Why is North Korea’s environment in a state of collapse? Well it is not due to
global warming, global climate change weather weirding or what ever the new evasive title is. From the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) “Nova” program titled “Inside North Korea’s Environmental Collapse” we learn this:
“North Korea has been hiding something. Something beyond its prison camps, its nuclear facilities, its pervasive poverty, its aching famine, its lack of energy—electrical, fossil, or otherwise. What the hermit kingdom has been covering up is perhaps more fundamental than all of those: an environmental collapse so severe it could destabilize the entire country. Or at least, it was hiding it.”
What initiated the collapse? Nova had this to say:
“North Korea’s isolation means detailed data on environmental conditions are hard to come by. However, a 2004 study by the Korea Environment Institute based in Seoul, South Korea, reports that forest cover in North Korea dropped by 17 percent from the 1970s to the late 1990s. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, which provided oil to its communist ally at a discounted “friendship price,” oil imports dropped by 60 percent. Unsurprisingly, the use of firewood for heating more than doubled.
(North Korean soldiers hauling firewood back to base. Fuel for heating is scarce, so many rely on what wood they can find, including, apparently, the normally well-supplied Korean People’s Army.)
“What resulted was an increasingly barren landscape. Even saplings are felled for fuel, stripping forests of their ability to regenerate. “They don’t have trees to hold the soil,” says Jinsuk Byun of Sookmyung Women’s University in Seoul. Byun was not a part of the recent delegation but has closely followed environmental conditions in the country. “When it rains the soil washes into the river, landslides occur and rivers flood. It triggers a really serious disaster.”
(Farmers preparing a field for the planting season outside Wonsan, North Korea, in the shadow of a denuded hillside.)
And this satellite photo from drroyspencer.com posting, “Is North Korea Cutting Down All Its Trees?
The Nova program cites loss of wildlife as follows:
” The lack of birds and other small animals noted by the scientists on their recent visit are a direct result of the famine in the 1990s, Demick says. “The frogs disappeared because everyone caught the frogs,” Demick says. “You see many fewer birds and small animals in North Korea than other countries. People living near the sea ate seaweed but that also ran out.”
Energy to heat homes. Energy to provide light . Energy to power the equipment to farm and do other forms of manufacturing. The supply of fossil fuels is not sufficient to support the North Korean population. This is a lesson for those who believe the world can manage without the use of fossil fuels. Someday, perhaps it will, but alternative forms of energy–wind farm, solar cells and biofuels are not ready for prime time, so be careful for what you wish.
In this case the North Korea leaders, present and past, are just plain crazy—- imposing a dictatorship that controls all aspects of the lives of the people. As the North Koreans are the same people as their cousins in South Korea, one would expect if the government quit regulating every aspect of their lives, they might be able to restore North Korea. Open up the country and spend the countries money on fossil fuels (energy) and stop spending it on nukes.