During Stalin’s reign in the USSR, it is safe to say that certain aspects of society were neglected. One important concept that did not receive the attention that it deserved was the idea of environmental conservation. Due to Stalin’s great emphasis on the industrialization of the Soviet Union, environmental issues were not properly acknowledged. Lake Baikal is a prime example of the devastating impacts of environmental neglect.
Located in Southeastern Siberia, Lake Baikal is the world’s largest freshwater body of water. This body of water is so massive that it accounts for 20 percent of the world’s freshwater. The lake is home to 1200 different species of animals and 1000 species of plants according to this subject essay. Lake Baikal holds historical significance as well, regarded as being sacred to early Russians who colonized the area in the 1600s.
Industrialization, an important goal of Stalin, took devastating tolls on the lake. Because of the lake’s abundance of natural resources, oil and mineral exploration and lumbering projects were numerous. During the war and due to the relative dangerous conditions in cities, factories were built on the lake to provide safety for these installments. The Baikal-Amur Mainline and the Baikal Pulp and Paper Plant were among the most destructive of the industrial installations. The construction of the railway and the waste from the paper plant progressively polluted the lake, and turned the historically clear waters of Lake Baikal into a murky mess. Before the extent of environmental neglect of the lake obvious and undeniable, the impacts of industrialization were debated and many speculated on the affects factories would have on the lake. One such article outlines the thoughts and predictions of such effects.
Due to the Soviet Union’s notorious reputation of political repression, Russian environmentalists’ concerns for Lake Baikal were completely ignored. A lot of the opposition for the environmental neglect of the lake was voiced in the official press. The neglect of the lake united and mobilized citizens in their concerns for the environment.