Karabash, The Most Polluted City I Have Ever Seen

Olga Ibatullina

     Everyone in the world knows that environmental pollution seriously harms the planet. Only in recent times has society thought about the harmful impact of modern technologies, but in the past people exploited natural resources and didn't care about the environment. Russia has the greatest amount of natural minerals such as gas, oil and various metals. Extracting and processing them can seriously damage huge areas. The small Russian town of Karabash south of the Ural Mountains was known as the dirtiest city in the world in the 1990s. Karabash had a large copper smelting center with no system for cleaning up waste. It's unbelievable how deadly this human activity became. This center polluted the air and soil in a short period of time, destroying most living species and causing serious health problems.

    All living things on Earth are related to each other, and the most vulnerable plants and animals may disappear due to human activity. Such environmental devastation occurred in the city of Karabash. I have been there only one time, but the scenes I observed will stay in my mind forever. Many years in a row the factories littered the environment with industrial garbage, which led to disaster. The beautiful green lands turned into ugly dead landscapes. Giant mountains of black and red waste were created by those factories. The rivers carried muddy orange water. The soil was poisoned, and the air smelled and tasted like the whole periodic table of the chemical elements. All plants and animals in this place were killed by consistent acid rain and polluted winds, and nothing could survive there. There were no birds, no flowers, no living things, and the only remembrance of life I saw there were lonely black stems sticking out of copper lakes. I was a young girl, and I felt both surprised and frightened. I thought I had found myself in a scary apocalyptic movie, but since I knew this destruction was a man-created apocalypse, the site filled me with sadness and anxiety. At the same time it was tough to believe that people could live there. However, they did live there, and that was another issue.

    These terrible environmental changes definitely affected people's health. Many factory workers continued living and working there alone with their families and risked getting different illnesses. The general health condition of the population became worse. Meanwhile the amount of chronic pain such as bodily weakness and headache increased day by day. But the polluted air caused much more serious illnesses than weakness and headaches; many people developed respiratory problems, and they were even diagnosed with lung cancer. A lot of adults couldn't have babies since their reproductive systems were compromised. Children who were born in this place had birth defects or infirmities such as allergy and skin sores, and all health issues that affected adults, to a greater extent, affected children. This region had the highest level of child mortality in Russia. The Karabash copper-melting factories had been polluting the air and the soil for almost one hundred years, and nobody cared about nature. However, it was predictable that such human industrial activity would cause harm not only to the environment but also to people's lives, health and well-being.

     In conclusion, a society must never forget about its important role in interaction with nature. Irresponsible behavior always leads to bad effects. Severe environmental pollution can contribute to the disappearance of many living organisms, even people. Only humans on this planet are able to think, while nature can only respond to the results of human actions. Humans have only one planet in the universe for living, and who knows how long this planet will withstand such active destruction and remain viable.