Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Our Piggish Sea

I saw a documentary on SvtPlay the other day. And it has been in my mind ever since. It was so alarming that I cannot get it out of my mind. And the saddest part of it all is that I was already aware of these things... its just that my mind had not been confronted with the visual images. And now I cannot get it out of my mind. It feels like the documentary destroyed all my planned sunny beach days this summer.

The program was about the Baltic Sea and its poor environmental status. It was about the regulations and the goals among the countries around the Baltic Sea to stop polluting the sea and then the real world images. The program showed a Polish village, off the coast of the Baltic Sea, a local villager (the only one to agree to be interviewed, a young lady) that does not swim in the local lakes, and the reason why she does not do it: A tremendous swine farm (owners from Unites States) who spread out the swine's "leftovers" all over the fields, in amounts that are not allowed. Nobody cared , except a "crazy" old man calling around trying to get the police to intervene. And it gets worse... in Belarus, a country that is not even on the Baltic Sea coastal line, there swine and poultry production is booming. But do you think they have been building any treatment facilities in this authoritarian state? Nope, still the old goldies from communist times... Capacity long overexceeded. Then to our nextdoor neighbour, Northern Europe's Venice: St Petersburg. Good news: the city of 5 million inhabitants nowadays clean their waste water instead of letting it poor directly into the Baltic Sea. Halleluja, and thanks to Nordic investment funds for such progress. But does this help when in the outskirts of the city the poultry business is booming and these facilities, among the largest in the world (!!!), just ship off the shitty leftovers into nearby forests, contaminating all rivers running out into the Baltic Sea.

It feels hopeless to see the reaction of the local business leaders. Enviromental values is not even a concept in their world. Some of them say that fish die, not because of too many nutrients in the water, but actually too little!!! Others blame the EU... European competitors get funds from EU to build treatment facilities while these Russian entrepreneurs cannot afford such investments, poor as they are...and probably unprofitable as well. Politicians do something! Then today I hear a Russian old lady say to the news that she does not care to vote, because her opinion does not count. This comment had nothing to do with the documentary but it still made me understand that I cannot count on the Russian politicians (nor the Belarus or the Polish) to do something about this disaster that is turning our beautiful sea into a stinking pond of shit.

So who can do something? Why do we have international agreements if some countries literally do not give a shit about them? And why do Finnish and Swedish summer cottage owners have to do expensive investments in their wastewater treatment if that is just a tiny tiny tiny part of the whole problem. It just makes me so sad.

You can see the program here: Vårt grisiga hav.

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