By: Niki Lee Carlson, Graduate Student, University of Minnesota
One of the world's largest concentrations of brownfields exists in a region which contains parts of southwest Poland, the former East Germany, and North Bohemia, aptly known as the Black Triangle. Blame for this environmental devastation falls on communist coal consumption from 1948 to 1989, the impact of which was not only deforestation but also an explosion in the number of cancer cases in the region. This environmental egradation was so severe that it stimulated grassroots political action and motivated, in part, the revolutions that brought the Warsaw Pact to an end. With the fall of communism came massive layoffs and the closure of the largest tracts of factories and storage facilities in Europe.1 Today, although these nations are fully integrated in the global economy, they have only just begun to address the environmental and economic impacts of these brownfields.
Guben, Germany. A power plant near the Polish border set near a recreational corridor.
A third year MLA student at the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture , Carlson is also a first year student in the Humphrey Institute's Master of Science, Technology and Environmental Policy program.