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Earth Science

Study Finds Humans Are Worse Than Radiation For Chernobyl Animals 145

derekmead writes: A study published today in Current Biology shows that wildlife in the Chernobyl exclusion zone is actually more abundant than it was before the disaster. According to the authors, led by Portsmouth University professor of environmental science Jim Smith, the recovery is due to the removal of the single biggest pressure on wildlife—humans. "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,” Portsmouth University professor of environmental science Jim Smith says. “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.”
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Study Finds Humans Are Worse Than Radiation For Chernobyl Animals

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  • by MouseR ( 3264 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @07:36PM (#50666007) Homepage

    With just a couple of nukes!

  • The Message (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @07:45PM (#50666079)
    The message is that the real risk of radioactive exposure has been greatly overblown. What is happening (or not happening ) in the Chernobly area is only a surprise to those who believe the anti nuke agenda driven FUD.
    • Re:The Message (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MouseR ( 3264 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @07:51PM (#50666115) Homepage

      I dont think it's overblown. But humans tend to live longer than most wild animals and thus makes us more fragile to the continuing radiated environment.

      Short-lived creatures and short gestation does tend to favour the critters.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        That conjecture has neither scientific basis nor real world evidence. In fact, species with shorter reproduction cycles show sub generational genetic impacts sooner.
        • Re:The Message (Score:5, Interesting)

          by HiThere ( 15173 ) <charleshixsn@earthli n k . net> on Monday October 05, 2015 @08:45PM (#50666543)

          Well, there *is* evidence, but it's hardly conclusive. And how do you rate bacteria?

          OTOH, IIRC there's evidence that rats preferentially avoid areas high in radiation, so perhaps the evidence that exists needs to have behavioral changes factored into it (unless you want to consider that a part of how they avoid damage).

          Yes, the effects show up sooner. This means they are more quickly eliminated from the genepool, so theoretically it makes sense.

          OTOH, when last I visited the topic the evidence was quite weak. So what I'm talking about is science that's probably 40 years old, and wasn't strong then. Is there anything more recent?

          • The science also shows health risks are greater for the young than the old, as they are undergoing growth/cell replication at a high rate.
            • by HiThere ( 15173 )

              Yes, but if you're talking about a species survival in an environment, then cleaning the damage out quick, e.g. via failure to reproduce, should benefit changes of survival. You need to distinguish between the ability of a species to survive in an environment and the ability of an individual. With a greater proportion of the damaged individuals being weeded out every year a higher rate of genetic damage per unit time should be sustainable by the species. This is, of course, going to be quite unpleasant f

              • I think you are right.

                Plus it's perfect setup for adaptation.

                Fresh stock from surrounding areas.
                Mild selective pressures in low radiation zones.
                High selective pressures in high radiation zones.

                30 to 40 generations to adapt.
                High litter sizes for the ones who do well (6 to 9 per birth vs 1:1 for humans)

      • I dont think it's overblown. But humans tend to live longer than most wild animals and thus makes us more fragile to the continuing radiated environment.

        Is that why we develop super powers when we get bit by irradiated animals?

        • by nytes ( 231372 )

          Yes.

          Unfortunately, I was bitten by a radioactive cockroach.

          Now I find myself zipping under furniture every time someone turns on the lights.

      • by Sique ( 173459 )
        It seems that animals living their whole life within the immediate environment of Chernobyl fare much better than for instance migratory birds. While there seem to be no increased gene defects in the local wolfpacks, with migratory birds raising their young in the Chernobyl area, we see heightened gene defects.

        So the jury is still out there. Maybe living from craddle to grave in Chernobyl will be ok, but appearently living abroad and returning once in a while will not.

