USSR was worse than West • 2.5 X air pollution of U.S. (per GNP) • 20% water unsafe • 1/3 of arable land affected by acid rain • Etc., etc.
Why USSR was worse • Heavy industry • Expand agriculture • “Inexhaustible” resources • Legitimacy, self-sufficiency through technology • Sacrifice for defense
Why USSR was worse • Leadership technicians; questioning prevented • Little free opposition • Secrecy; lack of enforcement • Central planning insensitive • Only capitalism harms nature
Aral Sea • Once the 4th largest inland body of water in the world. A series of dams was built to irrigate cotton. • Aral Sea reduced to about 25% of its 1960 volume, 4x salinity wiped out the fishery. • Pollutants became airborne as dust, causing significant local health problems.
Interbasin water transfers (river diversions) Aral Sea Kara Kum Canal Amu Darya Size of Aral Sea Environmental damage estimated at $1.25 -$2.5 billion a year.
Caspian Sea Western, Russian oil and gas Companies in Caspian Basin
Caspian Sea Caspian Seal in Kazakstan Caspian sturgeon and its caviar Oil spill off Baku, Azerbaijan
Dnieper R. Don R. BLACK SEA Ukraine Sea ofAzov Russia Dniester R. Moldova Crimea Georgia Danube R. Romania Bulg. Bosporus Turkey
Sea of Azov Eutrophication (Algae growth) Metals plant on Dnieper River
Lake Baikal Environmental objections to paper mills as early as 1960s
Cyanide disasterAustralian-owned goldmine in Romania, 2000 80% of fish in Tisza River / wetlands died, spill to Danube
Gabcikovo Dams,Slovakia Conflict, protests between Slovakia and Hungary over diversion of Danube River
AIR & LAND Kola Peninsula, NW Russia
BlackTriangle GDR POLAND Devastation from acid rain, SO2, toxics CZECHOSLOVAKIA
Donbass & Kuzbass Donbass coal fields, E. Ukraine Kuzbass coal fields, W. Siberia
Kalmykia European Buddhist Mongols Desertification Chemicals/ Salinization Oil development
Sakha(Yakutia) • Siberian indigenous • Coal, metals mining • Logging
Clear-cutting in Siberia Japanese and South Korean companies take advantage of “fire sale” International campaign to protect Amur Tiger along Chinese border
WAR Kola Peninsula Acid rain, Mining, Nuclear subs scuttled
Toxic military bases Abandoned Soviet military bases in Eastern Europe have toxic wastes (like U.S. bases elsewhere.)
Sverdlovsk anthrax, 1979 Bioweapons disaster, 79 cases (66 dead) in Yeltsin’s district
Bombing civilian chemical plants Toxic cloud after NATO bombing of Pancevo plant in Yugoslavia, 1999
Uranium mining Roma (Gypsy) kids playing on radioactive mill tailings from Soviet uranium mine in Pécs, Hungary
Soviet nuclear testsin Kazakstan Genetic defects near Semey (Semipalatinsk) Kazaks protest
Kyshtym waste disaster, 1957 • Explosion at Soviet weapons factory forces evacuation of over 10,000 people in Ural Mts. • Area size of Rhode Island still uninhabited; thousands of cancers reported Orphans
NUCLEARPOWER Chernobyl disaster, April 1986
“It Can’t Happen Here” • U.S. reaction to Chernobyl, 1986 • Blamed on Communism, graphite reactor • Also Soviet reaction to Three-Mile Island, 1979 • Blamed on Capitalism, pressurized-water reactor • No technology 100% safe • Three-Mile Island bubble almost burst
8,000 deaths in 14 years 3.5 million sick, one/third of them children
Chernobyl’s political fallout • Secrecy stimulated glasnost, environmental opposition • Stimulated nationalism in Ukraine, Belarus, other republics that lost clean-up workers. • Questioning of the heart of technocratic power • USSR collapsed within 5 years.
Positives since end of USSR • Democratization: NGOs, data • Decentralization: local sensitivity • Deindustrialization of old areas • Expanded national parks • Protection laws stronger by 1993
Negatives since end of USSR • Financial difficulties; jobs stressed • Reduced monitoring, enforcement • Increased affluence, cars, waste • Profit motive; foreign firms • Putin dismantled agency, 2002
Other positives in Eastern Europe • Ecological dissidents in transition • Increased spending • Pollution control technology • Loss of markets • Entry into E.U. standards