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Michael R. Edelstein and Lyudmila V. Smirnova
Four cast iron lions guard the charming Lions footbridge crossing St. Petersburg's Griboedov Canal. The first author strolled across the bridge on an August evening in…
Four cast iron lions guard the charming Lions footbridge crossing St. Petersburg's Griboedov Canal. The first author strolled across the bridge on an August evening in 1998 with a Russian friend, Polina. The experience presents a parable for concluding this volume:As we crossed the bridge in the dark, we barely avoided stepping into a gaping hole in the deck half way across. A person could easily fall through. I reacted as a typical American, immediately taking responsibility for doing something about the problem, looking for some board to place over the hole or a barrier to warn pedestrians or someone to report the hazard to who would address it promptly. Polina indicated that no Russian would make such a fuss, and she could think of no one to report the hazard to who would respond. As we stood discussing this problem before two of the guardian lions, a group of drunken soldiers began to cross the bridge from the far side, arm in arm, singing loudly. Sure enough, one slipped through the hole and, but for his comrades holding his arms, he would have plunged into the canal. Surely they will report it, I said, but Polina was doubtful. She saw little chance for some protective action to fix the bridge or even to warn passers-by to beware. We went on our way mindful of the problem left behind. Perhaps a month after my return to the U.S., I received an email from Polina that she had gone to the bridge and, to her surprise, it was fixed. “Perhaps,” she wrote, “there is hope for Russia after all.”
Volgograd, Russia, my home for most of my life, was entirely rebuilt after World War II. Under its prior name, Stalingrad, the city was the epicenter for what many believe…
Volgograd, Russia, my home for most of my life, was entirely rebuilt after World War II. Under its prior name, Stalingrad, the city was the epicenter for what many believe was the most crucial battle in the entire war. That battle came at the cost of many millions dead and wounded and the destruction of all but one shell of a building. From this oblivion, a new city arose under the direct order of Stalin, who mobilized captured German engineers for the task. Following his concept of planning, the city would be long and narrow, hugging the banks of the mighty Volga River for some 80km. The width would involve only two main thoroughfares with side streets. The narrow profile would allow for farms and dachas to be close by on one side and the river on the other, providing bounteous and accessible food. Residences were organized in neighborhoods formed around key enterprises lining the river to meet their needs for water. The neighborhood designs allowed workers to easily walk to work. It was a truly utopian scheme.
Lyudmila V. Smirnova and Michael R. Edelstein
In the cold war era, perhaps there were no greater heroes of the Soviet Union than the as many as 700,000 firefighters, workers, and military personnel who fought the…
In the cold war era, perhaps there were no greater heroes of the Soviet Union than the as many as 700,000 firefighters, workers, and military personnel who fought the blazing fires at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor that burned out of control for months until smothered by a makeshift concrete structure, called the “sarcophagus” built to contain radioactive releases. Whether this sarcophagus will last as long as the Egyptian monuments, its name evokes has been a matter of grave continuing concern. And it is doubtful that its symbolism as a lasting evidence of 20th century life will be equally appreciated through the ages. But in April 26, 1986, northern Europe had been placed in dire peril by the catastrophic accident in the number 4 reactor at Chernobyl. Smoke pouring from the fires lofted high in the sky to carry radioactive contaminants eventually across the Northern Hemisphere. Some 100 million curies of radiation were released within 10 days of the initial explosion, comprising the word's worst civilian radiation release (Lawrence Livermore, 1999). And, the reactor threatened to unleash a nuclear explosion that would have dwarfed the effects of what already was the world's worst nuclear accident. The situation demanded extreme sacrifice (see also Zykova, this volume).
