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مکاتبات با ناسا در زمینه حذف نام خلیج ع.ر.ب.ی از نقشه‌های این سازمان

در روزهای پایانی ماه مارس سال ۲۰۱۱ و به هنگام کار بر روی نقشه‌های Terra و مرود نقشه‌های دورسنجی خاورمیانه که از طرف «رصدخانه زمین» که یک درگاه انتشاراتی متعلق به سازمان ناسا است، متوجه استفاده از نام خلیج عـ... در نقشه‌های این سازمان شدم. این در حالی بود که در گذشته نیز و به هنگام مرور تصاویر ماهواره‌ای این سازمان، به مورد مشابهی برخورد نکرده بودم و همیشه از نام صحیح و شناخته شده این آبراه بین‌المللی در تمام تصاویر ثبت شده استفاده شده بود. با این تصور که امکان بروز موارد مشابه نیز در آینده وجود داشته باشد و به نوعی این باور ایجاد شود که استفاده از یک نام جعلی می‌تواند جای خود را در نقشه‌های سازمان به راهتی باز کند، تصمیم به بررسی این موضوع گرفتم. در حین مکاتبات خود، در ابتدا به نوعی با این اعتراض من مخالف شد. اما در ادامه و با اصرار و توضیحات منطقی که ارائه دادم، موفق شدم تا نظر این سازمان را بر ممانعت از استفاده از یک نام جعلی درکنار نام خلیج فارس جلب کنم. در ادامه کل این داستان و شرح کامل مکاتبات خود را با درگاه رصدخانه زمین آورده‌ام.

کیان


NASA's Earth Observatory website recently has posted an article on "Arabian Sand Storm". Well, the article is highly interesting, depicting a huge fast-moving sand storm partially covering parts of the Arabian Peninsula, Persian Gulf, and the Iranian plateau.

Over the map, partly showing the Persian Gulf, a nonexistent name was shown parenthetically (here is an screenshot I saved). It was totally unclear to me as what was going on inside the Earth Observatory and how come they had made such a sudden change in their naming conventions. You you can recall, this had once happened with the "National Geographic", and now this time is was NASA who had distress its credibility. Such an incident had never been happened before among the previous articles illustrating the water body internationally known as the "Persian Gulf". [1][2][3]

According to the UN resolution, the name of the water body between the Iranian plateau and the Arabian peninsula is "Persian Gulf". Even though it has not found any acceptance outside the Arab community and is not recognised by the UN or any other international organizations, if there is any water body referred to as the "A-r-a-b-i-a-n Gulf", it should probably be the "Red Sea" (see this)

I have played my part by sending out an email explaining the situation for them, but one email changes nothing for sure. We need everyone to forward them an email making them purge the controversy.

Click on the image for a larger version
Here are the communications between me and the NASA Earth Observatory representative during the past few days. They are shown in the chronological order:

Sent: March 31, 2011 at 1:44 AM
To: Carlowicz, Michael J. (GSFC-613.0)[SIGMA SPACE CORPORATION]; Ward, Kevin A. (GSFC-613.2)[SIGMA SPACE CORPORATION]
Subject: EO Comment: Naming Controversy

Topic: ContentFeedback
Subject: Naming Controversy

Comment/Question:
Dear Earth Observatory Team,

Regarding your article on "Arabian Sand Storm", on the map showing the Persian Gulf, you have mentioned the name "Arabian" in the parentheses. That is while such an incident had never been happened before among the previous articles illustrating the water body as known by "Persian Gulf" worldwide.

According to the UN resolution, the name of the water body is "Persian Gulf", and "Arabian Gulf" not only is mostly referred to the "Red Sea", but the naming has not found any acceptance outside of the Arab world, and is not recognized by the United Nations or any other international organization.

Such controversial naming may distressed the NASA's Earth Observatory website creditability.

In this regard, it is highly appreciated if you may correct the map while in the body of the article you have used the correct "Persian Gulf" term.

Best Regards,

Kian A.Nezhadi, M. Eng.
________________________________________

On March 31, 2011 at 9:25 PM

Kian –

We don't make political statements with our naming conventions. We use the Times Atlas as our reference book (every publication relies on a few style or standards books). See http://www.timesatlas.com/Pages/default.aspx

When there is a location with more than one widely used name, we include both names, though we insert the preferred version first. You will see this with names such as Crete/Kriti or Burma/Myanmar, among others. It is the best we can do to address the fact that there are differences in the world about proper naming...a debate we'd rather not get into.

