Staunton, August 22 – The impact of global warming on the Arctic and the way it is accelerating the melting of the permafrost level and thus threatening construction there not surprisingly have attracted the most attention in Moscow given Vladimir Putin’s focus on the Arctic. But climate change in the south must not be ignored, Anna Romanovskaya says.
That is because, the director of the Moscow Institute of Global Climate and Ecology says, the population there is greater and these are the regions that produce much of the country’s food. If as seems certain, water shortages increase, that will affect both residents and agricultural production (ria.ru/20210820/klimat-1746378472.html).
The region hit hardest so far, she continues, is Russian-occupied Crimea where agriculture is already suffering and both industry and the population are running short of water. But just behind the peninsula on these measures are the grain-producing regions of Stavropol Kray, Kursk Oblast and Voronezh Oblast.
These are now in the red zone as far as the impact of climate change is concerned, Romanovskaya says. Just beyond it are those in the orange. In it are Belgorod, Volgograd, Krasnodar, Rostov, Tambov, Bryansk, Ryazan, Moscow, Oryol, Kalmykia, Sevastopol, and the Adygey Republic.
There is much the government can do if it acts now, but if it waits until there is a crisis, the challenges may be too large. Consequently, Romanovskaya argues, the development of water-saving and water-sharing systems should be given priority and not ignored as the center focuses on the melting of the permafrost in the North.
Because Romanovskaya’s projections are based on changes over the next century, some experts are disputing her call. Among them is Natalya Zubarevich, a Moscow geographer, who says that no one can know what things will be like in a century and no one should make choices on the basis of projections of more than a decade ahead (svpressa.ru/society/article/307602/).
Most other Moscow experts who advise the Russian government appear to agree with Zubarevich, and they are likely to unless and until the droughts now hitting the Russian south become even more frequent, cutting into the production of food and sparking new population flows into cities.
Consequently, what might be addressed relatively easily now is likely to grow into a crisis beyond the capacity of the government to respond adequately, yet another result of the increasingly short-term calculations of the Putin government.