Tatyana J. Andrushchenko is dean of the School of Psychology and Social Work, head of the Department of Social Work and professor of psychology at Volgograd State…
Tatyana J. Andrushchenko is dean of the School of Psychology and Social Work, head of the Department of Social Work and professor of psychology at Volgograd State Pedagogical University. Dr. Andrushenko earned her Ph.D. in Psychology from the Russian Federation Education Academy, Institute of Psychology. Her primary work is in child development, counselling methods, interpersonal communication, and the evaluation of social psychological services. She has participated in exchange programs in Denmark, the Netherlands, and the US. email@example.com
Sustainability is a catch term for the different way of life required to counter the ills of the modern era. It encompasses new social and economic as well as ecological…
Sustainability is a catch term for the different way of life required to counter the ills of the modern era. It encompasses new social and economic as well as ecological relationships. Sustainability theory is, by its nature, hopeful in envisioning an alternative corrective course of action. This volume deals with “the negative legacy problem” that confounds this optimism because we have so profoundly contaminated and altered the earth in lasting ways. Any effort to create a sustainable future will have to deal with this legacy. It is a huge and profound burden faced unevenly by people and non-humans today and that we have left for future generations (see Edelstein, 2006).
How are identified instances of contamination addressed, assuming they have been identified and disclosed? The U.S. has evolved an activist ethos with regard to…
How are identified instances of contamination addressed, assuming they have been identified and disclosed? The U.S. has evolved an activist ethos with regard to contamination – both in terms of identifying it and, in the case of identified contamination, taking some engineering action to remediate the hazard. In Chapter 13, A Grassroots Perspective on the Brownfields and Superfund Programs, veteran New Jersey grassroots leader Madelyn Hoffman offers a thorough review of the Superfund program that, since 1980s, has guided U.S. cleanup of sites identified as contaminated at a threshold demanding remediation. She provides a detailed overview of the process identifying the problem and for developing and comparing alternative approaches for remediation. Public involvement is integral to this process, as is the assessment of health risks for local populations. Hoffman also describes the more recent process of Brownfields remediation added as an adjunct to Superfund to more speedily return contaminated lands to productive use. If Superfund has been the subject of political opposition for its regulations, costs and for tying up property, Brownfields offers the political remedy by streamlining cleanup in order to foster reuse. The downside of this streamlined mitigation, however, as Hoffman stresses, may be the sacrifice in the quality of restoring the contaminated land, leading to future toxic exposures. Finally, throughout her discussion, Hoffman stresses the vital role of the grassroots network of organizations in the U.S. that “watchdog” local environments. Under the leadership of Lois Marie Gibbs, this grassroots network has become a force fighting for environmental cleanup and supporting newly discovered contaminated communities as they grapple with the attendant issues. In this view, it is the combination of laws and regulations and political will with an active level of citizen oversight and participation that makes the environmental cleanup process work.
What can we learn about cultures of contamination from our comparison of Russia and the United States? Three final chapters offer some perspective.
Margaret Gibbs, Tatyana J. Andrushchenko, Natalya Makarevich and Robert Binford
The chapter compares the factors involved in environmental altruism, the willingness to involve oneself in working for environmental and ecological goals, in Russia and…
The chapter compares the factors involved in environmental altruism, the willingness to involve oneself in working for environmental and ecological goals, in Russia and the United States. The lead authors developed the idea for the research from their participation in the grant from the Trust for Mutual Understanding, examining how Russia and the United States deal with contamination in their communities. We were the only clinical psychologists in the group that toured in Russia, and we both taught young people at universities, sometimes in courses that dealt specifically about the environment, but more usually in courses that helped prepare them for their roles as psychologists. Because of our clinical perspective, we had several discussions about the role of the individual in dealing with the environment. The role of the individual is particularly critical to environmental issues in Russia. Although Russia has even more strict environmental laws than the United States, its level of enforcement has been minimal. At the same time, environmental activism is a relatively new phenomenon there and it faces cultural and social barriers. While activism plays a major role in the United States to keep the system functioning, efforts to deal with contamination in the United States generally occur on a political and legal level in the context of creating and enforcing laws. While the U.S. activists are hardly satisfied with the system's functioning, a greater level of creativity and commitment is needed from Russian environmental activists to help the nation even reach this level of routine enforcement of environmental laws.