The Other Ukraine War Is on the Environment

As the Ukraine war continues, another war is taking place that is not making the headlines. And this one may harm the entire world for years to come. That war is on the environment.

Political issues aside, the Ukraine war is releasing vast amounts of climate-changing gasses that are negatively impacting the atmosphere.

The fighting is already contaminating water supplies and farmlands in Ukraine, as well as nearby countries. 

Among my other concerns about the war and its impact on the environment are the following:

  • The bombing of the Shebel oil refinery near Kyiv is causing billions of dollars in environmental damage. “It will burn for a long time,” according to the Ukrainian Volunteer Journalists Initiative (UVJI). “The environmental damage will be enormous.”
  • There are 15 operating nuclear power plants in Ukraine. If one gets damaged or destroyed amid airstrikes, it could cause another Chernobyl disaster.
  • Chemical, metallurgical (metals), mining and nuclear waste dumps are located throughout Ukraine. Once again, if these are damaged or bombed, it poses an enormous risk to food and water supplies for this entire region of the world.
  • The carcinogens in the explosives used in the fighting can cause several health risks. According to Wired magazine, “soldiers and civilians are inhaling a variety of air pollution that is more dangerous than sucking on the tailpipe of a vehicle.”
  • The Kyiv Zoo is home to 4,000 animals, including elephants, camels and the only gorilla in the country. According to zoo staff, the animals are being given sedatives to keep them calm during the shooting, but the chance to evacuate the animals to safety has long passed.

What is also a catastrophe is that before the war, Ukraine was taking serious steps to become greener and more sustainable. I fear many of these initiatives may be lost for generations.

About the Author

Stephen P. Ashkin
Stephen P. Ashkin is president of The Ashkin Group, a consulting firm specializing in greening the cleaning industry. He also is CEO of Sustainability Dashboard Tools, which helps facilities monitor and measure their use of natural resources. He is known as the “father of green cleaning” and the professional cleaning industries leading advocate promoting sustainability. He is coauthor of The Business of Green Cleaning and Green Cleaning for Dummies.

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