Due to its geography, Iran has several climatic zones in which the climatic conditions sometimes differ greatly. These climatic zones also determine the flora and fauna of the country. Its borders run primarily along the two large mountain ranges, the Zagros (from northwest to southeast, roughly parallel to the Iraqi border) and the Alborz (from west to east, roughly parallel to the coast of the Caspian Sea).
The central Iranian highlands are extremely dry and are dominated by the two deserts Dascht -e Kavir and Dascht-e Lut. The climate here is arid. The summers are long and relatively warm, while in winter it can also snow. On the edges of this highlands, where many of Iran’s large cities are located, however, there is extensive rainfall. Thanks to the high altitude of the peripheral areas, for example, in Tehran, which is an average of 1,600 meters, it does not often get uncomfortably hot even in summer, the annual average temperature is 18 °C.
According to ehealthfacts, the southwest of Iran lies in the Tigris basin. Due to the proximity to the Iraqi desert, temperatures of up to 50 °C are not uncommon here, in winter the temperatures almost always stay above freezing point. The same applies to the coasts of the Persian Gulf. The city of Bandar-e Abbas, for example, has an average temperature of 29.6 °C.
In the north of the country, in the thin coastal strip between the Caspian Sea and the Alborz Mountains, on the other hand, there are partially subtropical climates. Since the humid sea air sticks to the mountain edges, precipitation amounts of up to 2000 mm are possible. The mountain slopes were overgrown by dense forests until recently, but have now been severely cut down, especially through illegal clearing.
Iran has large amounts of oil and gas. The exact extent of the occurrence can at best still be estimated, but can be counted among the largest in the world. In addition, iron ore, coal, magnesium, gypsum, copper and lead are mined. Another raw material that is also important for the Iranian state is uranium ore, which occurs in large quantities in Iran and has been mined since the 1990’s.
As in other emerging countries, climate protection does not have a high priority in Iran, and most Iranians are not overly aware of the environment. This leads to a multitude of ecological problems in the continuously growing society of a country whose economy is based to a large extent on the extraction of fossil fuels.
One of the main problems is the nature of the soil and its use. As in ancient times, most forests in the country of the region have been cut down, the thin topsoil in many places long since disappeared, so that today 53% of desert areas exist in which no agriculture is possible. In addition, many areas are additionally polluted by overgrazing. The population of Iran, which grew explosively in the 20th century, continues to overuse its natural resources and also constantly produces more waste.
An ecological problem that is now well known, but is becoming increasingly worse due to climate change, is water scarcity. Although it is now recognized by the state, it remains acute in many places. Moorlands as well as rivers and lakes are increasingly drying up. This problem is largely homemade through artificial changes in river courses and dam construction. In addition, underground water reservoirs are still being tapped, so that especially in the cities, and especially in Tehran, the ground is sinking and sinkholes occur again and again in the middle of the city. In times of heavy rain, changes in natural rivers can also increase the risk of flooding.
In addition, the ecological consequences of oil production are sometimes serious. Due to the international sanctions, it was hardly possible for Iran to modernize its infrastructure in this area in the last few decades. Most of the conveyor systems and refineries that the USA supplied to the last Shah in the 1970’s are still in operation today. The fact that these cannot compete with state-of-the-art systems in terms of efficiency or environmental compatibility leads to immense pollution, especially in the oil-rich provinces in the south-west of the country.
A big problem in Iranian cities, which is likely to get worse, is air pollution which is caused to a large extent by road traffic. Because of the continued tense economic situation, and since the Iranian automotive industry has also been affected by international sanctions in recent years, the Peykan is still often to be found on the streets of Iran, a lower middle class car that has been manufactured according to an English model since 1967. Thanks to its robust and simple construction, it can be driven for decades, but the oldest models should now consume as much oil as gasoline. Above all, he is responsible for the air pollution that is sometimes hazardous to health in major Iranian cities, above all in Tehran.
In the 1990’s in particular, efforts intensified to remedy these problems. Among other things, reforestation projects should limit the overexploitation of vegetation. Driving bans, the modernization of the auto industry and an expansion of the Tehran subway should help to counteract the traffic infarction and reduce air pollution. However, the vigor of later governments is noticeably flagged in many of these areas, even if the expansion of the Tehran subway has continued to advance.