A few days after this piece was completed, the Daily Mail Online (9.5.2019) carried a long article with photographs from the 10 square kilometres "Red Forest" in the Zone of Alienation within the 2,600 square kilometres Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. The article was prompted by recent work from the Lancaster-based Centre for Ecology and Hydrology under the auspices of Professor Nick Beresford. According to the article the area "... hosts great biodiversity", it shows an area "... far from a wasteland", an area which demonstrates ... adaptive responses to life with radiation" and a "... general lack of big negative effects of current radiation levels". It was a "wildlife refuge", an "excellent natural laboratory" where radiation had been "coped" with. Scientist from the Centre didn't actually go to Ukraine but they did send a lot of motion detector cameras to be attached to the dead, radioactive trees and the latter planted ones. These cameras don't measure levels of radiation of course but they did get some good pictures of various forms of wildlife which the Daily Mail and other news outlets that picked up the story published with similar comments to above. Nick Beresford is not only the head of the centre but he is also an advisor to the World Bank and has been a director in charge of UN development programmes making him qualified to paint a picture of a Garden of Eden when behind the canvass lies nothing but the threat of death and destruction.
The Daily Mail, in its profound ignorance, seems surprised that the area is not an actual desert and instead depicts a forest of illusions. The trees in the forest, those already there and those since planted, have absorbed much radiation and stored it except when a large part caught fire and released the poison into the atmosphere. The forest is not a "desert" in the sense of a mass of sand and the fact that the forest hasn't decayed is not a good sign. On the contrary, forests should decay; they should have the distinct odour of organic decomposition, along with the smell of growth, because that is part of the life-cycle of forest - decay, decomposition and new life. The fact that there is little decay, that the rule of forest life and death is subverted, is a cause for concern and not a hope for the future. As for the "abundant wildlife" photographed in the forest, wandering in from natural curiosity could well spell their doom if they stay there too long because the leaves, roots or plants that they consume will be repositories of radiation.
Kate Brown met two biologists, Tim Mousseau and Anders Moller, who up to then (2015) had spent 15 years studying nearly a thousand spots in the Red Forest. The first thing that they noticed was that there were no spider's webs - a forest should be draped with them. There were no webs because there were no spiders. Similarly, there were no fruit flies and a miniscule amount of pollinators - bees, butterflies, dragonflies and insects because the soil where they laid their eggs was highly radioactive. The reason for the lack of decay was because there were no microbes, fungi, worms, etc., which break organic matter down and bring new life to a forest. The soil, which contained large amounts of strontium-90 and caesium-137, with half-lives of around 30 years, is in fact a nuclear desert and no amount of wildlife pictures of unsuspecting animals will alter that.
Added to this is further disturbing news about the double-whammy of atomic-testing radiation previously locked into ice-caps and glaciers being released with global warming and the atomic-testing radioactive carbon found in small crustaceans at the bottom of the ten kilometre deep Mariana Trench in the Pacific.
This is the legacy of capitalism so far and another mess for the proletariat to clean up.