Triggered by the country’s worst heat wave in over a century, forest and peat bog fires in Russia continue to blaze, with over 50 lives that have been lost so far and thousands of people homeless. In the capital city of Moscow, smoke from the fires has quadrupled carbon monoxide levels and seriously impaired residents’ breathing, causing hundreds to seek medical attention with flights that have been disrupted as well.
As the flames most recently moved south of Moscow, they have approached the area of the calamitous 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident. Russian Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoygu said that if the fires keep spreading into the Bryansk region of the Chernobyl site, the radionuclide and combustible gases that had been buried underground may be released, thus forming a new dangerous pollution zone.
Experts estimate that the 1986 Chernobyl disaster caused up to half a million fatalities in and around Russia due to cancers, with other contamination effects being seen to this day.
Considered the worst nuclear accident in history, the Chernobyl event 20 years ago also influenced other countries’ policies. A referendum in Italy, for example, resulted in the shut-down of its nuclear industry at the time, while countries such as Germany and Denmark boosted efforts to develop safer sustainable energy resources like wind power.
With our sadness for the lives lost, we thank the Russian government and all the courageous firefighters for your efforts to contain the flames safely. Our prayers for the blessing of cool showers that help restore stability for residents across the land and that such disasters are averted through our harmonious, life-protecting ways.
During a 2008 videoconference in South Korea, Supreme Master Ching Hai spoke of the range of environmental problems faced by humanity, highlighting at the same time practical solutions for a secure future.