Thanks for your note,
Mike Carlowicz
Editor - NASA Earth Observatory - http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov
774-413-5168 (home office)  and  508-566-2620 (cell)
michael.j.carlowicz@nasa.gov
________________________________________

On April 1, 2011 at 4:00 PM

Team,

Your explanation was barely satisfying, but I appreciate your attention. I still don't get it. In fact, it is somehow confusing why you have suddenly decided to change your own previous naming approach in terming the regarding body of water.

I have been your reader for the past three years, and never had happened for a map or an article on your website to bear any other name but "Persian Gulf" for the regarding body of water. You may refer to the following links in this regard, while there are still much more if you refer to your own archive:
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=37632
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=38384
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=8500
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=49575
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=43030
So, in this case there are two scenarios going on within NASA, and more specifically your team.

The first scenario is that you have not been following any specific convention or standard until very recently, and then suddenly you have decided to get organized by following a source (Times Atlas) which refers to a body of water as "The Gulf" which is known as "Persian Gulf" by the UN as the biggest worldwide organization, and so many other authentic organizations. Everybody knows that it's a gulf and not a pool. It's just like calling the Pacific Ocean; The Ocean! The second scenario is that somebody whether Arabs or else have forced you to neglect the UN conventions by adopting what they mostly prefer to use in their own countries which is quite okay and out of objection.

Well, the first scenario is really irrational considering such a well-organized administration as NASA, but the second one although irrational as well (since it invalidates your independence which is not the case), but is more acceptable. If the case is you want to mention every name which is widely used to address a location, then I think you may face a real problem soon since there are thousands of locations worldwide which is called with different names, each by millions of people.

I know an email or two won't change anything in this regard, but at least it became quite evident for me and many others that the world is still not going towards the right direction.

Still I enjoy your posts, so then,
Good Job,

Kian A.Nezhadi, M. Eng.
________________________________________

On April 6, 2011 at 1:45 AM

Kian –

You made some good points, and have led us to take a fresh look at things. It seems that while we intended to closely follow a reference, being human we were uneven in our execution. We need to fix that, though I am not sure how it will turn out.

As for your insinuations about our politics -- I don't appreciate that at all. We have no interest in politics here. I am not interested in the quibbling over land and names for tribal or diplomatic reasons. I don't work in a political or diplomatic office, nor do I take directions from either. My/our only interest is in presenting names and information that are recognizable to the largest audience and as close to the truth as the facts will allow. We are human beings. We make errors. I suspect you do, too. So be careful about throwing stones.

Mike Carlowicz
Editor - NASA Earth Observatory - http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov
774-413-5168 (home office) and 508-566-2620 (cell)
michael.j.carlowicz@nasa.gov
________________________________________

On April 8, 2011 at 3:28 AM

Michael, 

Well, at least the good part is that you have considered the situation, and now are trying to fix it, rather than whitewashing the whole problem. I am really grateful for that. You have dismissed both scenarios I have proposed, and that was really a good news as well.

You are quite right; everyone makes mistakes, that's an integral part of our nature. I am not good at politics, nor do I have any interests in that. However, once I feel that it is trying to change even the most matured and perfect conventions and notions around me, I may turn into a perfect politician shielding those conventions. Those conventions say that politics should be kept away from everything or else it would become polluted with politics. That's what you were insisting on as well, Nice. 

So, I was not trying to insult you, that was just the same tactic – I just mentioned - I employed, cause that was the time when I had become disturbed watching a map bearing an unconventional name due to what I then believed to be political intrusion into what I mostly referred to for scientific purposes.

I don't know what terming approach you are going to take in the future regarding the body of water, but as least now it has become utterly clear that there are still people out there concerned with providing the best they can as you do, and I appreciate that.

Now, it seems that an email or two could indeed make some changes! In this regard, that would be great if you may keep me informed on whatever develops.

Kian A.Nezhadi, M. Eng.
________________________________________

On April 8, 2011 at 2:17 PM

Kian-

Thanks for your patience and for being a loyal reader. In the short term, I have asked staff to use Persian Gulf, not Arabian. We are also reconsidering which reference we rely upon.

Mike Carlowicz Editor - NASA Earth Observatory
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov
michael.j.carlowicz@nasa.gov