Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Fukushima: boars, pheasants, monkeys...

The Fukushima-ruining earthquake took place 8.9 years ago (TRF about Fukushima) and whole irrational nations that live tens of thousands of kilometers away have abused that event as an excuse to abandon the nuclear energy entirely.

Nations such as the so-called Germans will pretend that there are no nuclei sitting in the heart of each atom, no seeds where the characteristic energy changes are one million times higher than the energy associated with the atomic orbitals i.e. the state of the electrons. Given the fact that Germans suck this much in nuclear energy, you must forgive Werner Heisenberg that he wasn't capable of producing the damn bomb.

Meanwhile, like in Chernobyl, animals behave as if this weren't even a local catastrophe, let alone a global one:
Wildlife is doing just fine... (ZME)

Rewilding of Fukushima's human evacuation zone (Frontiers of Ecology and Env.)
James Beasley et al. from University of Georgia have installed lots of camera traps at 106 places in the region around the Japanese nuclear power plant.

They have collected over 200,000 pictures with wild animals. The most widespread species was the wild boar which conquered over 40,000 of these pictures. As some people may confirm when they look in the mirror, I believe that boars are a great approximation of humans. When humans (I mean self-described humans) are gone, these wild pigs may migrate there, reproduce there, and do very similar things that the humans (or self-described humans) were doing before. ;-)

Wild boars don't have a universal cycle. The researchers found out that in the absence of people, they behave like most people and are mostly active during the day. However, that could cause trouble to them when people are nearby so whenever this interaction is possible, wild boars prefer to live at night.

Pheasants are daytime animals while raccoons are nighttime or nocturnal animals. All the animals, including foxes, raccoons, the Japanese marten and Japanese macaque or monkeys (20 species in total were observed), clearly love the absence of the people much more than they care about the radiation level which they can't detect. The Japanese serow, some wild goats, also appreciate the absence of humans but they're already bothered by the new approximations of humans, the boars, and tend to move to places where the number of boars is low. ;-)

There's quite some amount of data available here. Some general interesting lessons seem obvious. Even now, less than 9 years after the earthquake, the leaked radiation is already a non-event for the local life as a whole. Why do people avoid these places? They avoid it because of the risk of the radiation-related disease or death. In other words, humans take precautions, sometimes excessively so. (In some cases, human societies and nations take precautions, against the will of many individuals who would prefer the freedom.) Animals can't detect the radiation and the animals' intelligence agents weren't even capable of figuring out that the humans have detected something. So they behave freely and only respond to some obvious observations.

In some sense, the animals end up behaving more rationally than the humans because their behavior properly reflects the fact that there are greater risks for their life than the elevated radiation levels. (That doesn't mean that animals can't take excessive precautions, like leftist humans. On the Czech-Bavarian border, the red deer behave as if the Iron Curtain were still there, even 30 years after it was removed. This no longer useful wisdom is being transferred from one generation of deer to another. Given the fact that the deer can't run proper yet safe experiments to find out whether the Iron Curtain is safe, would you still claim that the old habits prove the stupidity of the deer?) Also, some natural selection may be taking place and select the species and individuals that are less vulnerable to radioactivity.

From a global environmental viewpoint, the Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents could be good news because they forced the humans to create nontrivial reservations at "rather ordinary places" settled by the humans, places where you usually don't declare a national park but places where the very presence of humans simply drives the animals out. And these new reservations at formerly civilized places are a great tool to preserve some diversity of animal species that have lived at the very same places that the humans prefer for life.

So I wish the biosphere to be gifted as many nuclear accidents as possible. ;-) Well, maybe the humans could declare a bunch of similar reservations at regular places even in the absence of a nuclear accident.

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