Sound and Dust Storm
The Sound and Dust storm (SDS) crisis creates a wider dimension in the Middle East every day and the solution to this crisis depends solely on national and international convergence. It is not only a problem for the people of the Middle East and the affected countries, but also a dangerous phenomenon which its consequences may be spread around the world.
What is dust storm?
A dust storm is formally defined by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) as the result of surface winds raising large quantities of dust into the air and reducing visibility at eye level (1.8 m)
To less than 1000 m, although severe events may result in zero visibility. A less severe wind erosion event is often referred to as blowing dust. There is no equivalent formal definition of sand storms, but storms dominated by sand tend to have limited areal extent and hence localized impacts, including sand dune encroachment.
Dust storms also have local impacts but their smaller particles can be transported much farther—over thousands of kilometers from source, often across international boundaries—which can bring hazardous dust haze to distant locations. The duration of SDS events varies from a few hours to several days.
Sound and dust storm effects
Over the last decade, scientists have come to realize the impacts on climate, human health, the environment and many socio-economic sectors.
Particles larger than 10 μm are not breathable, thus can only damage external organs – mostly causing skin and eye irritations, conjunctivitis and enhanced susceptibility to ocular infection. Inhalable particles, those smaller than 10 μm, often get trapped in the nose, mouth and upper respiratory tract, thus can be associated with respiratory disorders such as asthma, tracheitis, pneumonia, allergic rhinitis and silicosis.
Dust storms cause soil loss from the dry lands, and worse, they preferentially remove organic matter and the nutrient-rich lightest particles, thereby reducing agricultural productivity. Also the abrasive effect of the storm damages young crop plants. Dust storms also reduced visibility affecting aircraft and road transportation and cause severe erosion of buildings and industrial facilities.
Combatting the crisis
According to the Ministerial Declaration on Environment and Development for Asia and the Pacific, 2017 environmental issues should be addressed together with economic and social issues in an integrated and balanced manner by promoting and addressing interlink ages among the Sustainable Development Goals and Promoting regional efforts and cooperation to improve the environment, livelihood, health and well-being of people who live in areas affected by sand and dust storms.
Taking into account the resolution 72/7 of 19 May 2016 of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, regional and international efforts are the only way that countries can tackle the issue of dust storm.
In Iran, The International Conference on Combating Sand and Dust Storms was held in Tehran, from July 3 to 5, 2017, with the participation of forty-three countries, and its final statement referred to important points.
According to this statement, Sand and Dust Storms has been acknowledged to be posing a daunting challenge to the sustainable development of affected countries including and in particular in Asia and Africa and that coordinated prompt measures are needed to address it at national, regional and global levels. Sand and Dust Storms, which are on the rise in terms of severity and frequency in many parts of the world, are detrimental to human health, agricultural land, livelihoods, coastal and marine environment, infrastructure, and the socio-economic systems, in all affected countries.
The statement calls for global attention to the issue and acknowledges that Sand and Dust Storms occurs due to natural biogeochemical cycles of the Earth and human-induced factors, including climate change, and unsustainable land management and water use. the negative impacts of Sand and Dust Storms on some countries and regions that are far away from their hot spots, due to their trans-boundary nature.
The statement of Tehran recognizes the role that can be played by the Asian and Pacific Center for the Development of Disaster Information Management (APDIM), regional seas programs and SDS-WAS, to develop human and institutional capacity through strengthened regional cooperation in disaster information management.
This statement also invites the Environment Management Group (EMG) of the UN to consider initiating an inter-agency process involving relevant UN system warranting to prepare a global response to Sand and Dust Storms including a situation analysis, Strategy and an Action Plan. This could result in developing an UN-wide approach in addressing Sand and Dust Storms which can be used as an inter-agency framework for mid- or long-term cooperation and division of labor.
We believe that controlling and confronting the dust storm crisis is a time consuming process requiring comprehensive and macro planning. Dust storm has regional and global impacts on climate and environment so fighting the challenge requires concerted and collaborative global, regional and sub-regional as well as national responses to address this phenomenon and also underlining the role of United Nations in promoting international cooperation and partnerships among countries and other relevant stakeholders to combat Sand and Dust Storms.
Also, reaching a legal tool seems to be useful to counter environmental manipulation in the region. Moreover, considering the effects of this crisis on immigration the issue of SDS should be as of particular interest to the human rights council.