Wildlife Thriving Around Fukushima (and Chernobyl) – Therefore Thanos Was Right?

Guest sarcastic commentary by David Middleton

I’d like to assume Ross Pomeroy’s title was sarcastic…

Humans Are Worse for Wildlife Than Nuclear Radiation
By Ross Pomeroy – RCP Staff

In the wake of the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear disaster in March 2011, at least 164,865 people were evacuated from their homes as far as thirty kilometers away. Most have now returned, but some 40,000 people are still unable to do so, as the government prohibits lodging in areas where the annual radiation dose exceeds 50 millisieverts, roughly equivalent to three full-body CT scans.

But where humans are absent, wildlife has flourished.

University of Georgia wildlife biologist James Beasley and a team of colleagues recently set up 106 cameras in Fukushima’s evacuation zone and captured more than 267,000 images of animals over 120 days. Wild boar, hares, macaques, pheasants, foxes, raccoon dogs, martens, bears, and civets were a few of the many creatures spotted. Beasley and his co-authors found no evidence that radiation exposure had harmed animal populations.

[…]

What Beasley noticed around Fukushima echoes what scientists have already discovered around Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster: where humans are absent, wildlife thrive.

[…]

Real Clear Science

This immediately made me think of a scene in Avengers: Endgame (Spoiler Alert)…

May 7, 2019
The Science Of ‘Avengers: Endgame‘ Proves Thanos Did Nothing Wrong

JV Chamary, Contributor
Science
I write about science and technology

At the end of Avengers: Infinity War, the villain Thanos acquired the infinity stones for a gauntlet that let him snap his fingers and turn half the population to dust. In doing so, Thanos believes he’s achieved his goal, a universe free of suffering. His reasoning is simple: on a planet with too many people and limited resources, the survivors have more than they need, solving the world’s problems.

Spoiler Alert! This article contains mild spoilers for Avengers: Endgame.

Is Thanos right about overpopulation?

[…]

The idea that Thanos did nothing wrong has become an internet meme, but the joke does have some truth to it — and Endgame provides the proof.

During a conversation between Captain America and Black Widow early in the movie, five years after the events of Infinity War, Cap mentions crossing the Hudson River in New York and says, “I saw a pod of whales when I was coming over the bridge.” That one line implies a bright side to Thanos’ actions: they were beneficial to the environment.

[…]

Reducing Overpopulation

Thanos believes he’s performing a necessary evil that’s required to achieve a greater good, actions with the side-effect of promoting long-term biodiversity on Earth. Why would the Avengers want to reverse the effect of the snap? (READ: The Confusing Timeline of ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Explained)

The Avengers are guilty of putting the grief of survivors above the health of our world. From the planet’s point of view, it’s the superheroes who are the bad guys. Reversing Thanos’ actions is a selfish endeavor that reflects the fact we humans put ourselves at the center of everything, a philosophical viewpoint called ‘anthropocentrism‘. Nonetheless, we can still ask whether a smaller population would reduce suffering in the surviving people.

[…]

Forbes

Technically, Thanos didn’t just wipe out half of all people, he wiped out half of all life in the universe. So, his actions weren’t good for all wildlife… But, these two articles lead me to a few conclusions:

  1. Wiping out or drastically reducing the human population on Earth, would probably be good for wildlife… Who fracking cares? It would be really bad for people and domesticated animals.
  2. The planet doesn’t have a “point of view.” Just ask George Carlin.
  3. The government’s reaction to Fukushima killed more people than Three Mile Island, Fukushima and Ted Kennedy’s driving… combined.
  4. If not for NIMBY’ism and irrational fears about radiation, most of our electricity would be generated by nuclear power plants… And Earth’s average surface temperature wouldn’t be significantly different than it is.
  5. Godzilla and all of those classic radiation-mutated movie monster movies were actually just science fiction.
  6. It’s a crime against humanity that Avengers: Endgame only received one Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects. It may not have quite been Return of the King… But Robert Downey Jr. and Alan Silvestri deserved nominations respectively for Best Supporting Actor and and Original Score.
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145 thoughts on “Wildlife Thriving Around Fukushima (and Chernobyl) – Therefore Thanos Was Right?

  1. Wiping out or drastically reducing the human population on Earth, would probably be good for wildlife… Who fracking cares? It would be really bad for people and domesticated animals.

    Are there any benefits in reducing population?
    Does the very dense population of The Netherlands do very badly to the sparsely populated Sweden?
    Do the people in the sparsely populated Utah do so much better than the denser Kentucky?

    Some people even like mega cities, so the notion that we are too many is bewildering cynical way of thinking. A certain socialist leader in the nineteen thirties Europe, had similar ideas,later taken up by a European prince in early twenty first century.

    • So wrong. The human population of the earth is rapidly eliminating that of all other large animals, apart from those we eat. And they are on the way out too (vegan meat). Yesterday’s paper carried a story about 4000 sq m of the Serengeti being cleared of lions to make room for housing and crops. This will continue until Africans are given some incentive to slow their population growth. And some other countries too. Climate is irrelevant, population is the elephant in the room.

      What’s an elephant I hear you ask.

      • It’s not population growth that is killing most of the large game animals.
        It’s illegal hunting, mostly for trophies.

        The population growth in Africa has fallen tremendously. To get it to fall further we have to allow the people there the chance to become wealthy, to no longer need subsidence farming and hunting.
        Modern agriculture and ranching provides much more food on much less land, but it takes money and training to convert over.

        • MarkW,
          Yes, modern agricultural methods produce more with less acreage, however it seems that the arable acreage reduced due to over supply gets converted to habitable development for all the extra people that can now be fed.

          Wildlife had lost that battle long ago when the land was first converted into farm land … and its merely just a battle not the war.

          • Assuming the following stats are accurate:

            https://ourworldindata.org/land-use

            land use due to livestock and agriculture are the main impact, built up area not so much. Concentrating people in cities helps with the reduction of built up areas, but improvements in agricultural yield will have a far larger impact in terms of reducing overall human-related land use … assuming this is the desired outcome. Not sure there is a lot that can be done about land use for livestock, unless we are going to go for factory farming livestock in pens. I imagine the greenie types hate that, but then they want us all eating phyto-oestrogen loaded impossible burgers. The latter will reduce population as males lose the will and ability to reproduce… but I digress.

        • MarkW, most poaching of African animals is to provide food for the local population, “bush meat” they call it.

          Next there is poaching to sell ivory, horns, etc, into the Asian medicine market, as many parts of large animals are deemed an aphrodisiac, which is pretty weird thinking for a smart race of people.

          Low on the list would be illegal trophy hunting.

          • Ray Boorman – absolutely agree.

            For a detailed (and somewhat harrowing) review of the issue I recommend watching the documentary “Trophy”. It is available on DVD.

            Its powerful and (I think) well balanced. Please do not watch it with young children though, its not family entertainment

          • ThinkingScientist

            Why not?

            The alarmists have no compunction about terrifying our children with CAGW.

        • MarkW

          The solution is, of course, blindingly obvious.

          Encourage more of this global warming stuff, release billions of acres of land across Canada and Russia from permafrost and, bingo! more agricultural land than we can possibly use.

          The industrialised, Capitalist western world (and for the sake of convenience, I’ll include Russia in that) with their advanced agricultural technology will produce more food, cheaper, than African subsistence farming ever can.

          How do we achieve this?

          Well, according to climate alarmists, it’s easy. We allow Africans to build fossil fuel power stations, as many as they want, create wealth, which in turn reduces the birth rate; increases prosperity; and facilitates education which in turn increases technology.

          The resulting increased atmospheric CO2 will, of course, warm the atmosphere and create ‘extreme weather’ (for which there is no evidence of course) but with prosperity comes resilience to extreme weather. It also brings the wealth to pay insurance premiums so repairs to buildings and infrastructure can be undertaken if the worst did happen.

          I mean, what does it matter that in the UK there were 50,000 Excess winter deaths in 2017/2018, from a population of 60m wealthy, privileged, white people – whilst, in the 2017 ‘unprecedented’ Indian heatwave there was 222 deaths attributed to heat; from 1.3bn people at least 10% of which live in extreme poverty, which is more than twice the UK population.

          (Numbers from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and the Indian Disaster Database).

          This global warming malarkey is easy when you get the hang of it.

          • More CO2 in the atmosphere is also helping the deserts to bloom. We can farm in areas that were too dry in the past.

          • HotScot, I like it. Cooking limestone generates alot of CO2. Burning coal for electricity too. Time to get cookin’ and generatin’!

            PS. I like rubbing eco-loons’ noses down in the crap they drop on the carpet.

        • I am always amazed at people who think that the earth is not a finite piece of dirt. As the population grows so does the end result of meeting the carrying capacity of the planet. When that will be is anyone’s guess. Nature may cull the herd severely, or man himself may do something very stupid and eliminate one half of those of us currently here. No matter, much like a 1000 acre farm the planet can only give so much.

          • Yes, the planet does have a carrying capacity.
            However that carrying capacity is determined by the technology of the day.
            With current technology, the carrying capacity of the planet is probably somewhere around 20 to 25 billion. As technology improves, this number will increase.
            Regardless, population growth is on a path to peak sometime in the nest 10 to 20 years, probably somewhere around 10 billion and will start falling rapidly after that.

            I am always amazed at people who work so hard to convince themselves that there are too many people on the planet.

          • This is a horses for courses argument. Personally, I don’t like to live in cities or even towns. I want to live in the country away from other people. With a town nearby. So I am in TOTAL agreement. Others like heavily populated cities.

      • Lions and humans have some principle problems sharing the same land. However, if the Africans are not starved and have their economy increased considerable through plentiful energy and quality education, they will have the resources and incentive to maintain large areas for Man-eating lions and the rest of the exotic animals.
        The story is similar to the US. The great buffalo thundered over the prairie some years ago, but at that time the influx from other continent were more focused on survival, than the survival of the buffalo. Today the US economy is so much better, that maintaining huge parks like Yellowstone is possible, thus giving buffalo a chance.
        We should seek balance and compromises, not binary and uncompromising politic.

        The same goes for nuclear electric power. Let it grow slowly and consistently with the economy.

      • So Andrew Dickens, you do not believe in evolution as a natural process? If man is better suited to live in the Serengeti and takes over is that not Natural Selection at work? Or do you not believe in evolution and think you are God and should make the decisions on which species survive?

        • Nice one.

          atheist have religion too, man made.

          Environmentalism as Religion by Michael Crichton:
          I studied anthropology in college, and one of the things I learned was that certain human social structures always reappear. They can’t be eliminated from society. One of those structures is religion. Today it is said we live in a secular society in which many people—the best people, the most enlightened people—do not believe in any religion. But I think that you cannot eliminate religion from the psyche of mankind. If you suppress it in one form, it merely re-emerges in another form. You can not believe in God, but you still have to believe in something that gives meaning to your life, and shapes your sense of the world. Such a belief is religious.
          Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists.

          • max

            I like that comment a lot although I’m an atheist, or agnostic, or something.

            However, according to one report I read, climate sceptics have far more knowledge of, and far more concern for the environment than AGW alarmists.

      • How about we introduce lions to some urban environments, such as LA, SF, DC, Beijing, etc.? In a few places it might be possible to end the homelessness problem too.

      • Wow! Talk about opening a can of worms. You know that an IQ below around 80 in the US is considered functionally,… well, disadvantaged.

        I’d be curious what methodology they used to get this data. How they chose sample size and whether not not they used a neutrally biased test… or our closest approximation (e.g., Raven).

        • I’ve read that a person can take the same IQ test multiple times, and their score can vary by as much as 5 to 10 points.

          • Most online tests have a time component variable which, depending on your connection speed and keyboard/mouse skill could definitely have a 10% affect on the total score outcome.

