Saturday, August 28, 2010

Russia's 2010 Wildfires: "A Miser Pays Twice"

"Vladimir Chuprov of Moscow’s Greenpeace office said Mr Putin’s reform had left 70,000 forest guards without work, dismantling a monitoring system that would have been of great help in the current situation. “Now no one even knows exactly where the fires are,” he said. “The 120,000 men from the emergency ministry sent to fight the fires don’t even know how to fight forest fires because they are trained only in fighting fires in cities and industrial objects.”---Financial Times (8-7-10)

Russian environmentalists claim that miserly government policies have contributed to the destructiveness of the summer wildfires. Russian Greenpeace has published an article titled "A Miser Pays Twice" (8-10-10) after the Russian proverb скупой платит дважды, the Russian equivalent of penny-wise pound-foolish.

It has been interesting to read Russia's official press agency RIA Novosti quote NASA about the location of fires in Russia. NASA has an office in Russia, and maybe NASA satellites and scientists have been helping the Russians locate some of those more than 500 wildfires in their huge country. RIA Novosti reports that the smoke is so thick that saltellites cannot always see the fires. Here is a link to the word Russia on the NASA search engine. Here is a link to the word NASA on the RIA Novosti site.

RIA Novosti has a special report in Russian called Hot Summer--2010. The articles are in Russian, but you can use your Google translation tool. The articles frequently quote NASA satellite data.

Communism may be finished in Russia, but that does not mean that there is no federal role for fighting wildfires. According to the British newspaper The Financial Times (8-7-10):

Criticism is mounting of the [Russian] authorities handling of the wildfires. At least 52 people have perished, while the death rate in Moscow and other regions was reportedly surging due to the effects of smog.

A new Forest Code rubber-stamped by parliament under Vladimir Putin, then Russian president, in 2006 has come under intense criticism for dismantling a federal safety system, transferring responsibility for safety to regional authorities and tenants such as logging companies, which have performed badly.

Vladimir Chuprov of Moscow’s Greenpeace office said Mr Putin’s reform had left 70,000 forest guards without work, dismantling a monitoring system that would have been of great help in the current situation. “Now no one even knows exactly where the fires are,” he said. “The 120,000 men from the emergency ministry sent to fight the fires don’t even know how to fight forest fires because they are trained only in fighting fires in cities and industrial objects.”

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