  • by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @07:51PM (#50666119)
    If we'd just stop inhabiting the planet, hunting, and farming, then the other animals would be better off! Who'd have thought?
    • Wait, we need the hunting, right? We've all heard that hunting is necessary for a healthy population. Surely someone has been hunting at Chernobyl in order for the animals to better off.
      • by Cyberax ( 705495 )
        Chernobyl actually has a robust population of natural hunters (wolves, mostly).
      • by tom229 ( 1640685 )
        Don't be a moron. What you're, almost for sure, referencing is the unfortunate but necessary culling of large wildlife populations in relative urban areas where natural predators no longer exist. That is a very fringe political issue that doesn't need to be trolled through this discussion. Although, I did bite.
  • those crazy Russians....
    • by ksheff ( 2406 )
      yes. Are there any three eyed fish?
    • chernobyl is actually in ukraine, just outside belarus

      it was a soviet disaster (although the soviet union was merely a construct of russian imperialism, so it can be thought of as a russian disaster, so perhaps i'm just tweaking the meaning of your joke)

      but like the holodomor ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] ), and the continuing vivisection of east ukraine and crimea, russians sure do treat their slavic brothers like shit

      • "..russians sure do treat their slavic brothers like shit"

        Highly inaccurate statement. For one, the excuse for the annexation of Crimea was to protect the majority Russian population against the hegemony of the nationalist Ukrainian government. Likewise, there is a big campaign in support of East Ukraine rebels specifically because they fight for the cause of protecting ethnic Russians and their rights. Russians have always supported and still support Serbians in whatever ethnic and territorial disputes the

        • what are you babbling about? are you trying to support the lame excuses of a neoimperial mafia country?

          georgia, ukraine: invaded because they were neighboring weak countries. and russia just takes territory from them. it's living in 1815. the lame ass bullshit excuses for the thugging don't mean one fucking thing, except as a barometer of how many people are ignorant gullible retards who will believe lies

          but russia is failing. it exercises it's military muscle because it is all it has left. but tanks rust,

  • Blowout soon stalkers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 05, 2015 @08:19PM (#50666353)

    Bikini atoll, devastated by a nuclear blast is in great shape, thanks mainly to the lack of people :
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/earthnews/3339485/Marine-life-flourishes-at-Bikini-Atoll-test-site.html
    And certainly in much better conditions compared to Indonesia or the Philippines reefs with no radiation and huge populations.

    Another example is the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, apparently with great wildlife. Again, because of the lack of
    people.

    In the rest of the world, while the human population has doubled from 3.5 B to 7B in only 40years, the wildlife (both marine and non) has halved :
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn26290-worlds-wildlife-population-halved-in-just-40-years.html
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-16/half-marine-life-lost-in-40-years/6779912

    Even the relatively protected Great Barrier Reef has halved its cover in 27 years :
    http://www.scienceinpublic.com.au/wp-content/uploads/Full-PNAS-paper-for-publication.pdf

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @08:27PM (#50666427) Homepage

    It's not farming, building and hunting that hurts the animal population. it's doing it in MASS QUANTITIES from overpopulation.

    The american indians managed the land and it's resources just fine, It's the assholes from europe that wiped out most everything because of stupidity.

    Just like how the Wolf population crashed horribly due to idiot farmers killing every wolf they see because they are too lazy to protect their livestock properly.

    • I agree: http://5050by2150.wordpress.co... [wordpress.com]

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      The american indians managed the land and it's resources just fine,

      Tell that to the mastodon, the American horse, the saber-toothed tiger ....

      • by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @10:34PM (#50667105)

        There is some uncertainty about the extinction of North American megafauna. Human migrations to North America tended to occur during climate change, so which was the cause and with the effect of human migration and of extinction is a fascinating question.

        The destruction of the Nazca native American civilization due to overfarming and damming of rivers for agricultural control, coupled with unexpected floods, is very convincing.

      • Tell that to the mastodon, the American horse, the saber-toothed tiger ....

        Are you seriously sitting here bemoaning the loss of the saber-toothed tiger? Man, I wish a Dire Wolf would come back from the dead and eat your nuts, especially if you haven't bred yet.

    • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @11:00PM (#50667205)

      The american indians managed the land and it's resources just fine, It's the assholes from europe that wiped out most everything because of stupidity.

      They didn't manage the land and its resources. They lived a nomadic lifestyle. Once they'd depleted an area of its resources, they simply picked up everything and moved somewhere else. This had the effect of distributing their environmental impact.

      That only works so long as population density is very low. Europeans arrived with a much higher population density. They would've had the same detrimental effect on the North American environment even if they'd lived as the native Americans did.

      • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @06:54AM (#50668901) Homepage Journal

        They didn't manage the land and its resources. They lived a nomadic lifestyle. Once they'd depleted an area of its resources, they simply picked up everything and moved somewhere else.

        Who told you that? Because they lied to you. First, there was substantial variation in lifestyle. Second, they didn't just deplete an area and then move. They practiced land management, and they had the land portioned up into different groups' territories. In the west, they lived in relative stasis, and in the same places, for over ten thousand years. They successfully managed forests (with yearly controlled burns), oyster beds (by not overcollecting from them) and fish stocks (by not overfishing.) Their yearly burns kept the oaks and redwoods healthy, by clearing the understory. The oaks provided more food than they could eat every year. Then whitey arrived, in the form of Andrew Kelsey [wikipedia.org], who enslaved, raped, and murdered the locals. Some of them understandably got upset and killed him. Then we sent the US 1st Cavalry up here to murder all the Pomo on Bo-no-po-ti, aka "Island Village". Literally only one girl survived, hiding in the reeds while the lake went red with blood. Later, the federal government paid the locals $1/tree to plant black walnuts, as motivation to chop down the oaks upon which the natives depended for food, oaks in healthy forests that they had maintained literally for millenia. The walnuts were never financially beneficial to the area, and few remain today.

        In the Midwest, the natives deliberately burned forests to create more range land for the bison. The bison then maintained the land in a state suitable for their use, which left the bison suitable for the use of the natives. The natives would follow the bison herds, since that was their primary source of all things.

        Sorry, I'm not familiar with the natives of the East.

        Now, to be fair, if you go down and check out the natives of Mexico, they were eating one another, and they deforested the shit out of their land and they ran out of food and they migrated or they died. But up here in North America, the natives most certainly did practice sustainable land management.

        Europeans arrived with a much higher population density. They would've had the same detrimental effect on the North American environment even if they'd lived as the native Americans did.

        We'll never know, because they didn't even try. They did the opposite. They deliberately destroyed the lifestyle of the natives. They killed all the bison, a free renewable resource, so that they could carve the land up into fenced portions that someday, nobody would want to live on anyway. Seriously, do you think they would have killed the bison if they knew that someday all that territory would be known as "the flyover states", just a bunch of shitholes with poor civil rights? And they deforested the shit out of the west so that they could run cattle here! All they had to do to have more cattle than we could use was not kill all the bison at once.

        • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

          There is some truth in parts of what you say but its still a highly biased view point. Firstly the relatively small size of the Native American population made all that land management easy.

          When your numbers are that small you don't have all kinds of problems you do with larger populations. Simply burying your shit works when you only have a handful of people living on a large acreage. That does not hold up when your numbers get much larger.

          Forest does not in fact provide much food. It takes a lot of f

          • There is some truth in parts of what you say but its still a highly biased view point. Firstly the relatively small size of the Native American population made all that land management easy.

            Before the Spanish showed up with many fun new diseases, their population was up to at least 50 million, if not 100 million or more. It was smaller than what we have now, but not as small as people think.

            Simply burying your shit works when you only have a handful of people living on a large acreage. That does not hold up when your numbers get much larger.

            If they get much larger you have to actively compost the crap, sure.

            "The flyover states" are also "America's bread basket" they are not empty.

            Actually, most of the food comes from California.

            They do have a good deal of forest, more than they once did

            Forested area is nice, but forest biomass is what really matters, because old trees fix more carbon (and so on) than new trees covering the same area.

            The rest of space is very much being used to group the wheat and corn that went into your breakfast cereal this morning.

            Stuff we should be eating less of. Actual

            • and if we cut the HFCS out of corn we could save approximately 27 million acres there alone.

              Sorry, that was the ethanol, not the HFCS.

    • by jmd ( 14060 )

      "The american indians managed the land and it's resources just fine, It's the assholes from europe that wiped out most everything because of stupidity."

      One could argue that the native americans did not manage anything. They simply lived according to laws of life. Daniel Quinn wrote about laws of life in Ishmael, My Ishmael and the Story of B.

