GOOD

In Chernobyl, Wildlife Thrives Once Humans are Gone

Decades after the worst nuclear accident of all time, new research suggests the evacuated forests around Chernobyl are home to more animals than ever.

image via (cc) flickr user arcticwoof

When the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant caught fire and exploded on April 26, 1986, the release of irradiated gas into the atmosphere above Ukraine ensured that the name “Chernobyl” would forever be synonymous with the catastrophic dangers of atomic energy. Now, nearly thirty years after the accident, with billions of dollars spent, and dozens of lives lost, the entirely evacuated area around the plant–known as the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone–has become an unexpected haven for wildlife. In fact, new research indicates that, despite the massive amount of radiation expelled from the Chernobyl facilities during the accident, animals living in the area around the abandoned power plant are not only surviving–they’re thriving.


Entitled “Long-term census data reveal abundant wildlife populations at Chernobyl,” a paper published this week in Current Biology magazine reports that deer, boar, and elk populations in the immediate vicinity of Chernobyl are comparable with population levels outside the exclusion zone. The number of wolves, however, is seven times more than in neighboring areas. In the paper’s introduction, the researchers write:

image via (cc) flickr user lord_yo

Relative abundances of elk, roe deer, red deer and wild boar within the Chernobyl exclusion zone are similar to those in four (uncontaminated) nature reserves in the region and wolf abundance is more than 7 times higher. Additionally, our earlier helicopter survey data show rising trends in elk, roe deer and wild boar abundances from one to ten years post-accident. These results demonstrate for the first time that, regardless of potential radiation effects on individual animals, the Chernobyl exclusion zone supports an abundant mammal community after nearly three decades of chronic radiation exposures.

While radiation from the Chernobyl may still have an adverse effect on individual animals, the overall population levels for wildlife in the area are either unaffected, or in some cases have exponentially grown it the years following the catastrophe. Why? The study’s authors offer a shockingly simple explanation.

There are no human beings.

“It's very likely that wildlife numbers at Chernobyl are much higher than they were before the accident,” explained Portsmouth University Professor Jim Smith, the study’s lead author, in a release. “This doesn't mean radiation is good for wildlife, just that the effects of human habitation, including hunting, farming, and forestry, are a lot worse.” Speaking with Agence France-Presse, study co-author and University of Georgia professor Jim Beasley, concurred, saying: “These unique data showing a wide range of animals thriving within miles of a major nuclear accident illustrate the resilience of wildlife populations when freed from the pressures of human habitation.”

Encouraging as the study’s results may be for Chernobyl specifically, the resurgence in wildlife may also offer clues for how best to deal with other nuclear disasters, such as the one which took place at Japan’s Fukushima power plant in 2011. Ultimately, it seems as if the best thing human beings can do to help wildlife recover after major catastrophic events might be to simply let nature run its course, without us.

[via motherboard]

Articles
via Honor Africans / Twitter

The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

Keep Reading Show less

Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.





Culture
Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet