The Green EarthEdit
Politics and the Environment
In today's world it is easy to forget how seemingly unrelated political affairs can impact the environment, for good and bad. While we are obsessed with environmental laws, we shouldn't forget the vageirs of history when contemplating the Earth's fate and current state.
Before the war, Russia was developing industrial power. Eager to match the UK or Germany, Russia pouring resources into developing vast swaths of previous empty land. Like in all nations, this took a heavy toll on the land, primarily in the most Western regions. Massive farms and factories starting popping up everywhere. The Czar was determined to turn Russian from a pastoral state to one that could compete with urban polities like Britain or America. The forests were decimated and the rivers over fished, but this was just the start. A true industrial revolution would have to occur to truly ruin Russia's great environmental ecosystem.
Fortunately, for the environment, it never happened. The twists of wars and politics threw Russia into a male storm of riot and revolution for years and into distress for decades. While some of these war (such as the Russo-Ukrainian War) did harm the environment, as a whole, their effect was negligible. What was important was that overall development was retarded. Without the system in place, or the capital, industrial development stagnated. While other nations were building massive industrial-complexes and automated mines, Russia lagged. It forests were only partially mangled and many mineral deposits lay untouched. Even population slowed, as health standards lowered, and many areas (Poland, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan) left the Empire. One side effect was that the Russian ecosystem was not subjected to any crash-course in development.
One might shudder at what an autocratic state dictated program might have done to the delicate environment of Russia. Moscow was/is known for being heavy handed. A desperate government, which needed to catch up to the West might even have permanently damaged a nation as large as Russia. Its vast web of freshwater resources would more likely have been polluted by mining and the large animals that are still roaming Siberia would be long gone. Wolves, tigers, and bears aren't what nations are looking for when they are developing. The Aral sea would be damaged, if not totally so. Vast irrigation projects (conceived even by the small Moscow princes of our time) would have been implemented, along with 'Virgin Soil” plans, further destroying marginal agricultural land. Vast areas of deforestation and wide spread ranching, with little management. A huge growth in population, demanding much from the land. Maybe even a more advanced Russia would have been the home of some of the nuclear disasters.
While such visions are hard to comprehend for us, it could have happened very easily. Instead we have a Russia who 'slept' through he bad years and is only now starting to capitalize on its rich environmental riches, and it is doing it from an intelligent eco-friendly mindset. Mankind might have missed this chance to save the top half of Asia had the Czar been victorious in his wars.
While India doesn't have such a clear cut change, it too has its own share of political mis-adventures. They range from the minor, like the 1937 expansion of the Royal Indian Navy dockyards, which destroyed countless miles of priceless wetlands, to the large scale, like Britain's move (continued by the native government) to lay thousands of mile of new rails down. The major push for industry (which was led by Indians, it should be noted) poisoned countless rivers and streams, while filling many valleys with polluted air. Despite recent revisionist history, native Indians were pushing for more development, not for an end to British environmental damage. Of course, despite this bleak outlook, Britain did institute some system of regulations and laws, which Delhi then continued. Also, London, even after independence, sent many advisors through the Commonwealth to India. One wonders what it might have been like without such British aid and oversight. A small, former colony desperate to expand would be terrible on the environment. In either case, grand plans like the Ganges Dam or the Burmese Irrigation system would still be fantasizes. It is hard to see them ever take place, but if they did, the toll would be catastrophic. Despite various political choices, it is not destined that just majestic animals like the Indian Rhino, Cheetah or Lion go extinct they did they here. These are mistakes we should learn from.
The destruction of North Italy's ecosystem was far more deliberate then India or even the USA. The ecological train wreck that is the north half of the Italian peninsula stems directly from a vast number of government programs that range from the mass 'communism' of farming to the massive forced industry. With little to no pollution regulations or labor safety laws, factories and manufacturers feel no compulsion to care about the environment. With the Milan government desperate to 'catch' up to the rest or Europe and to be a major power, they have sacrificed their environment. And they have got precious little in return.
The new industries are remarkably inefficient and the farms have poor output. But the desperate call for improved production leads to corruption and lying, and this is for the ever important quota. Imagine what happens if environmental regulation is on the line. The drive for hydroelectric power has led to many dams and turbines being set up on rivers and streams destroying the aquatic habitats. The dams are rarely thought out with any ecological impact in mind, ignoring fish and other creatures. Not that this matters in mosts cases as the rivers are toxic filled ditches in many places. Forests are ill-harvested with little regard to topsoil and wind damage. Poaching and over hunting is common as North Italy attempts to paint a 'masculine' image.
What makes this so sad, is that the successful, fairly prosperous state of Frilui inhabits the same ecological zone, and it (compared to North Italy) is a paradise of conservation. With a robust fruit and grain industry and a burengiong manufacturing sector, they have taken the same set of circumstances