Staunton, September 6 – A new report on the environment by Russia’s natural resources ministry warns that the country faces “a climate apocalypse” because global warming, caused by the release of greenhouse gases, is hitting that country far harder than any other on the planet and is already having serious negative consequences for the economy and the population.
As described by Kommersant, the report says that there has already been an increase in the number of storms, fires, droughts, and flooding in various parts of the country. These are not only leading more deaths and disease but threatening facilities like power plants, highways and railroads (kommersant.ru/doc/3732772).
Independent experts with whom the paper spoke suggest that the ministry may be overstating things but not by much because it wants to position itself as the institution with the powers to respond to these challenges. But other observers and activists suggest that Moscow does not appear ready to do more than talk about these challenges.
The report points out that one of the most difficult problems is that this “apocalypse” looks different in different parts of the country. In many places, things are warming up, melting the permafrost in the north and raising the sea level of the Caspian in the south; but in others, there has been cooling which requires entirely different policies.
Not surprisingly, it devotes particular attention to the melting of the permafrost which, the report specifies, is leading to “the destruction of burial sites of dangerous chemical, biological and radioactive materials.” But it also focuses on the damage climate change is inflicting on transportation links, increasing accidents and isolating particular regions.
Climate change is already affecting the health of the population, the report says, especially in the central and southern portions of the country, where mortality rates are going up, especially among older people, and where droughts are leading to a decline in food production and even threatening famine in the future.
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