What has been going on with our natural environment over the past few decades? Are we sliding down into a global climatic catastrophe, or is this simply a chain of different natural calamities? What has to be done without delay to ensure the safety of our population? Our special correspondent Rudolf Balandin turned with these and other questions to Acad. Viktor Osipov, Director of the RAS Institute of Geoecology.
- Viktor Ivanovich, to begin with let me ask you about the validity of forecasts about steadily deteriorating situation in the biosphere*?
- There is no denying the fact that in the latter half of the 20th century the ecological situation on this planet sharply deteriorated. The number of natural and technogenic catastrophes has increased, accompanied by vast material losses and losses of life. Over the past 30 years nearly 1.4 mn people perished in the Asian-Pacific Region alone and the total number of victims approached 4 bn. In 1995 - 1999 the number of major natural calamities increased by more than three times on the average as compared with 1965-1969. Most common are tropical storms and floods (they account for some 32 percent of the total number of natural disasters), and then come earthquakes (12 percent) and droughts (10 percent).
The situation has also deteriorated in Europe which was regarded as relatively quiet until recently. From 1971 to 1996 it was hit by 163 floods and one of the most devastating ones-in June 1997-hit towns and villages in Czechia, Slovakia and Poland. The total losses were estimated at 4 bn dollars. In the year 2000 floods in the Italian and Swiss Alps and Great Britain and hurricanes "Anatol", "Loma" and "Martin" cost Western Europe about 15 bn dollars. In the summer of 2002 another "flood" hit Central Europe. In Czechia it hit 504 urban centers and towns. Flooded in Prague were 17 subway stations and water level rose by 8 - 9 m. The total damage was estimated at over 3 bn dollars.
- Your examples refer only to foreign ... Read more