news and views – The Wolves of Chernobyl

Chernobyl. The word is enough to terrify little children and environmentalists alike. Visions of nuclear meltdown and the end of the world as we know it are relayed as a cautionary tale over and over when we talk about alternative energy sources. I was reminded of it recently in a discussion on influential moments for each generation, and again when I ran across some of these photos on Pinterest.

I remembered reading an article a while back about how nature was reclaiming the area, so I decided to dig a little deeper and see if there was any update on how the animals were doing. What I found was startlingly good news, and a new documentary on PBS which is now airing.

In 1986 a nuclear meltdown at the infamous Chernobyl power plant in present-day Ukraine left miles of land in radioactive ruins. Residents living in areas most contaminated by the disaster were evacuated and relocated by government order, and a no-man’s land of our own making was left to its own devices. In the ensuing 25 years, forests, marshes, fields and rivers reclaimed the land, reversing the effects of hundreds of years of human development. And surprisingly, this exclusion zone, or “dead zone,” has become a kind of post-nuclear Eden, populated by beaver and bison, horses and birds, fish and falcons – and ruled by wolves.

While I realize this partially gives away the ending, I have to share that I watched it and found it to be powerfully uplifting. If you have access to PBS and want to see a lovely silver lining to what was one of the greatest catastrophies of my generation, check it out. We could all use a little bit of good news these days, couldn’t we?

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  1. I watched the PBS show and so happy to read this article. Merry Samhain Eve to all the wolves out there.