The recovery of nature

Nature can outlast humanity.

Ecosystems can recover from human damage but not fast enough to ensure human survival.

Ecosystems can recover from human damage but not fast enough to ensure human survival.

I visited an unusual park called Westlands Park in Colchester today, unusual because it was a former landfill site for rubbish.  Colchester Council after using up the remaining space for landfill converted the area into a nature park, planting trees and landscaping the area.  Nature opportunistically inside twenty years covered the park in dense woodland inhabited by rabbits and other wildlife.  You would never guess Westlands was a former landfill site but for the regular presence of structures dealing with methane and a distant chimney with a blue flame burning off methane.

Despite the efforts of humanity to ruin the ecological systems on this planet I am confident as Westlands proves that nature is regenerative and capable of self-healing when the opportunity arises.  I have no fear that humanity will kill nature on this planet, rather humanity will kill itself first, and nature will begin again to recover all ground it lost to the suicidal human species.

In 1986 the former Soviet Union suffered the worst industrial disaster in human history when their nuclear reactor in Chernobyl (located now in the Ukraine) exploded.  The USSR evacuated and abandoned the nearby cities of Chernobyl and Pripyat leaving most of their belongings behind.  Despite the initial high casualties amongst wildlife and tree nature today colonised Pripyat and Chernobyl which is now part of the surrounding forest.  The area around the failed reactor includes a 30 km exclusion zone now overrun with wildlife and woodland thanks to low competition from humanity.  Opportunistic nature took advantage of the radiation as special types of fungi called radiotrophic fungi are growing in the failed reactor walls living off gamma radiation.  After reading that according to Ukrainian officials the area will be unsafe for human habitation for 20,000 years I laughed, despite the tourism nature enjoys a human-free nature reserve which humans unless they are incredibly stupid won’t inhabit for thousands of years.

Chernobyl is a useful lesson in teaching that nature can recover from damage inflicted upon it, but not fast enough to save humanity.   Though nature takes decades to recover, for humanity the pace of nature’s recovery cannot guarantee survival of the species, so humanity will die, nature will begin again without humanity spoiling the party.


17 responses to “The recovery of nature

  1. Great post. I read that quite a few people have returned to their homes in Chernobyl, despite the danger… I hope they survive safely.

    • About 500 mainly elderly residents have illegally returned to the site, officially nobody is allowed to live or do business there, and the people making the site safe only visit for short periods of time. In my opinion radiation will impact those residents health.

      • I agree, I’m sure you’re right. It’s a terrible dilemma for these old people isn’t it… it would be very wrong for people with children to return though, however much they may want to

      • The people who returned with children did a terrible wrong to their children. Sadly many of the 200k + people who were evacuated suffered their own health dilemmas unrelated to radiation but connected to becoming rootless.

    • According to the following report the elderly people seem to be coping, any children in the zone are sick with cancer or have had their immune systems wrecked:

      “What’s the standard of living like in the exclusion zone?
      It’s really bad. There are no schools or healthcare because it’s illegal to live there. All of the kids were really, really ill and had cancer and weak immune systems. But their parents were completely oblivious to it and ignorant to the fact that radiation was causing those problems.”

  2. part of the problem with children is that small dosages of bad things are greater in proportion to their mass. Tie that in with growth and the damages are intensified.

  3. Ah, this is such a good news!

    I have no fear that humanity will kill nature on this planet, rather humanity will kill itself first, and nature will begin again to recover all ground it lost to the suicidal human species.

    In fact whatever we “homo sapiens” think about our illusory cleverness and wisdom, I find nature to be cleverer and wiser than any. History is a witness that if nature wanted to, it had wiped off even dinosaurs from the face of earth! I have double fears: that we might come ominously close to destroy nature, and that a brutal lesson from nature awaits us in such a case. It’s better we learn to be humble before we are made to learn this a hard way.

    Thanks for the brilliant post as ever, Alex.

  4. As the way grass grows through the concrete, and the roots of trees break through the sidewalks, earth planet will and does heal constantly and consistently. Although, humans as a whole have not yet realized that they are inhabitants of earth, not the owners of earth; some day the planet will make this obviously clear . . . and humans (although some are already embarking upon this path) shall finally see that we are the earth and stop this madness of self-destruction, for the human physical form is not indestructible and is as susceptible to extinction as any other living animal upon the planet. It is we who are in danger, more so than the planet.

  5. Yes, nature has evolved of millions of years Alex, and we come along and medal and create disasters in only a few thousand years, I have no doubts at all who will survive, and Nature always evolves and adapts and as we become parasites upon her back, she will no doubt shake us off! and start again…

    • The good thing about nature is that it leaves the door always open to humanity to work with it, but humanity chooses to turn their back and thus suffer the consequences.

  6. Yep, I’m with you on this.
    I think it is vastly underestimated how easily nature can… clean up our mess!
    I wonder, is this because we use a different timescale to nature…?
    Good observation!

    • Nature follows its own timescale I think, which in my opinion is different from that of humanity, but which means humanity will suffer the consequences of the mistreatment of nature.

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