Coal is big business for Russia’s Far East. Unaffected by sanctions and with a hungry Asian market on its doorstep, coal exports through the country’s Pacific ports are booming.
Although trade in coal is providing a welcome boost to the region’s struggling economy, it is having a devastating effect on both the environment and health of its inhabitants. One problem in particular is the pollution caused by the open transport and storage of coal as it makes its way to the ports. Transporting coal in this way releases a huge amount of harmful coal dust into the air.
In the winter, the result of this airborne pollution is particularly acute. The black coal dust combines with the falling snow and turns it black. This filthy snow then falls on the ground indiscriminately, not only near the ports and transport hubs, but also all over residential and public areas.
One of the Prague Civil Society Centre’s art residents, Valentina Konovalova, teamed up with Russian NGO Eco Defense and the Stop Coal campaign to create a short animation to bring home how this coal dust affects the environment and people’s health.
The cartoon, ‘Come back white snow!’ is illustrated in stark black and white and shows coal dust combining with falling snow to turn an idyllic winter scene black. A child, delighted to see the snow runs out to play, coughing but still managing to make snow angles and skate on the black landscape. The juxtaposition of the innocent child playing in a dirty and polluted landscape is striking, and drives home the problem in a fresh and easily understandable way.
The animation will be released to the general public later this year but has already received over 6000 views through its release on special groups on the Russian social network sites Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki.