Ecocide in the USSR: Health and Nature under Siege

Ecocide in the USSR: Health and Nature under Siege

Ecocide in the USSR: Health and Nature under Siege

Ecocide in the USSR: Health and Nature under Siege

Excerpt

As it broke down, the Soviet Union opened up. Our book, while an examination of some of the factors and forces responsible for the political and economic collapse, is in many ways a product of the information revolution that preceded and propelled the disintegration. We have tried to use layman's language both to describe the disastrous consequences of health and environmental policies on the Soviet people and to document the protests against those policies that gathered mounting force in the Gorbachev years. The story is drawn in the main from Soviet sources which, but for glasnost, would have been inaccessible. We owe a major debt to the journalists, scientists and citizen‐ activists who compiled the public record on ecological and health conditions in the USSR and who, in a number of cases, explained their work and their findings to us in person.

The core of the book, however, is scholarly research, the work of a professional lifetime spent ferreting out and analyzing the grudging flow of often suspect Soviet data about labor, fertility, mortality, education, migration, welfare and military manpower. Those studies by Dr. Feshbach led to significant discoveries: the rising rates of infant mortality in the 1970s and the official effort to conceal the facts; the high birth rates of Muslims in Central Asia that, along with their low mobility, foreshadowed labor and ethnic imbalances as likely sources of social, economic, military and political tensions. The 1978 publication of a courageous samizdat work on environmental abuse—The Destruction of Nature, written by Ze'ev Wolfson under the pseudonym of Boris . . .

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