Since Russia is on fire and losing crops, they could probably use a seed bank
Record summer temperatures and drought have caused around 800 wildfires, which in turn covered Moscow in a cloud of poisonous smoke.
Now some 28 fires have reached parts of the Bryansk region of Russia, which is located near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Ukraine – site of the worst nuclear accident in history in 1986. This is raising concerns that the fires could release radioactivity left over from the Chernobyl disaster, which heavily contaminated parts of Bryansk.
From a Spiegel article:
Earlier this week, Greenpeace Russia published a map purporting to show the extent of the wildfires which, it says, are still spreading throughout southwest Russia in areas that were contaminated by Chernobyl fallout. Radioactivity remains in the forest floor and can become airborne again during brush fires. Indeed, hundreds of firefighters have for years been posted within the 30-mile exclusion zone around the stricken reactor for fear of brush fires releasing another cloud of radioactivity.
The government has played down this risk, but they also initially played down the wildfires, so environmentalists remain skeptical.
In the meantime, the smoke has significantly cleared up in Moscow, prompting the Moscow-centric Russian media to focus on this good news. This in turn has drawn criticism from environmentalists, while even the mainstream media has criticized the government in its handling of this national disaster.
According to Dutch environmental group Wetlands International, 90% of the smoke in Moscow is due to drained peat bogs that had caught fire. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin proposed re-wetting the bogs – which had been drained to enable the gathering of peat to burn as fuel – to stop the fires.
From a Reuters UK report:
Wetlands International estimates that drained peatlands account for 6 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from human sources. The U.N. climate panel says global warming stokes desertification, wildfires, floods and rising sea levels.
Ironically, natural wet peat marshes emit methane, an even more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.
A human, ecological and agricultural disaster
From an Associated Press report:
The hottest summer since record-keeping began 130 years ago has cost Russia more than a third of its wheat crop and prompted the government to ban wheat exports through the end of the year. The measure has drawn strong criticism from farmers, who argued that national reserves were enough to meet domestic demand and allow for exports.
Amid this atmosphere of environmental disaster and agricultural plight, Russia is closing the world’s first seed bank and Europe’s largest collection of crops.
A court hearing yesterday decided to open up the land where Pavlovsk agricultural station is located in order to make way for housing development. This means, if next month’s appeal on the decision is lost, so will this treasured seed bank.
During World War II, the station was considered so important by the scientists who worked there, that 12 starved themselves to death rather than survive by eating the seeds contained in the collection. But apparently a World War is not as strong as development, especially when the developers have both the government and the law on their side.
Read more on that story here: