Enviromental issues in Russia

Russia is the biggest country and has the most natural resources in the world (oil, gas, timber, metals).  At the same time, it is one of the most polluted areas on our planet.  Environmental problems include deforestation, air and water pollution, soil contamination, etc.

Russian economy depends a lot on oil, gas and metals exports that is why government does not care about ecological consequences of natural resources exploration and prefers getting money without thinking about the future.

I would like to give an example that shows how serious is the environmental issue in Russia now and how unresponsible is our government!

I live in Saint Petersburg that is the second largest Russian city and just near it is located an enormous landfill called “Krasny bor”.  It is one of the largest dump for dangerous industrial waste in Russia and contains about 2 million tons of toxic waste in open air spaces.  The level of those pools has already risen a lot while the snow melts in spring and in some cases the pools even overflowed! Why is it dangerous? Because the toxic waste can reach the underground waters and nearby streams. After that it will mix with rainwater and appear in citizens taps.

Even though government promised to close this landfill and make the operators of Krasny bor to repair waste- storage container, nothing is changing now. The environmental situation in Saint Petersburg is awful; the residents suffer from bad quality water that provokes allergy and other diseases. Last summer I saw an acid rain for the first time in my life. I think it is time to act now and stop to ignore the problem.  The Saint Petersburg authorities always say that the situation is not crucial and ignore any possibility for leakage, but from my point of view it’s a huge ecological time bomb that will explode soon and we won’t be able to deal with its consequences!

To sum up, I should say that there are a lot of environmental issues in Russia and nobody wants to think about it and prevent the contamination. We don’t have any waste recycling systems and we don’t even sort the rubbish. Huge landfills are everywhere that pollute air and water. We cut over and sell our forests just to get profit without thinking about animals that lose their habitat. I am sure that its time to develop environmental laws in order to protect the nature and prevent climate changing!


Irina Startseva


Climate change and small farmers

Have you ever thought that climate changes can have a great impact on small farmers? Most of the people think only about global warming, sea level rising, holes in the ozone layer or extreme weather. We do not think that climate changes can immediately influence our everyday life, our neighbours or even our own harvest.


Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/agriculture/11802703/Theres-a-crisis-a-comin.html

Climate change represents an unprecedented challenge to agricultural production not only in the developing countries. It has already started to affect small farmers all around the world. Small farmers are suffering because of extreme weather and generally all climate changes around the world. The extreme vulnerability of small farmers to agricultural risks is important as well as the vulnerability of big agriculture corporations.

Agriculture business is always risky for small farmers and especially for small farmers in developing countries. Weather changes cause droughts, flood or tropical storms and become more and more unpredictable. Speed and intensity of climate changes are as well as unpredictable. Agriculture is very high dependent on the weather. Can you imagine that you will have the abundant harvest without enough sun or rain?

Farms with less than five acres represent about 70 percent of global food production. Small farmers produce the most of world´s food and at the same time are at the greatest risk of losing crops because of the environment changes. The consequences are more harmful in some countries than in others. Even without any climate changes are African small farmers more vulnerable than farmers in developed countries. Farmers in developing countries do not have access to the best seed varieties including heat- and drought-tolerant types, crop insurance, and precision agriculture technologies. European and American farmers in contrast with African farmers, import fertilizers, pesticides, seeds, seasonal workers and equipment from all over the world. Farmers in developed countries have another big advantage, they have access to new varieties of plants which are more resistant to weather changes.


Source: http://modernfarmer.com/2013/07/qa-with-james-beard-leadership-award-winner-hal-hamilton/

Crop failures and livestock deaths are causing economic losses, raising food prices and undermining food security. How can we fight with these losses and consequences of climate changes? Small farmers need technologies and finances, which can help improve production and reduce climate risks. One of the solutions can be farming associations. These associations put villagers into groups and create small farming collectives. They can have better access to some new practices and technologies; they can experiment with new agricultural techniques. With enough research and technology resources, small farmers can continue to grow enough food.

Most of the countries suffer the consequences of climate change, characterized by reduction and increased variability in rainfall and an increase in temperatures. They do not have access to short-term and long-term weather information, so they are not able to effectively plan the next cropping seasons. These farmers are not fully empowered to make informed decisions about strategies that could affect their vulnerability to climate change in the future. Local communities in low-income countries need support from governments and donors, not only through direct development programs but also through national policies and programs that build sustainable adaptive capacities. It is important to build better rural infrastructure to connect farmers to markets. It can help to get better deals for machinery, seeds or other necessary inputs.

