2020-10-14 16:05

A Toxic Tide Has Lessons For Moscow 63V世界播



(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Last month, surfers on Russia’sKamchatka peninsula began to complain of eye pain and corneal burns. Some fell ill. Dead octopus, star fish and sea urchins began towash upon the beach.Yellow foam was visible from space. 63V世界播


Local officials have reacted with unusualtransparency to the environmental disaster. It still took too long for wide-ranging investigationsto get underway. In a country vulnerable to the consequences of global warming by virtue of its frozen expanses and coastlines, better oversight issorely overdue. 63V世界播


For Russia, 2020 has been a year of climate warnings. Melting permafrost in the Arctichelped trigger a fuel-tank leak that released 20,000 tons of diesel into rivers and soilin late May, prompting comparisons with the1989 ExxonValdez oilspill. By July, Siberianfireshad engulfed an area larger than Greece. 63V世界播


The mysteriousdeath of marine life in Russia’s sparsely populatedeastern limb may seem smaller in scalebut is no less dire.Scientists saythe pollution has killed95% of life on thesea floor in one bay. The 40-kilometer (25-mile)slick is now heading south, towardsJapan. 63V世界播


In Moscow, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Dmitry Kobylkinplayeddownthe incident:It was no catastrophe, he said, asno one was hurt. Astorm was blamed.Kamchatka’s governor, Vladimir Solodov, has done considerably better.His administration hasbrought inresearchersand environmental groups, andlast week pledged topublish the results of all analysesas it works to figure out the exact source of the problem. He provides updates on social media. 63V世界播

在莫斯科,自然资源和环境部长德米特里·科比尔金(Dmitry Kobylkin)淡化了这一事件:他说,这不是灾难,因为没有人受伤。人们指责这是一场暴风雨。堪察加省长弗拉基米尔·索洛多夫(Vladimir Solodov)做得要好得多。他的政府已经请来了一些研究人员和环保组织,并于上周承诺,在努力找出问题的确切根源时,将不会公布所有分析的结果。他在社交媒体上提供最新消息。63V世界播

Better yet, Solodov vowed to clean up a troubledlandfill for pesticides that was initially seen as a potential culprit, even asscientistsbegan instead to suspecta harmful algal bloom — whennaturally occurringalgae grow out of control and produce toxins damaging towildlife, a phenomenon increasingly common as sea waters warm. 63V世界播


A strong reaction, and indeed openness, are helpful signals, asRussia grapples with environmental challenges fromrecord Arctic temperatures to the problematic legacy of Soviet-era environmental degradation. Earlier this year,the country’s environmental watchdog levied a near-$2 billion fine onminer MMC Norilsk Nickel PJSC over the diesel spill, a figurethe company disputes. 63V世界播

强烈的反应,甚至是开放,都是有益的信号,因为俄罗斯正在努力应对环境挑战,从创纪录的北极气温到苏联时代环境退化的问题遗产。今年早些时候,该国环境监管机构因柴油泄漏事件对矿商MMC Norilsk Nickel PJSC处以近20亿美元的罚款,该公司对这一数字存在争议。63V世界播

Prevention is needed too,though, and improved controlswould be a start. Currently, that responsibility isspread across multiple authorities. In the case of the Arctic leak, local officialssaid they found out about itfromsocial media posts, prompting a rebuke fromPutin; Nornickel has deniedholding back information. In the FarEast,surfers raised the alarm. 63V世界播


The exact cause of the Kamchatka disaster hasyet to be firmly established. It is already clear, though, that supervision was insufficient. Even if neither a pesticide dump nor rocket fuel stored in nearby military installationswere to blame, no one was able to swiftly say so for certain. And there are plenty of other such ageingstockpilesscattered along Russia’sdistant eastern and northern reaches. As with water and soil checks, activists say much of what is sometimes Soviet-era monitoring couldbe updated and automated. 63V世界播


Further out, a clearer official strategy on combatting —not just adapting to — global warming would help. While algal blooms are not manmade, they are larger, more toxic and more frequent as sea temperatures rise.Official comments have only just begunto make the link in Kamchatka. 63V世界播


Suffering the consequences of achanging climate already, Russia could do worse than to put the green economyat the heart of its stated focus on developingthe vast Far East region, broadly part of Putin’s national projectsaimed at improvingliving standards and infrastructure. As Solodov argues, it would help expandtourism.So far, thoseplans have beenheavier on rhetoric than on genuine investment andattention from the central government. 63V世界播


For Russian voters, ecological misstepshavelong had political implications: The mishandling of the Chernobyl cataclysm, after all, contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union.In a Levada Center poll published in January, before the coronavirus pandemic took hold, environmental pollutionwas listed as the top perceived threat, ahead of international terrorism,war andeven climate change. With warnings piling up, it’s high time Moscow listens. 63V世界播

对俄罗斯选民来说,生态失误长期以来一直有政治影响:毕竟,切尔诺贝利大灾难处理不当是苏联解体的原因之一。勒瓦达中心(Levada Center)1月份公布的一项民意调查显示,在冠状病毒大流行之前,环境污染被列为最大的感知威胁,排在国际恐怖主义、战争,甚至气候变化之前。随着警告堆积如山,莫斯科是时候倾听了。63V世界播

Clara Ferreira Marques is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering commodities and environmental, social and governance issues. Previously, she was an associate editor for Reuters Breakingviews, and editor and correspondent for Reuters in Singapore, India, the U.K., Italy and Russia. 63V世界播

克拉拉·费雷拉·马奎斯(Clara Ferreira Marque)是彭博社(Bloomberg)观点专栏作家,报道大宗商品以及环境、社会和治理问题。此前,她是路透社Breakingviews的副编辑,以及路透社在新加坡、印度、英国、意大利和俄罗斯的编辑和记者。63V世界播

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