Last night Prof. Mike Wood delivered a fantastic lecture on Chernobyl and some of the myths associated with the disaster and the Zone of Alienation which surrounds it.
Mike took an interactive approach to his lecture, making use of Slido to discuss common misconceptions and to illuminate the reality of life in and around Chernobyl. He shared personal anecdotes and images from his research trips in what was a wonderfully insightful and interesting talk.
He spent some time focusing the bio-diversity which can be found within the Zone of Alienation and debunked some Godzilla-like myths about giant earthworms and other mutations within the animal kingdom. He vividly illustrated the natural beauty of the area and discussed the wildfires of 2015/16 and how there were unhelpful attempts by the media to sensationalize the danger and impact of these fires.
His wide-ranging talk discussed a variety of themes including the medical impact of the disaster, such as the small number of people who died as a direct result of radiation poisoning, the longer term effects on cancer rates in the region and how this data should be interpreted cautiously. He highlighted the significant psychological impact of the disaster on the population of Pripyat and the surrounding villages. A particularly interesting insight was Mike’s discussion of the different levels of contamination and radiationwithin the Zone of Alienation, this allows scientists to analyse the effects of radiation on the natural world with a ‘control area’ of natural radiation.
In the Q&A session at the end of the lecture Mike discussed the increasing numbers of ‘disaster tourists’ visiting Chernobyl in the wake of the airing of HBO’s Chernobyl mini-series and how this tourism may impact on the bio-diversity of the Zone of Alienation.
To read more about Mike’s work see his staff page: https://www.salford.ac.uk/our-staff/mike-wood
The lecture can be viewed on youtube: