The war has myriad negative aspects that are not obvious at first glance. For example, when we discuss the invasion’s environmental consequences, few consider its impacts on Ukraine’s scientific community. The war has not only halted work on many biological and environmental initiatives. It is also threatening the data collected by researchers over many, many years.
In his article, Ukrainian Nature Conservation Group’s Oleksii Marushchak describes how researchers collect, catalog, and preserve data collected over years of research. Current technology makes the process more efficient than it was, for example, during World War II. However, without the necessary speed and support, the probability of losing significant amounts of information is still high. This could be a catastrophe for environmental protection not only in Ukraine, but also in Europe.
The war is prompting the mass migration of Ukrainians, and thus also Ukraine’s scientific communities. Today, 14.7% of scientists involved in biological sciences have already left Ukraine and another 38.1% are internally displaced. Between shelling and drone strikes on the national energy sector, it is not even possible to work virtually. In addition, there is a significant shortage of personnel, especially young staff. Most monitoring programs are on hold, either because of the ongoing fighting or because of a simple lack of resources. UWEC Work Group’s Oleksii Vasyliuk discusses the struggle of biological and environmental scientists to survive in this situation.
Hydropower plants and the reservoirs that support them have been used and continue to be used as weapons for achieving military goals. During WWII, the destruction of the Dnipro hydropower plant killed thousands of people. Today, the threat of blasting the Kakhovka hydropower plant is widely discussed as a possible scenario, an event which could result in civilian deaths, but also has the potential to create additional difficulties for operation of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant. Our experts Eugene Simonov and Oleksii Vasyliyuk analyzed the “lessons of war” related to hydropower plants.
The gas leak resulting from damage to the Nord Stream pipeline was a clear demonstration of how events related to the war in Ukraine can directly affect the ecology of other regions. Methane emissions over just a few days is roughly equivalent to half of Denmark’s annual emissions or the greenhouse gas emissions of one of Europe’s largest coal plants. We publish a transcript of a conversation with Sascha Müller-Kroener, director of Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V. (Environmental Action Germany and Eco-action Germany), which first appeared in the Eurasian Climate Brief podcast series.
Peace and strength be with you, dear friends!
Editor, UWEC Work Group