Small farmers are an integral part of our societies and, consequently, the effects of climate change on farmers can threaten food supplies and security as well as increase volatility in global food prices. These farmers are among the most immediately affected but are also the most powerless victims of climate change. Those who contribute least to global emissions are unfairly impacted by the lifestyles of wealthy consumers at the other end of the chain. They usually do not have a chance to participate in international climate change negotiations and global environmental and economic debates. Helping farmers deal with the effects of climate change needs to be a priority for all countries.

Nikola Rajčoková










Earth’s ‘Tipping Points’  

We can define a tipping point as the point at which a series of small changes becomes significant enough to cause a larger change. This situation in which an ecosystem experiences a shift to a new state, with changes to biodiversity at a regional or global scale. Tipping points have common characteristics. For example the changes are long-lasting and really difficult to reverse and between the changes and the appearance of impacts there is a time lag, creating great difficulties.

The tipping points are real problem, because they have huge impacts on humans and ecosystems.  It can be extremely difficult for everyone and everything to adapt to rapid and potentially unsolvable changes. We are sure that tipping points are here and of course will occur in the future as well, but we don´t know the dynamics. We can´t predict the process and avoid or reduce impacts. If we want to eliminate the risk we should implement precautions and change human activities that drive to biodiversity loss.

Speedy climate changes are now a recognized phenomenon in Earth’s history, and there is huge concern that our planet may be at a “tipping point” of dramatic climate change. And this time due to human factors. A lot of scientists are now exploring many parts of the Earth system.

Climate tipping mechanisms

There are many possible tipping mechanisms, some of them we can see down on the map. We are already dealing with few of them. For example Arctic sea ice loss, melt of the Greenland ice sheet and boreal forest dieback. They are not necessarily caused by CO2 concentration, but they depend on rising temperature.


The climate change tipping point is the point at which climate change is irreversible. With different words it is the point when drastic changes come even if we stop emitting CO2. Which was estimated between 350 and 400 parts per million. Last year, climate scientists confirmed that Earth´s atmospheric carbon dioxide levels reached 400 parts per million (ppm). Some scientists believe that crossing this level our planet passed the climate change tipping point. The last time, our planet reached this level was 4.5 million years ago, during the Neogene Period. Others say climate change with these CO2 levels may be reversible. Reversibility itself is very important because it’s impossible, or very difficult, to do anything once you have passed the tipping point.

For reversing we need geoengineering methods for removing CO2 from the atmosphere and cooling the Earth by reflecting or blocking solar radiation back to the universe.

One of the best converters of carbon dioxide into oxygen is Phytoplankton. It makes the oceans the most significant factor in fighting with atmospheric carbon dioxide. Given the rise in carbon dioxide levels, global temperatures can now be expected to rise 2°C. Global temperature is rising so the ocean temperature rises as well. That makes oceans more acidic. And phytoplankton can´t absorb more acidic waters and then they die and release the carbon in their bodies out. From absorbers of carbon dioxide into emitters.


Tundra loss also causes the land to emit stored greenhouse gasses, which are trapped under the frozen surface. Rising sea levels cause the earth’s surface to absorb more heat, since water absorbs more heat than reflective ice.

We are in the middle of a crisis. We facing a catastrophe and everything that brings with it, like crop failure, drought, flooding, extreme weather and rising sea levels.

Have we passed the tipping point?

We need to take the sensitivity of climate into consideration. To find out how much warming a given greenhouse gas concentration causes. The models that show us what can be done are just predictions and illustrations; we cannot be sure what will actually happen. No one knows the answer, we can only guess.

But we can see the warming process and changing patterns already here. We are looking at a changed world. Unfortunately we don´t have any other option how to escape only change it or adapt to it. We have to try and contribute to the climate change. Take the reasonable actions to at least reduce our problem or stop worsening it. Even if we are skeptical about the tipping points, it is not an excuse for us to be inactive.

We cannot stay passive! It is our call.

Renata Smolkova

FMV – HD – Climate Change and Environment in International Relations








Global warming, Europe cooling?

One of the biggest problems our Earth is facing today is global warming. Even many people doubt that global warming exist, probably everyone noticed that there have been changes in the weather since we were children. Me too, even my childhood was not very long time ago.

