Natural Hazards Again

Looking across the street, I can see that there’s something extra in the air between where I sit and the house on the other side of the street.

Helsinki is getting smoke from forest fires in Russia again. (Helsingin Sanomat has a photo.) Late last week was pretty good. The previous weekend was bad.

The smoke is giving me a headache. An STT article last week claimed that the smoke (as of last week) would result in tens of millions of euros in health care costs. STT attributed the estimated to Raimo O. Salonen of The Social Insurance Institution of Finland who based his estimate on the measured levels of small particles in the air and prior EU research on the effects of such particles. He even claimed that the there are (will be?) ten of deaths directly because of the smoke.

Finland has repeatedly offered help to Russia in order to put out the fires. Russia has refused. It is unclear to me whether the help was offered for free or whether Russia was asked to pay for it.

Anyway, the inaction of the Russian government shows that the good old Soviet attitude still rules. If the wind blows away from Moscow, the leadership doesn’t care about the harm to others.

There are cases when it is practical to fix something yourself even if morally someone else should be responsible for taking care of it. Considering the health costs, it would probably make financial sense for Finland to provide help for free and push so that it is accepted. It wouldn’t be the first time that Finnish tax payers end up paying for fixing things on the other side of the border in order to prevent unchecked pollution from floating over here.

Meanwhile in Sweden: There was a forest fire in Sweden, too, and Sweden promptly accepted Finnish help in dealing with it.