Air Clean Up

  • Snow White - Russia's Strange Solution to Dirty Snow

Snow White - Russia's Strange Solution to Dirty Snow

Jan 19 2019 Read 649 Times

Dirty snow, caused by soot from fires, dust from soil and, most commonly of all, pollution from industrial power plants and factories, has become more and more of a common problem all over the northern hemisphere in recent years. Russia, which is the sixth biggest producer of coal and the most northerly of any country in the top ten, is no stranger to the phenomenon.

However, residents of the small town of Mysky in the Siberian province of Kemerevo were left nonplussed after it surfaced that the local authorities had taken an unusual approach to combating the black snow. Rather than tackle its root causes or implement measures to restrict pollution, they simply covered up its unsightly appearance by coating it in white paint.

A startling discovery

The roguish behaviour of the town establishment came to light when a local woman stumbled across the fakery and sent a video into a local media channel. She filmed herself touching the bank of snow, which was located outside a community centre where children often play, and coming away with paint on her hand.

A spokesperson for the municipality was sheepish when confronted with the footage. “I will refrain from assessing the professional qualities of the workers, because it is quite obvious,” explained Dmitry Ivanov. “I gave the command to immediately clean the paint and put it in order. I apologise to the townspeople for whom this incident spoiled the New Year mood.”

A widespread problem

While the town’s approach to covering up their dirty little secret has given them more media exposure than they would have liked, the phenomenon has been observed far and wide in recent years. In February last year, residents of a Kazakh town were treated to a Black January as opposed to a White Christmas when a blanket of black dust settled on the deep snow that had been in place throughout the festive period.

Elsewhere, the issue has also been observed in places as remote as the Arctic Circle and the Himalayan mountain range. There are a variety of contributing factors but the biggest one is undoubtedly manmade industry, especially in colder climates near coal factories or other energy generation plants.

A sign of the times

Rather than covering up the problem, as the hapless authorities in this small Russian town foolishly tried to do, it must fall to governments and corporations to clean up their act and rein in the damaging effects of their emissions. Of course, energy and electricity will still be vital components of daily human life and are only set to increase in demand in the coming years, but exploring sustainability in mining is the best way to meet our needs without endangering our planet.

If we continue to extract and combust fossil fuels in similar quantities as we currently do, harbingers of climate problems for the next generation, like this black snow, will continue to abound. Avoiding a worst-case scenario tomorrow can only be achieved by amending our habits today.

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