But what is it global warming? Usually we use this term to describe a gradual increase in the average temperature of Earth´  s surface, oceans and atmosphere. Over the past 50 years the average global temperature has increased at the fastest rate in recorded history. And it is accelerating. All but one of the 16 hottest years in NASA´  s 134-year record have occurred since 2000. According the Environmental Protection Agency, Earth  ´s average temperature has risen by 0,8 degrees Celsius over the past century. And to future, it is projected the rise of the temperature from 1,13 to 6,4 degrees Celsius.

What are the causes of global warming? It can be also caused by changes in nature (like it is often presented by some politicians), but big majority of climate scientists agree that the rate of global warming trends the planet is now experiencing is primarily the result of human activity. Global warming occurs when carbon dioxide, methane and other air pollutants (known as greenhouse gasses) collect in the atmosphere and absorb sunlight and solar radiation that have bounced off the Earth´  s surface. This radiation would normally escape into space, but these pollutants trap the heat and cause the planet to get hotter. This phenomenon is known as greenhouse effect.

The effects of global warming are already visible. The huge icebergs melt, the storms are more aggressive. And this is just the beginning. The scientists believe that climate change will make hurricanes more intense (we could saw it also in the past few years). It is because their energy comes from temperature differences between the warm tropical ocean and cold upper atmosphere and global warming increases this difference. Of course, temperatures are getting more intense, as well.

The fact that many people do not link with global warming is, that it can cause the cooling of some parts of Earth, mainly Europe. It is called climate paradox. How is it possible? There has been a study made in 2015 that analysed winter weather data between 1958 and 2014. The scientists found out that over the past years, ice levels in the Icelandic and Greenland seas (regions that are important regulators of Earth´  s climate system) have significantly reduced. That´s why they believe, that this loss of ice will cause the flow of warmer water from the tropics to be affected, weakening the Gulf Stream and leading to cooler temperatures in Western Europe.

The research, that was published in Nature Climate Change, is the first attempt to examine how changes in the air-sea heat exchange in the region can affect global warming. This is also the first research where scientists have considered the possible impact of these changes on oceanic circulation, including the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC).

AMOC is a process in Atlantic Ocean, when warm, salty water travels north in the upper layers of the Atlantic, while a colder flow of water moves south in the deep Atlantic. It moves a large amount of heat energy from the tropics to North Atlantic. This heat is then transferred to the atmosphere and moderates the climate in this region. As the heat is transferred, the water becomes colder and denser and this sinks and travels back to the south and eventually rises again in the tropics.

The problem is, that as sea ice from Iceland and Greenland retreats, this flow of cold water to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean could be reduced, and therefore weaken the warming effects of the Gulf stream. And that could cool the atmosphere over the British Isles and western Europe. The result of this phenomenon in the medium term would be a slight cooling in average temperatures, cooler summers and less rainfall.

This is predicted to be one of the irreversible tipping points that could result in calamitous climate change. Besides Europe, this can have also negative effects for the North-eastern United States (like more summer rainfall).

According to another study, some scientists think that this phenomenon will cause a slowdown of the Thermohaline Circulation, rather than cooling Europe. That would mean that the continent will still warm, but less quickly than other parts of the world. This new situation could rise the welfare in Europe, because other parts of the world will warn faster. The study also predicts that developing countries may warm faster than other, more developed parts of the world.

There are also scientists that do not believe the Gulf stream has so large impact on the climate in Europe. They think the role of ocean heat transport in determining regional climates around the Atlantic Ocean is limited and the atmospheric flow of heat has a major influence on climate in North Atlantic region. According to their study, a slowdown of the Gulf Stream would cause a modest cooling tendency. This would not change the contrast across the Atlantic and not put Europe back into the ice age or anything like it. In fact, the cooling tendency would probably be overwhelmed by the direct radiatively-driven warming by rising greenhouse gases. They even compare this “European climate myth” to myths like Earth being flat and sun going around the Earth.

The opinions of scientists on causes of global warming in Europe are different. There are also researches made to support their arguments. Some of them think the global warming can cause the cooling of Europe, some of them do not think so. The fact is, that even if it didn´  t cause cooling of Europe, it will have some consequences, more likely negative. That means, no matter of cooling or warming, we must stop it in order to maintain the climate we are used to now. Not just to save Europe, but to save the whole world.

