Intelligent Design speciation

Chernobyl didn’t produce new species but it did produce a lot of debate about radiation effects

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About the effects of radiation, Chernobyl was serious:

When a safety system test at one of the Chernobyl power plant’s reactors went badly wrong in April 1986, explosions unleashed a fiery plume of debris and radioactive atoms, or radionuclides, into the air that, over several days, may have emitted several hundred times more radiation than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. More than two dozen first responders died within months after rapidly absorbing doses of up to 13,400 millisieverts (a sievert is a unit of radiation absorption; normal background radiation levels are usually around 1.5 to 3.5 millisieverts a year.) Over subsequent decades, thousands of children and adolescents who likely absorbed somewhat lower doses developed thyroid cancer, a cancer type that, fortunately, most tend to survive.

Katarina Zimmer, “Scientists can’t agree about Chernobyl’s impact on wildlife” at Knowable Magazine (February 7, 2022)

The people left, the wild animals stayed, absorbing low-level radiation. While early reports suggested things were fine, a later one (open access here) documented such effects as a decline in numbers of various species, smaller brains and less viable sperm at higher radiation levels. That report came to be disputed, as Zimmer writes:

But some other research teams have not found significant radiation effects on the genetic diversity or abundance of certain animals around Chernobyl. In one widely publicized 2015 survey of a Belarus area near the power plant, a team of scientists determined that the numbers of elk, roe deer and wild boar were similar to those in radiation-free nature reserves in the region. No matter what the consequences of lingering radiation might be, there were massive benefits to people leaving.

Katarina Zimmer, “Scientists can’t agree about Chernobyl’s impact on wildlife” at Knowable Magazine (February 7, 2022)

The fact that there were no longer any humans in the area is bound to be a confounding factor. At any rate, however radiation might affect the wildlife, population sizes did not decrease. Good will in the research community, however, did:

The stubborn discrepancies have caused some members of each camp to become distrustful of the other’s conclusions, and on some occasions the debate has turned personal. In 2015, the International Union for Radioecology, a nonprofit group of radiation scientists, invited researchers from both sides to a meeting in Miami, striving to reach a consensus. But the conversation became so heated, “they started hurling insults at each other,” recalls McMaster University radiobiologist Carmel Mothersill, the IUR’s treasurer. The only conclusion they could reach was that “everything is so uncertain in the low-dose region that you can’t attribute anything definitively to the radiation dose.”

Katarina Zimmer, “Scientists can’t agree about Chernobyl’s impact on wildlife” at Knowable Magazine (February 7, 2022)

In science fiction, maybe radiation would result in new mutant species but it didn’t happen when radiation was inadvertently tried on a large scale on the ground.

You may also wish to read:

Darwinism must have bypassed Chernobyl. In 2011, it was noted that Chernobyl, forbidden to humans due to radiation after the nuclear accident, had not shown signs of new species evolving by natural selection acting on random mutations (Darwinism), as hoped. But it was simply teeming with usual wildlife. (June 24, 2019)


After Chernobyl, Eden? (March 10, 2011) From the source: “Twenty-five years after the Soviet-era meltdown drove 60,000 people from their homes in the Ukraine, a rebirth is taking place inside the exclusion zone. With Geiger counter in hand, the author explores Europe’s strangest wildlife refuge, an enchanted postapocalyptic forest from which entirely new species may soon emerge.” What was mainly new was that the animals showed no fear of humans.

7 Replies to “Chernobyl didn’t produce new species but it did produce a lot of debate about radiation effects

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    This pattern is familiar.

    Scientists believed that the Valdez oil spill would kill everything, so authorities carefully and expensively cleaned up all beaches. But they forgot to clean one beach, so a controlled trial was possible. The uncleaned beach remained alive while the cleaned beaches remained sterile.

    Same after Mt St Helens exploded. Scientists said it would be barren for a long time. Nature disagreed.

    Same after Hiroshima.


    Conclusion: Scientists hate Nature and life. Scientists love STERILE AND BARREN WORLDS. Scientists do everything possible to STERILIZE AND KILL the universe. When everything is dead, PURE ABSTRACT THEORY can triumph forever with no life to prove it wrong.

  2. 2

    There’s a lot to be learned here, in addition to the resiliency of nature.
    a) the No Zero Threshold theory in the 1950’s said “any radiation” is bad, and if 1500 sieverts kills a man, then 1.5 sieverts on 1000 men will kill one, and 0.015 sieverts on a million men will kill one. Based on this argument, even low radiation released at Fukushima would kill a few thousand people. What Chernobyl showed is that NZT is not true. There is a threshold where radiation is not dangerous. Statistics show it even becomes beneficial to have low doses of radiation.
    b) the two dozen first responders knew they were going to die. Russia asked for heroes to dump wet cement on the burning reactor from a helicopter. There was no way to shield these pilots. They died. Willingly.
    c) the thyroid cancers are caused by radioactive Iodine-131. The thyroid concentrates iodine. The cure has been known for 60 years–iodine tablets. The non-radioactive iodine saturates the thyroid and prevents it from accumulating the radioactive isotope. And since I-131 has a half-life of 8 days, in a month or two it is no longer a threat. When I was a kid, a scout leader I knew built a fallout shelter in his back yard (we lived near DC), and stocked it with bottled water and iodine tablets. The Russian government should have distributed tablets.
    SO in conclusion, no one died who didn’t want to, and all cancers were preventable.

  3. 3
    Querius says:

    On the bright side, the additional ionizing radiation resulted in many mutations and newly evolved species that would have otherwise taken millions of years. Right?


  4. 4
  5. 5
    PaV says:

    Let’s see, Darwinian evolution occurs in this way: first there are “random variations” and then NS works on them. Now, shouldn’t all that radiation, over all those years, have brought about a whole host of possibilities for NS to act? All those animals, why didn’t they change?

    Because it’s always the same pattern, Gould’s “paleontological secret”: things show up, stay the same and then disappear. Stasis is the rule. We see it at work here. Why didn’t any of the deer change its characteristics? Why did ‘genetic diversity’ remain the same?

    The genetics of all living things is characterized by stability, not change. The actual “evidence” for Darwinian evolution borders on the non-existent. And, yet, the scientific community is convinced that it is correct. And face masks protect us from Covid!

  6. 6
    PaV says:


    Nice post! Do you have a reference for the Exxon Valdez beach that was not “cleaned”?

  7. 7
    PaV says:


    This is the closest reference I found related to the clean-up.

    It’s astounding this isn’t better known. This also makes sense of the response post Global Horizon; that is, there wasn’t the normal screaming about all the damage and the panic of “cleaning up” the spill ASAP. And guess what happened there? Nature took care of everything quite quickly.

    Oh, but what would liberals/leftists do without fear?!?

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