Environmental issues in Russia

Russia, like most modern countries, faces a number of environmental issues. Many of these are directly tied to the country's history, as several policies enacted during the Soviet Union's leadership were enacted with little regard for the surrounding environment. Each of Russia's largest environmental issues is tied directly to the rise and fall of the Soviet empire, and there are many to consider. Here are a list of the most prevalent issues Russia faces today in terms of environment, followed by an explanation of the history behind each, and efforts being made today to combat them.

Animal Conservation

There are a variety of animals living in Russia that are on the list of globally endangered species, or at serious risk. These include animals like the Siberian Tiger, Polar Bear, and Caucasian Leopard.

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Russia has a proud tradition of hunting, and such animals were once prized for their high-quality, dense pelts. Some of these traditions survive today in Russia, despite laws making hunting for such animals illegal. There are many creatures still at risk in the country. Despite this, many nature preserves have been established around the country, and recent conferences hope to spread awareness of the risk these animals face.

Energy Usage & Air Pollution

The largest issue currently facing Russia is energy consumption, and the resulting pollution it brings. The majority of Russia, because of low funding and outdated equipment, relies on burning fossil fuels. This contributes massively to air pollution, which is an ongoing problem in the country to this date.

This is attributable to industry in Russia, which was heavily mechanized up until the early 1990s. Then, the number of vehicles on the road spiked massively, with vehicle emissions now exceeding worldwide averages. The country is still looking into how best to approach the issue of air pollution, and reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.

Water Pollution

Much of Russia is still extremely uninhabited, and that has resulted in the country having a large percentage of its water reserves polluted. Russia does not have the funding required to put water treatment plants in all parts of the country, a serious problem for its citizens in more remote areas. In addition to this, factories pump dangerous chemicals into nearby waters to this day, as the same lack of funding prevents necessary monitoring of local plants.

Nuclear Energy

Russia's greatest surviving problem from its days as part of the Soviet Union is outdated nuclear facilities and waste storage techniques. Many plants surviving from the Cold War era are today outdated and unsafe. Such plants have higher accident risks, and could cause serious problems if allowed to operate at current rates in the near future.

Perhaps the larger issue, however, is nuclear waste disposal. Russia's nuclear program does not have the funding required to construct sufficient nuclear waste disposal grounds, and this often results in unsafe procedures. The country dumped nuclear waste into the sea of Japan until 1994. Thankfully, such practices have largely stopped, and Russia continues to make great efforts to improve their nuclear program with the resources they have.

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