Governments need to jointly decide to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emission by switching to renewable sources of energy. But we, as individuals can contribute to this too in our everyday life. We can use more energy efficient appliances, use less hot water, recycle, use reusable bags, buy fresh locally grown and produced foods. Also, we could reduce the number of miles we drive by walking, biking, taking mass transit whenever possible. It is all on us, we can stop it, but we need to cooperate and change our way of life unless it´s too late.

Lucia Poláková










Why I stand up for SDG 13 – Climate action

Hello everybody,

First of all I would like to introduce myself. I’m Andrej Csizmadia born in small town of Nové Zámky in Slovakia, currently studying at the University of economics in Bratislava, Faculty of international relations. I’m 22 years old and besides my studies I’m also active as member of the biggest student run organization, AIESEC, with committee in Bratislava. AIESEC was the place, where I “met” SDGs for the first time. I guess, that would be enough about me, because this blog post is not going to be about myself.


Continue reading Why I stand up for SDG 13 – Climate action

Climate change is affecting people´s lives in Africa


Climate change is real. It is happening all around us. Over the last century, our planet has become warmer. But in particular over the last 40 years it is now recognized that human activity is largely responsible for this global warming. The burning of fossil fuels has released huge quantity of gasses which trap additional heat in our atmosphere. The impact of this is being seen worldwide: the glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising, the diseases are spreading, the dry areas are expanding and the food security is threatened. Unfortunately, the African continent is particularly exposed and vulnerable to the negative effects of global warming because of its geographical position. Global warming is affecting people´s lives in three key areas: agriculture, water, and health. As we know water is very important for people in Africa because of their farming activities. It allows them to grow their crops of the agriculture and for the money that they are receiving from the sale of their crops; they can send their children to school to have better lives than their parents and to learn how to manage problems that are caused by global warming or to buy them medicines if they get sick. But because of raising temperature and lack of rain fall because of climate change the dry lands are expanding so the people who live in the most arid areas of Africa are highly dependent on forests and trees that provide them with food and medicine because agriculture is poor option in these parts of Africa. So the farmers in Africa are facing really serious problems and challenges. However, agriculture is highly dependent on water and because of global warming and temperature raising the yields in some parts of Africa could drop by up to 50%. Whereas, in poor areas of Africa the water is missing, farmers are not able to increase production. But water is not only important for agriculture because the water is also used in households, schools, hospitals as well as for animals which are a source of food too.

Nowadays, the Africa is facing lack of water and the droughts. So the main challenge for the Africa is irrigation, water supply and implementation of the best water management because all is related. If the water is polluted because of human activity, the farmers in Africa will not be able to use this water for their lands because it will have a bad impact on the soil and on crops which are produced on this land. If there will be no harvest then they will not have the money available for education and health. And when people drink contaminated water they can die. So land loses farmers who are taking care of her and the world loses people who are taking care for our livelihood.

The role of agriculture is undeniable for the African people. The agriculture is the main source of food and income for them. In this case, if the harvest is not good enough, prices of crops are falling which means a significant drop in income for African people. Because of this one of the main objectives in Africa is how to keep African soil productive, water clear, forests maintained and find the ways to avoid all the negative consequences that global warming brings. In any case, it will be very difficult task for African government and civil society. What are the other consequences of the global warming on Africa? climate-change-vulnerability-in-africa_7239

It is assumed that the temperature will rise by 4ºC in 2100 and this will cause 40% less rainfall. So some areas in Africa will get drier and drier, but not only in Africa. When this will happen there will be more droughts, more high winds and also more floods which will be caused by extreme weather events because of climate changes. All these factors will affect productivity in agriculture and thus the GDP will drop, croplands will drop by up to 90% and people´s health will be affected. Climate change also causes various diseases from food and water such as cholera, dengue and malaria and threatens people´s nutrition mostly in Africa due to soil contamination, so food security will decrease. Food insecurity leads to famine which is nowadays one of the biggest world´s problems too. Not only nature will suffer, but the people will suffer and all because of us and our actions. That is why the only solution is monitoring the situation in Africa by satellite observations, cooperation between countries and ensuring the transmission and sharing of information, tools and systems. Nowadays there are a substantial number of projects between Africa and other countries that are trying to help people living in Africa in the provision of water, food and soil protection. The one of the many projects is EAU4FOOD which is project between African and European Union to increase food production in irrigated farming systems or the projects WHaTer and CLARA which help provide clean water and build water supplies in small communities in Africa. And the example of declaration is Libreville Declaration on Health and Environment in Africa (2008). This declaration describes the major health and environment challenges.

