It may be hard to believe, but wildlife is thriving in the area that was affected by the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster in April 1986. The Exclusion Zone in the area closest to the explosion at the plant faced “long-term ecological damage” according to a recent article on Motherboard. But the interesting thing, as reported by Current Biology, is that wildlife is currently thriving in the area that was abandoned all those years ago, and the reason has little to do with radiation:
“The wildlife at Chernobyl is very likely better than it was before the accident, not because radiation is good for animals, but because human occupation is much worse,” Smith told me over email.
“We were trying to emphasize that this study is a remarkable illustration of an obvious, but important message,” he said. “It is ordinary human habitation and use (farming, forestry, hunting) of land which does most ecological damage.”
As it turns out, humans are the biggest “pressure” on the wildlife population. And now that population is thriving in a place where there are no humans, but there is deadly radioactive ooze that will kill you within 300 seconds of exposure. It is crazy, but makes a lot of sense. People are actively interacting with the animal populations around their homes and the needs of survival are going to come into play.
That said, knowing we’re worse than one of the worst disasters in history is a little deflating. Just a smidge.