When you think of a winter wonderland, I'm sure the picture that comes to mind is a snowy white landscape...
But sadly that is not the case for a town in northern Russia that was faced with black snow falling last week due to excessive pollution in the area.
TL;DR The pictures and videos below, shared on Valentine's Day, painted a less than romantic picture of a northern Russian coal-mining town. The result? Black snow covered the area like a blanket of soot.
Several news outlets have shared the horrible photos seen below of black snow that has been falling in Siberia due to coal mines in the area.
According to one report, the Kuzbass region pictured below yielded nearly 20 million tons of coal last month alone. That is a combination of coal mines and coal pits.
Black snow in Kuzbass (Russia) 😱 pic.twitter.com/xSBdJGHg4U— Yulia (@Julia1981Russia) February 14, 2019
The area also processes coal and in January of 2019, they processed a reported 16.7 million tons, up from 13.8 million tons in January of 2018.
These open-air coal pits are the cause of the black snow that is currently blanketing the region.
The coal dust that turns the snow black in the Kuzbass comes from numerous open pit mines that environmental activists say have had disastrous consequences for the health of the region’s 2.6 million people https://t.co/IrhR4gshdz— We Don't Have Time (@WeDontHaveTime0) February 17, 2019
A report published by Ecodefense in 2015 notes that 59% of all coal mined in Russia is mined in the Kuzbass region, an area that is home to "120 coal mining facilities and 52 enrichment plants."
In addition to the horrific ecological and environmental impact, life expectancy is also lower in the region. The 2.6 million Russians living in the region live three or four years less than the national average and there are more cases of tuberculosis, cerebral palsy and various cancers.
#Russia is a country of outstanding natural beauty and diversity. But the sheer lack of environmental regulations is a devastating effect for residents in #Kuzbass, where last night there was BLACK SNOW. pic.twitter.com/zMiEWBJbnh— Khodorkovsky Center (@mbk_center) February 14, 2019
In the video above the man can be heard saying:
"Due to coal mining and factory pipe stacks, the snow is essentially soot."
Another bordering town in Ukraine is also suffering from less-than-pristine snow.
Mining is a big economy in Sverdlovsk, too, of both coal and anthracite. The tweet below also explains the green colour of the snow is the result of a chrome factory.
Russian winter wonderland: In Kuzbass black snow has been falling because of coal-processing plants, while in Sverdlovsk it's green because of a chrome factory https://t.co/kNX8qbFik1 pic.twitter.com/wvWceg9s50— Alec Luhn (@ASLuhn) February 20, 2019
These sad images make me think of the play, Uncle Vanya, written by the famous Russian playwright Anton Chekhov.
Even in 1898, the character Astrov denounces the harmful effects of deforestation. When will governing bodies hear our cries for environmental reform?
This one's for you, Putin:
Let's all be grateful for our white snow today... and then take a serious look at how we can make some serious environmental changes in our lives.