Environmental issues in Russia | Wikipedia audio article

Many of the issues have been attributed to
policies during the Soviet Union, a time when officials felt that pollution control was
an unnecessary hindrance to economic development and industrialization . As a result, 40% of
Russia’s territory began demonstrating symptoms of significant ecological stress by the 1990s,
largely due to a diverse number of environmental issues, including deforestation, energy irresponsibility,
pollution, and nuclear waste. According to Russia’s Ministry of Natural
Resources and Environment, Russia is currently warming 2.5 times faster than the rest of
the globe.==Wildlife==Russia has many protected areas, such as zapovedniks
and natural parks, which are made to preserve the natural state of environments. There are currently 101 zapovedniks that cover
a total of over 33.5 million hectares. However, some animals, such as the Amur tiger,
polar bear ,and Caucasian leopard, are facing extinction. The Russian government is attempting to revive
those populations. A tiger summit was held in St. Petersburg
in 2010 to discuss how to save the dwindling tiger population, which is threatened by deforestation
and poaching in Russia.==Deforestation and logging==Excessive logging is causing the widespread
deforestation of certain areas of Russia. Despite efforts of Russian authorities to
preserve forests using nature reserves and parks, funding for park rangers is lacking,
limiting the protection of forests. Illegal logging is also widespread, especially
in the north-west and in the Far East parts of Russia. It is estimated that Russia loses $1 billion
every year due to illegal logging. According to the Center for Russian Environmental
Policy, 16 million hectares of forest are lost each year to a variety of causes, including
logging, pollution, and fires. Inefficient logging and clearcutting strategies
result in 40% of harvested trees never being used, and the implementation of forest protection
policies has been slow.==Energy==Inefficient energy usage and the use of fossil
fuels is another environmental issue that Russia faces. The Ministry of Energy stated that upgrading
energy sector equipment could cut carbon emissions by 25%, and the Energy Research Institute
predicts that such measures could save up to $1 billion of fuel every year. 68% of Russia’s energy is produced by polluting
fossil fuels, and it is a large producer of those fuels.===Nuclear energy===Nuclear energy is widely used in Russia, and
there are currently 31 operating nuclear reactors. However, several of these, such as the one
at the Kola NPP, are past their lifespan and have a higher probability of nuclear accidents. Instead of being decommissioned, they are
still being used. The disposal of nuclear waste is also an issue,
due to a lack of funding. Unsafe dumping methods are sometimes used
to get rid of nuclear waste, which was dumped into the Sea of Japan until 1993. The Commission of Ecological Security, founded
in 1994, helped bring the dumping of nuclear waste into the ocean to the public’s attention. It is estimated that bringing nuclear safety
levels to official standards would cost $26 billion.The testing and production of nuclear
weapons also affected the environment, such as at the Mayak atomic weapons production
plant near Chelyabinsk.==Pollution=====Water pollution===Water pollution is a serious problem in Russia,
and 75% of surface water, and 50% of all water in Russia is now polluted. This has caused health issues in many cities
as well as in the countryside, as only 8% of wastewater is fully treated before being
returned to waterways. Obsolete and inefficient water treatment facilities,
as well as a lack of funding, have caused heavy pollution, and has also resulted in
waterborne disease spread, such as an outbreak of cholera spread by the Moskva River in 1995. Industrial and chemical waste is often dumped
into waterways, including hydrogen sulfide, which has been linked to the large-scale death
of fish in the Black and Caspian seas. Lake Baikal was previously a target of environmental
pollution from paper plants, but cleanup efforts since then have greatly reduced the ecological
strain on the lake.===Air pollution===
Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Volgograd, as well as other major industrial
and population centers, have the highest concentrations of air pollution. Overall, over 200 cities in Russia exceed
pollution limits, and this is increasing as more vehicles appear on the roads. Before the 1990s, most air pollution came
from industries. When industrial production declined, emissions
of air pollutants from those sources also declined, although the amount of motor vehicles
on the roads skyrocketed. Currently, vehicle emissions exceed industry
emissions in most Russian cities. Air pollution is attributed to 17% of childhood
and 10% of adult diseases, as well as 41% of respiratory and 16% of endocrine diseases.===Other forms of pollution=====Soil erosion==
Snow run-off has caused substantial erosion in pastures and croplands in northern Russia,
particularly near the Ural Mountains. In parts of southern Russia, overgrazing and
deforestation has resulted in large plots of bare soil which are highly susceptible
to wind erosion.==See also==Environment of Russia
Energy policy of Russia Renewable energy in Russia
Climate change in Russia Environmental issues in Lake Baikal
Pollution in the Gulf of Finland

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