EDITOR’S NOTE: We are very excited to share the travels of Simi Hamilton’s family to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing dispatches from Ruthie Brown and family as they give you a first-hand, “behind-the-scenes” look at the Olympics.
“The Sochi Winter Olympics will also become the “greenest” games in history. Russia’s use of environmentally friendly building materials and renewable sources of energy, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, will ensure that the 2014 Olympics are climate neutral”. So reads the material posted in every train, pamphlet etc...
Really? Maybe shades of light, light, green turning brown. There is not much environmental conscience in Russia. Essentially what the US did to our air, water and land in a century of rape and pillage to reach our present life of luxury and consumption, the Russian have done in 4 years. Miles of riparian area were plowed under to build infrastructure for the transportation corridors and instant villages (just add water), huge swath of eroded stream bank spill all kinds of sediment and trash directly into the rivers and massive power lines are perched on every horizon. Heat is turned up to max in every building and immense buildings sit empty. Construction is shabby at best. After the Olympics, who will come here to use all of this? Not the Europeans, certainly not the Americans and if they expect the Russians to come...they are going to have to figure out some capitalistic system so they can afford it. Everything is outrageously expensive. In our short time here, we have consumed thousands of plastic water bottles (water is not safe to drink) that get thrown into the trash. Don’t see any sign of reduce, reuse, recycle. Where does all this waste go? It is going to be difficult to sustain this system.
But for now, we’re happy turning a blind eye and enjoy the Games. There are thousands of wonderful volunteers who have made this possible. In fact, 25,000. They usually don’t speak English but are always willing to help. We’ve crossed cultures and made friends with so many. The Russians love the American and always stop us to ask “make photo with me?” We hope this is a sign for future relationships!