News / Europe

Russians Take Another Look at Global Warming

Russian PM Vladimir Putin (l) meets with people, who suffered from forests fires which swept the area in the village of Verkhnyaya Vereya, 30 Jul 2010
Russian PM Vladimir Putin (l) meets with people, who suffered from forests fires which swept the area in the village of Verkhnyaya Vereya, 30 Jul 2010
James Brooke

Russia, the world's largest producer of oil and gas, has always taken a skeptical view of climate change. In the wake of last summer's fires, public opinion is shifting.

In the past, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has joked that global warming would mean that Russians would buy fewer fur coats and enjoy longer growing seasons. But after the fires, he and many Russians are taking a more open-minded view of the impact of humans on their climate.

At a recent conference here on the Arctic, he surprised visiting scientists by supporting research into theories that burning hydrocarbons is causing a dangerous build up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Referring to global warming, he asked: "How are we influencing the speed of this process?"

Last summer's record high temperatures did not just bring Miami heat to Moscow. Droughts destroyed one third of the nation's grain crops, causing $1.3 billion in losses to farmers.

Around Moscow, fires smoldered unchecked in dried out peat bogs, filling the capital with woodsmoke. According to new figures, Moscow alone saw 9,000 extra deaths in August - almost a 70 percent jump in the mortality rate. Across Russia, the mortality rate jumped by more than one quarter.

According to a new survey, one third of Russians polled attributed the fires to global warming. An overwhelming majority  expected a repeat of the fires next summer.

Igor Chestin, executive director of WWF Russia, has watched the change in public attitudes in a nation that relies heavily on its oil and gas exports:

"The public does not think they can do anything about it," said Chestin. "It is just something that happens, but it is not in their hands."

At the Arctic conference, Alexander Bedritsky, the Kremlin's advisor on climate change, said that temperatures in the Russian arctic had increased twice as fast as in the rest of the world.

Last week, a Norwegian trimaran, the Northern Passage, completed circling the North Pole in a single summer season. With much of the route going through Russian waters, the crew said in a statement: "Less than 10 years ago, the first steel-hulled sailboat managed to get through just one of the passages, and 100 years ago, a circumnavigation would have taken six years."

At the Moscow conference, Anatoli Brouchkov, a permafrost expert at Moscow State University' said that climate change is eroding the permafrost, the frozen soil layer essential for construction in the Russian Arctic

"About 50 percent of the buildings in the Russian Far North are damaged," said Brouchkov.

With Russian public opinion shifting, Russian leaders increasingly call for energy efficiency in a gas guzzling economy.

As a sign of the times, Moscow's new mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, vowed Thursday to impose construction standards that could raise the energy efficiency in new homes and offices by 30 percent.

You May Like

As US Strikes Syria, China Sees Parallels at Home

Beijing is debating how much support to give international coalition against IS militants and trying to figure out how many Chinese nationals may have joined group overseas More

CDC: Ebola Could Infect 1.4 M by 2015

US health officials say if efforts to curb the outbreak are not increased, cases will soar dramatically by early next year More

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in 5 Countries

US Agency for International Development partners with celebrities to call attention to importance of education for girls worldwide More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'i
X
Scott Stearns
September 23, 2014 10:52 PM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video US, Gulf Allies Strike Islamic State Militants in Syria

United States forces have carried out strikes against Islamic State or ISIL militant positions in Syria - the first time Western forces have taken action on Syrian soil. Five U.S. allies from the Gulf joined the military action. Local reports suggest dozens of militants were killed. The U.S. also carried out unilateral missile strikes against a Syria-based terror group which Washington says poses an imminent threat to the West. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video High Intensity Focused Ultrasound Used to Kill Cancer Tumor

There is a new way of killing certain cancer tumors that allows the patient to go home on the same day. Surgeons at the Keck Medical Center of the University of Southern California became the first doctors to use this procedure on a patient with the help of high intensity focused ultrasound, or HIFU, and new robotic technology. Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in Five Countries

Hollywood stars Alicia Keys, Jennifer Garner and 30 others have voiced their support for a U.S.-backed initiative called "Let Girls Learn." The $231 million program, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, is aimed at ensuring public and quality education for girls worldwide. As VOA's Mariama Diallo reports, this new program will focus on five countries in Africa, South Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
Video

Video UN: Relocation of Bedouins in Israel Weakens Two-state Solution

Rural Bedouins living in disputed lands east of Jerusalem could soon find themselves forcibly relocated. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Jerusalem that while Israel defends the move as in the Bedouins’ best interests, the United Nations says the plan threatens the survival of the two-state solution with Palestinians.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Prolonged Drought Plagues SW Oklahoma Farmers

Parts of western Texas and southwestern Oklahoma have been in drought conditions for several years running and the deficit in rainfall has taken a heavy toll on cotton and grain production. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin says the state has suffered $2 billion in agricultural losses since 2011. There has been rain in recent weeks, but, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Altus, Oklahoma, for most farmers it has been too late.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid