Saturday, August 31, 2013

Norilsk by chance: did someone say "anthropocene"?

I don't know if you have the same hobby; but sometimes I go looking places at random using "Google Maps". At times, it is remarkable what you can find. For instance, here is a picture of the town of Norilsk, in Northern Siberia, that I had no idea existed; I just landed there by chance. Look at the smoke: what the hell are they doing there? (they also seem to have a nuclear plant, look at the upper right of the figure).

Searching in Wikipedia, I discovered a number of interesting things: Norilsk is a metal mining town in the Northern area of the Krasnoyarsk region. Probably, the smoke is the result of smelting something. Apparently, pollution generating by smelting is a disaster, there. Wikipedia says that acidic pollution is so bad that there is not a single tree left standing for 50 km around town: I can barely imagine what this kind of pollution does to people's lungs. I also learned that Norilsk is the only major city completely built on permafrost. Well, they are going to have big problems because of that!
And, a few km South of Norilsk, look at this!

It is a gigantic open pit mine that most likely feeds the smelters in town. The buildings look abandoned, but the mine looks still active: look at the excavators, down in the pit.

So, did someone say Anthropocene? Yeah......


Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome, faculty member of the University of Florence, and the author of "Extracted" (Chelsea Green 2014), "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017), and Before the Collapse (Springer 2019)