      As this article points out it is humans that have huge impacts concerning life on Earth. Daniel Quinn argues that by trying to manage the Earth, humans end up destroyin

    • by Afty0r ( 263037 )

      It's not farming, building and hunting that hurts the animal population. it's doing it in MASS QUANTITIES

      So err... it is then?

    • The american indians managed the land and it's resources just fine, It's the assholes from europe that wiped out most everything because of stupidity.

      This is a myth. Every population, human or otherwise expands until it can no longer support itself (or is killed off by higher predators). The "Europeans" were just more developed and hence could expand into the vast American continent much faster. Easter Island serves as a perfect example of primitive humans falling foul of poor environmental management.

  • Was there any doubt? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @08:34PM (#50666475) Homepage
    Once there was a creature called the Short Nosed Bear.

    They weighed on average 900 kilograms - basically 2000 lbs. The largest of them were over 12 feet tall. - more than twice my height. They could reach up and grab things 14 ft above the ground. They could run over 40 mph. On all fours, were still taller than men.

    They ate meat. Humans are made of meat.

    Humans lived in the same place as the Short Nosed Bear. Humans that didn't have bows and arrows, let alone guns. Just spears. With rock points.

    Humans probably didn't intentionally kill the S.N.B. - we just killed all it's food, and let them starve.

    Humans: The most terrifying killing machine Earth has ever seen. Nothing is worse than a human.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      As agent Smith said, I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet

      • by khallow ( 566160 )

        Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not.

        Cool quote bro, but in reality lots of mammal species don't live in equilibrium with their environment. They just die off a lot when the food goes away. Which is what humans do too when that happens. BUT humans are unusual in being able to radically alter their environments through agriculture and urbanization to allow many more humans to survive.

      • I'd say the multiple mass extinctions argue against that.

        Animals overbreed. New invasive species drive out existing species and take over ecological slots quickly on a geological time scale.

        There is a balance- but it's not stable long term. In the short and mid term, it's often driving by one species eating too many resources and so it starves off in large numbers.

    • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

      Humans: The most terrifying killing machine Earth has ever seen. Nothing is worse than a human.

      Yes there is - a group of humans gathered into a legally binding profit generating collective is worse than a human.

    • Humans: The most terrifying killing machine Earth has ever seen. Nothing is worse than a human.

      You've obviously never heard of a meteorite or microbiology...

  • by jmd ( 14060 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @11:12PM (#50667277)

    A couple of books on the subject of humans and life on Earth. Ishmael, My Ishmael and The Story of B. by Daniel Quinn. I doubt humans will destroy life on Earth, but I am pretty sure we humans will destroy ourselves.

  • And animals don't have the mental capacity to understand how radionuclides will affect their offspring, that's still human created toxicity.

    These animals are as likely to be exposed to radionuclide contamination by eating the local plant life as humans are. Since animals live vastly shorter lifespans than humans there is less time for cancers to manifest it's effects on the animals.

    I doubt eating these animals would be a good idea however it would be very interesting to examine just how much radionucli

  • Words are just words. If you think humans are overcrowded and are killing off the wildlife, then set a good example and make that ultimate sacrifice for nature. Perhaps others will follow your example.
  • Could it also be that animals just have shorter generations and the first few generations did poorly ( I remember reading stories about badly mutated animals) but ultimately radiation is just a selective pressure so after 30 generations, those that do well in radiation have come to dominate the population. Because their generations are one year long, they don't die from the effects of radiation before the ones who are doing better can reproduce. It would be hard for humans to survive 18 years to reproduc

  • Study Finds Communists Are Worse Than Radiation For Chernobyl Animals

    FTFY.

  • From the earliest post-Chernobyl studies, things have been showing a healthier ecosystem in the area, with the primary change being fewer humans.

    Alas for the anti-nuke hysterics, the main thing all that EVIL!!! radiation (properly radioactivity) has done has been...next to nothing. What really makes the place special is the laws forbidding humans from living in the area.

    Note also that humans STILL live in the area illegally. And there's no real sign of meaningful biological effects among those humans ei

  • Every time you post news like this more of them will start wondering if they should just kill people to save the world!

    Either that or kill themselves.

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