Blog Action Day - Nature Lessons in Chernobyl
Today is Blog Action Day, and this year's topic is the environment. In keeping with this theme, I want to discuss the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and it's current status.
It has been over 21 years since the nuclear accident at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine. After the accident, an area within 30 kilometers of the plant was designated as the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. The area is still contaminated and considered unfit for human habitation.
Even though above normal levels of radiation continue to persist throughout the area, nature has started to reclaim the land. As you have probably seen in photographs all over the internet, this place is not a nuclear wasteland, but an area almost overrun with foliage.
The massive amounts of vegetation can be attributed more to the lack of human intervention that to the surrounding radiation. With the exception of approximately 300 elderly people who returned to their homes in the Zone, the area is unpopulated. The only other people in the Zone are Chernobyl plant workers, and scientists and researchers.
Roads in the Zone are not maintained. Lawns are not mowed. Buildings are not maintained. As a result, grass, weeds, and moss have grown in the pavement. Trees grow wildly, making formerly wide streets look like small paths. In the summer, if you walk in Pripyat, a city that used to be home to almost 50,000 people, it is difficult to see many of the buildings from the street.
If there is anything people can learn from the Chernobyl area, it is that humans cause more problems to the environment than anything else in the world. Nature is extremely strong and resilient, but it doesn't stand a chance when humans continue to expand their civilization at an astonishing rate. Chernobyl proves that the Earth can reclaim the land, if we let it. I am not proposing that we all go back to living in caves, but it is time that we stop this crazed expansion and carefully consider our next steps before we destroy the planet. And we better do this soon, because we have nowhere left to go.