Ah, the Olympics. I confess to enjoying the view, but unfortunately the Olympic view is anything but helpful to the environment. The winter games, especially look beautiful, but think about it for a minute. What happens when, as in Russia, they decide they just have to build a whole new city landscape to host them. Try illegal landfills and trashed ecosystems. Try jail...
Grist writes about the Sochi games:
Not only is this shaping up to be the most expensive Olympics in the history of the games, with $51 billion of new development, it is also arguably one of the most destructive. Five thousand acres of pristine forests have been felled, while wetlands that served as important stopovers for migrating birds have been filled in. Landslides and waste dumping threaten the watershed, which feeds into the Black Sea. Building within national parks in Russia used to be limited, but that regulation was reversed in order to make way for some games facilities, hotels, and roads. Some observers note that the Olympics have provided an opportunity for developers to cash in on what they hope will be a profitable tourist destination in the future.
The construction projects have also left local Sochi-ers in the lurch, facing frequent power shortages, land subsidence, flooding, and widespread pollution.
The Winter Games have led to wrecked habitat, demolished forests polluted water reservoirs,destroyed wildlife populations and more. The Mzymta, Sochi's largest river, which flows from a lake in a Caucasus reserve down to the Black Sea, has been profaned. Even Yahoo Sports noticed:
A road and a railway were built along its undeveloped left bank, connecting Sochi's airport with Olympic skiing venues upstream.
Of the damage done to Sochi's wilderness, "the river is the biggest shame," said Igor Chestin, head of WWF in Russia.
The river is the spawning site of one-fifth of Russia's valuable Black Sea salmon.
"Its value as a fishery has been lost due to the change of the shape of the river, and years of pollution" since Sochi was picked as the 2014 Winter Olympics host in 2007, Chestin said.
In a interview with TIME, Suren Gazaryan, a zoologist and member of the environmental campaign group, Environmental Watch of the North Caucasus (EWNC), said that “Sochiorganizers have failed on all their green promises.” Gazaryan explains, that the “construction process for the Games has been hugely damaging for the region. He and the ENWC have documented evidence of illegal waste dumping, construction that has blocked the migration routes of animals such as the brown bear, limited access to drinking water for locals and a generally decreased quality of life for many in the city of Sochi.”
The damage done to the Mzymta, Sochi’s largest river, which flows from a lake in a Caucasus reserve down to the Black Sea is “the biggest shame,” said Igor Chestin, head of the Russian chapter, of the World Wildlife Federation (WWF). The river was the spawning site of many Black Sea salmon, which have now disappeared, or died as a result of water contamination.
“The most dangerous and important part of the damage is the biodiversity lost in the area,” says Gazaryan. “Parts of the national park have been completely destroyed. This area was the most diverse in terms of plant and animal life in Russia.” Official reports by Sochi National Park show that brown bears, and various reptiles, can no longer be found in the area.
In an attempt to try and compensate for the destruction of the land, and the homes of its wildlife, Russia created an Ornithological Park, and planted 1.5 million new trees – three for every one that was cut down in the Sochi National Park, to make way for Olympic sites. Gazaryan says that much of the planting programme had been “pointless.” “The planting could never substitute for the loss of established forest, which is a complex ecosystem,” says Gazaryan. “[T]hese are ecosystems, not a Lego set that you can take apart and then rebuild somewhere else.”
“It’s a profanation,” said Vladimir Zubakin, president of the Russian Bird Union (RBUC), of the human made park. The wetlands were a paradise for up to 65 species of birds, but now the former wetlands lie buried under two metres (6.5 feet) of crushed rock. “They have been lost to the Olympic steamroller,” said Zubakin. “They say it looks pretty now, but birds actually prefer mud.”
I can't go on.
Russia is not interested in hearing about any of this. Well, let's not blame all of Russia, let's blame the Putin government and all of his Big Capital buddies.
The following is from Generation Progress.
SOCHI OLYMPIC GAMES' BIGGEST LOSER-THE ENVIRONMENT