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|We Can’t Be Killed or, Russia’s Radioactive Paradise|
May. 17th, 2010 at 10:29 am
I picked up this book at the library the other day called “Wormwood Forest” by Mary Mycio, an American reporter of Ukraine descent. Ukranian? I wish I could say I’m reading it and as far as possible, I am reading it, but it’s pretty scientific and technical and I’ve skipped parts that are simply beyond my understanding. Numbers relating to types of radioactive penetration, etc.
She lives in Kiev and was allowed into ground zero, donning protective gear and carrying a dossimeter. With a friend and various guides, Mary explored villages (where people still live!), forests, former farmlands, and walked on grass planted over mounds of radioactive equipment covered by tons of dirt. The whole place is fully of radiation.
The big news here is that the whole place is thriving—trees, flowers, bugs, birds and all kinds of wildlife. People are alive around Chernobyl. Did you guys know that radiation sort of evaporates into the air and gradually just depletes altogether?
The elk—I think that’s what they mean by “red deer”–and the moose population is huge around Chernobyl. Birds are all over the place, although she reports the stork population has gone downhill because storks like to live around farms and human population. Trees are growing, many stunted and deformed. But there’s life. She said that the animals that are born mutated don’t live so the very strongest have survived. Everything’s radioactive–the radioactive deer eat from radioactive meadows, but they’re alive and jumping all over the place.
The young people of the area around Chernobyl–Ukraine & Belarus both lay claim to infected parts of the area—have mostly left. Of course people died, of the leukemia and thyroid cancer, long term, and radiation sickness, short term. She hasn’t mentioned young couples with babies. Some of the people living the area buy their food from traveling shops, avoiding contamination. Others, who live in rather slovenly conditions, eat mushroom, blueberries and other native vegetation growing in abundance (and, she says, are beautiful, tempting, and reeking of radiation).
Putting aside my faith in God, who will ultimately determine what happens to this planet Earth, global warming or no, it seems clear to me that life—if not life as we know it—can’t be totally destroyed. Trees and flowers are growing on Mt. St. Helen’s. We had a terrible fire just south of us that burned acres of forest by the freeway. It jumped the road and as we drive down to St. George, you can see the devastation. But things are growing back. The earth re-generates.
People live in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I have no clue how many died there, surely hundreds of thousands, but many lived. Life went on. I could say wildlife continues to overcome nature’s obstacles, plants and trees survive, change and prosper, but guess what? People are part of earth’s wildlife, we just think we’re more civilized. Many die, many mutate, but we survive. Death by disaster is a natural part of life, even if the disaster is man-made. But I’m not as worried as I was before I picked up this book. I could die in an atomic bomb attack. But I could live. Maybe I wouldn’t live well. Maybe I would live a shorter life, living on radioactive green beans and eating radioactive fish—we could all be radioactive together. But, bottom line, we can’t (all) be killed.