So began an email from a long-time friend who I hadn’t heard from in a while. I hope I don’t have any radiation issues either. The Japanese government and TEPCO, the electric company running the Fukushima nuclear plants, have been less transparent and forthcoming with information than they should be. That said, I’ve confirmed that at least where I am living there are no serious radiation issues (my barber said he had his friend who had a radiation detector come by his shop and measure the levels). The area around the Fukushima plant is, of course, still off limits and will be for the next several decades. That leads to the question: what actually happens to a radioactive area when humans leave? A recent Nature program attempts to answer that.
It’s an interesting program about Chernobyl and how wildlife is thriving in the area even with the higher radiation levels. Since humans have left, wildlife has re-taken the region and actually slowly healed the damage humans did when they cultivated the area. Forests that were cut for farmland are now regrowing. Streams that were diverted into canals are starting to flow more freely and marshes that were drained are flooding again as beavers create dams like they once did. Human’s still can’t live there but somehow the animals do, especially wolves. They’ve been surging in number as their predators (humans) stay away and their prey (all forms of wildlife) return. Each generation has a small percent that is affected by birth defects from the radiation but overall the population of wolves, and other animals in general, is very healthy and thriving in the absence of humans. Hmmm…makes you wonder when nature does better in an area saturated in radiation than an area overrun by humans.
The show is worth watching, and a little eerie, if you have the time.