It is in our power to change the world, so if we can help we should. And the reason id simple: nature can live without us but we cannot live without nature!












First of all, I would like to explain the word deforestation – what it means. Deforestation is the permanent destruction of forests in order to make the land available for other uses. Deforestation is considered to be one of the contributing factors to global climate change. An estimated 18 million acres  of forest, which is roughly the size of the country of Panama, are lost each year, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.

Trees are cut down for many reasons, for example:

  • To be used, sold or exported as timber, wood or fuel
  • To be used for farming purposes
  • To make room for human settlement and urbanization
  • To make room for mining
  • Soy, palm oil and other crop plantations

The number one problem caused by deforestation is the impact on the global carbon cycle. Gas molecules that absorb thermal infrared radiation are called greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most prevalent greenhouse gas. In 2012, CO2 accounted for about 82 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas. The deforestation of trees not only lessens the amount of carbon stored, it also releases carbon dioxide into the air. This is because when trees die, they release the stored carbon. Deforestation releases nearly a billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere per year, though the numbers are not as high as the ones recorded in the previous decade. Deforestation is the second largest anthropogenic source of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, ranging between 6 percent and 17 percent.

I would like to talk about Amazonian deforestation because of the high pecantage of deforestation in this area. Even though Amazonia is not even in first 20 top deforestated areas. Since 1978 over 750,000 square kilometers  of Amazon rainforest have been destroyed across Brazil,Colombia, Bolivia, Peru,  Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana, and French Guiana.

Deforestation in the Amazon was primarily the product of subsistence farmers who cut down trees to produce crops for their families and local consumption. But in the later part of the 20th century, that began to change, with an increasing proportion of deforestation driven by industrial activities and large-scale agriculture. By the 2000s more than three-quarters of forest clearing in the Amazon was for cattle-ranching. The result of this shift is forests in the Amazon were cleared faster than ever before in the late 1970s through the mid 2000s.

Vast areas of rainforest were felled for cattle pasture and soy farms, drowned for dams, dug up for minerals, and bulldozed for towns and colonization projects. At the same time, the proliferation of roads opened previously inaccessible forests to settlement by poor farmers, illegal logging, and land speculators. But that trend began to reverse in Brazil in 2004. Since then, annual forest loss in the country that contains nearly two-thirds of the Amazon’s forest cover has declined by roughly eighty percent. The drop has been fueled by a number of factors, including increased law enforcement, satellite monitoring, pressure from environmentalists, private and public sector initiatives, new protected areas, and macroeconomic trends. Nonetheless the trend in Brazil is not mirrored in other Amazon countries, some of which have experienced rising deforestation since 2000.

In Brazil in 1970 was total forest loss 98, 400 square kilometres, in 2000 was the number of the forest loss much higher and the number was already 575,903 square kilometres. Year by year the loss is bigger and bigger, in 2015 the total forest loss was 768, 935 square kilometres. The number of deforestated area is almost 8 times higher than it was in year 1970. These numbers are just the deforestation of Amazonia in Brazil. Brazil holds about one-third of the world’s remaining rainforests, including a majority of the Amazon rainforest. Terrestrially speaking, it is also the most biodiverse country on Earth, with more than 56,000 described species of plants, 1,700 species of birds, 695 amphibians, 578 mammals, and 651 reptiles.

10 most deforestated countries in the world are:

  1. Honduras
  2. Nigeria
  3. The Philippines
  4. Benin
  5. Ghana
  6. Indonesia
  7. Nepal and North Korea
  8. Ecuador and Haiti

One of the easy ways how to combat the deforestation is to plant a tree. Personally I think that this is not helping to solve the problem of the deforestation. If we plant one tree, other three trees are cut down. What could help are the companies which are using the trees.

When companies have the power to destroy the world’s forests, they also have the ability to help save them. Companies can make an impact by introducing “zero deforestation” policies that clean up their supply chains. That means holding their suppliers accountable for producing commodities like timber, beef, soy, palm oil and paper in a way that does not fuel deforestation and has a minimal impact on our climate. Companies should set ambitious targets to maximize the use of recycled wood, pulp, paper and fiber in their produts.

Donáta Čepčeková