The Ides of Marsh
Verdant marshes and wetlands were much of what helped put the “fertile” in the Fertile Crescent, that swath of land between the Tigris and Euphrates that is considered the birthplace of Western civilization. But in the last few decades, those marshes have been all but destroyed by dam-building and civil strife in Iraq. Those marshes that do remain could disappear in as few as three years — but don’t give up all hope yet, as the marshes have become something of a cause celebre for wetlands-protections advocates. The U.N. Environment Programme lists the collapse of Iraq’s marshes as a catastrophe on the scale of the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, and is determined to do something about it. UNEP’s post-conflict assessment team hopes to begin work on restoring the marshes as soon as the war ends, and a different team of international environmentalists plans to launch a restoration project dubbed Eden Again.