are hunting rare snow leopards to buy a safe passage across the border. A single fur can fetch $2,000 on the black market, says Zahler. Only 5,000 or so snow leopards are thought to survive in central Asia, and less than 100 in Afghanistan, their numbers already decimated by extensive hunting and smuggling into Pakistan before the conflict. Timber, falcons and medicinal plants are also being smuggled across the border. The Talibab once controlled much of this trade, but the recent power vacuum could exacerbate the problem.
Bombing will also leave its mark beyond the obvious craters. Defence analysts says that while depleted uranium has been used less in Afghanistan that in the Kosovo conflict, conventional explosives will litter the country with pollutants. They contain toxic compounds such as cyclonite, a carcinogen, and rocket propellants contain perchlorates, which damage thyroid glands.
1. All of the following are causes of the environmental crisis in Afghanistan EXCEPT
A. American bombing.
B. heavy monsoon rains.
C. years of lack of rain.
D. fighting among the Afghanis.
2. According to the passage, the main cause of the loss of the country's forests is
A. the flooding caused by the monsoon rain.
B. the intense bombing of the Taliban troops.
C. the improper use of the trees for benefits during Taliban rule.
D. the fire set to burn the forests by the Taliban troops.
3. Most of the migratory bird no longer fly across Afghanistan to Pakistan and India because
A. they change their route from time to time.
B. some birds have collapsed while flying.
C. they have been threatened by the bombs dropped on the country.
D. they are scared by the big animals in the mountains.
4. In which of the following ways do the refugees threaten the survival of such wild animals as the snow leopards?
A. They hunt the animals for food.
B. They fight in the rugged mountains that provide a haven for the animals.
C. They hunt the animals to make profits.
D. They drive the animals away from their homes in the mountains.
5. Which of the following CANNOT be inferred from the last paragraph?
A. Depleted uranium is not a kind of conventional explosives.
B. Craters are not the only damage done by bombs.
C. The conventional bombs are no less damaging to environment than the non-conventional ones.
D. Fewer people were killed in bombing in Afghanistan than in Kosovo.