By Paul Goble
The abnormally hot summer of 2023 which set records across the country is part of the global warming trend that is hitting Russia harder than the vast majority of countries. A new survey says that this warming trend threatens not only Russian infrastructure in the north but even the survival of numerically small peoples there.
In a report on the To Be Precise portal, journalist Vladimir Omelin considers both the specific temperature figures over the past summer and also the impact of such warming across the board (tochno.st/materials/etim-letom-volny-zhary-nakryvali-80-krupnykh-gorodov-rossii-ekstremalnye-temperatury-nablyudalis-71-den-to-est-pochti-ezhednevno).
Almost every day this past summer in the major cities and regions of Russia, temperatures set a record. Hardest hit were the northern and eastern regions of the country, where temperatures were higher than any on record over the last 100 years. Especially disturbing is that these temperatures pushed mortality rates even in the city of Moscow five percent.
Especially hard hit were the Arctic regions of the country, Omelin says. “If in the majority of cities of Russia for the last 60 years, temperatures have risen 2 to 2.5 degrees centigrade, in Arctic cities like Anadyr, Salekhard and Khatanga, they have gone up three degrees and in Yakutsk four degrees.
Rising temperatures and the melting of the permafrost layer means that approximately 40 percent of all buildings and infrastructure there has been harmed; and the environmental ministry says that losses from this by mid-century will be “a minimum of five trillion rubles” – 50 billion US dollars.
“The most significant harm has occurred in the Yamalo-Nenets AD. In the zone of greatest risk are the cities of Novy Urengoy and Vorkuta. And important economic objects also are suffering, including 1590 km of the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline, 1260 km of major pipelines in Yamalo-Nenets, and 280 km of the Ob-Bovanenkovo way.”
But two other conclusions Omelin offers in his richly sourced article are if anything even more important. He suggests that climate change in the Russian north puts at risk the survival of the numerically small peoples of the region because it will destroy the natural world on which they rely and that it will also accelerate global warming elsewhere as well.