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Guest Thinkers

Chernobyl: An Irradiated Eden

Twenty-five years after the Soviet-era meltdown drove 60,000 people from their homes in the Ukraine, a rebirth is taking place creating an unlikely refuge for Europe’s strangest wildlife.

With Geiger counter in hand, Henry Shukman explores the enchanted postapocalyptic forest from which entirely new species may soon emerge: “The abandoned backstreets of Chernobyl are so overgrown, you can hardly see it’s a town. They’ve turned into dark-green tunnels buzzing with bees, filled with an orchestral score of birdsong, the lanes so narrow that the van pushes aside weeds on both sides as it creeps down them, passing house after house enshrined in forest. Red admirals, peacock butterflies, and some velvety brown lepidoptera are fluttering all over the vegetation. It looks like something out of an old Russian fairy tale.”


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