Mon 19 Dec 2011
Russia not only polluted the Soviet Union like Chernobyl in Ukraine and and other industrial sites, but they are doing a number on themselves as well. This AP article focuses on their problems with oil, but they have done a number on their part of the Arctic Seas. Their cities are toxic as all get out.
AP Enterprise: Russia oil spills wreak devastation
By NATALIYA VASILYEVA
The Associated Press
USINSK, Russia — On the bright yellow tundra outside this oil town near the Arctic Circle, a pitch-black pool of crude stretches toward the horizon. The source: a decommissioned well whose rusty screws ooze with oil, viscous like jam
This is the face of Russia’s oil country, a sprawling, inhospitable zone that experts say represents the world’s worst ecological oil catastrophe.
Environmentalists estimate at least 1 percent of Russia’s annual oil production, or 5 million tons, is spilled every year. That is equivalent to one Deepwater Horizon-scale leak about every two months. Crumbling infrastructure and a harsh climate combine to spell disaster in the world’s largest oil producer, responsible for 13 percent of global output.
This TED article lays out the total picture better.
TED Case Studies: Russia Air Pollution
1. The Issue
The extent of pollution and ecological collapse in Russia is due to decades of ill-considered military and industrial development undertaken in virtual secrecy and with scant concern for the environmental and health consequences. Environmental pollution clamps a stranglehold on the big cities in Russia. Pollution in Russia now threatens the health of millions of citizens and the safety of crops, water and air. In 84 of Russia’s largest cities the air pollution is ten times the accepted safety levels. In some areas, especially among children, levels of respiratory problems are 50 per cent higher than the national average. Moreover, Russia is a major contributor to global ozone depletion, being the World’s largest producers and consumers of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS). Thus, Russias emphasis on production at all costs has cost this country its environmental integrity.
In the former Soviet Union, the government promoted production at all costs for decades. The strategy for economic growth in the USSR was established in the first Five Year Plan of 1929, and remained fundamentally unchanged for the next 50 years. At the time of the 1917 revolution, and despite a drive for industrialization in the late 19th century, economic development in Russia had continued to lag well behind that of the major Europeans countries and the United Sates. By the late 1930s, following enormous losses incurred during World War I and the sub- sequent civil war, and part due to the perceptions of an increasing threat of further military conflict, the objective of catching up with the West became the dominant influence on economic policy. The relatively liberal New Economic Policy of 1921-28 had mixed results and was seen as inadequate to the task of achieving the desired þdash for growth.þ The new approach, centered of accelerated industrialization, required rapid mobilization of capital, labor and material inputs, with lesser emphasis being placed in their efficient use (so-called extensive development). The introduction of a full scale command economy-including nationalization of almost the entire capital stock and collectivization of agriculture-was seen as the only way to achieve these shifts in resources at the required pace.
As far as natural resources were concerned, there had been a tendency to exploit the more accessible reserves first. Cost of extraction and transportation therefore rose as production (of oil and gas in particular) was forced to shift from Europe and Central Asia to harsher and more remote regions in Siberia and the Far East. At the same time, the incentives for enterprise managers to innovate, increase efficiency or improve the quality of their output were inadequate or even perverse. The planning system motivated higher production primarily by imposing increasingly ambitious targets since it could not afford to allow temporarily lower output from one enterprise to jeopardize the input s to others. Thus the infrastructure and environment were further causalities of the preoccupation with growth and meeting the yearly plan objectives. Risks of environmental damage were not allowed to obstruct the resource requirements of rapid industrialization, and would eventually impose enormous costs on the Soviet economy.
Go there and read. More tomorrow.
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