            My favorite one is the Einstein Test

      • Living in Hong Kong I would doubt that number 1 ranking. Our administration, for starters, disproves it.

      • IQ measures in any population are always skewered towards low values. This is because real intelligence is rare, but stupidity is omnipresent.

      • I personally discount IQ tests for one simple reason, tests can’t tell if a person is intelligent or not. What they determine is if the test taker responds in a way the test developer has determined indicates IQ. It’s a soft science open to a wide variation of interpretation and opinion on the subject which are influenced by personal biases.

        Basically IQ tests are models of what is believed to indicate intelligence, results are sometimes useful but don’t expect them to give a definitive answer.

        • Darrin, if you would read the literature you’d find out IQ correlates very well with academic success and, broadly, to individual economic success (there are other important factors in individual economic success besides IQ; e.g., affability, dominance, need for achievement… which do not correlate that well with IQ).

          IQ is a useful metric that is valid and reliable.

          • Yes, we have around 100 years of data and improvements in IQ tests based on IQ test data. IQ tests are proven to be valid and reliable for all populations that they are designed to measure (and have been since at least the 1980’s). An appropriate test can accurately measure anyone in the “civilized” world. There is a debate on what “intelligence” is, but IQ scores – whatever they measure – are very predictive toward the ability to quickly understand that which is very complex.

            Whether you can accurately measure some tribesman from the Amazon region who knows nothing of reading or writing or any technology is debatable because these people generally are not given IQ tests, but the tests are very accurate for about anyone else. For special cases, such as learning disabilities, the appropriate test needs to be chosen. If someone has a visual disability, the diagnostician would not give that student a test that required a lot of visual discrimination (except perhaps to define the amount of disability).

            Populations tend to have higher scores with succeeding generations (“the Flynn effect”), which may be due to things like the attention given children when they are very young, or other reasons – it’s still being debated – but the tests are always re-normed so that white Americans score 100 on average.

          • Yes, a person taking multiple IQ tests will get somewhat varying scores depending upon the day and the test. If you take several there will be a mean and some statistical variation, but unless you aren’t trying to answer the questions correctly (or are half-asleep, or whatever) the variation will be small.
            What is really interesting are the scores on the subtests where you can see relative strengths and weaknesses.

      • If you think the avg-intelligence person isn’t all that smart, just consider half the people aren’t even that smart. 😉

  2. As long as you’re creatively snapping your fingers, you could simply snap into existence a universe offering an endless supply of materials to maintain and grow a healthy society.
    No need to eliminate people, just replace a Finite Supply with an Infinite one

    Thanos’ big mistake was not in eliminating 1/2 the universe population but in Not eliminating the memory of their existence.

    Though I still vote for the Infinite Supply idea

    • Bryan, we have an infinite supply of resources! You have been lured into Malthusian linear thinking. We don’t demand zinc, we demand corrosion proof barn roofs and culverts, batteries, etc. Hey plastic does a better job (BTW zinc is abundant however). We don’t demand copper, we demand communications and electrical power… etc….etc

      A)Essentially, all base metals continue to decline in real prices – there is lots.
      B) Also, every ton of copper, zinc, iron, gold….. ever mined is still with us on the surface of the earth and continues to be reused. Your gold watch has a few micrograms of medieval gold mined in the Gold Coast and brought by caravan over the Sahara.
      C) We are using less and less resources per unit of production (the first computer I used was bigger than my apartment and didnt have the computing power of my 75g cell phone).
      D) We will have peak population in the coming decades.
      E) The real resource is human ingenuity! If we let the left continue to erode education, then all the material resources in the world won’t be enough. Think this through.

      • Whenever I give a public talk, I refer to “Wealth without cost”. My example is the cell phone. Everyone has one, it does amazing things (compared to older technology) and it took very little natural resources to manufacture and operate.

  3. It is actually interesting that wildlife exists so easily in a radioactive (barely) environment. The effect of radiation in the area makes so little difference to the life expectancy or ability to breed that it doesn’t matter. Only humans, which have extended their life expectancy by over 2x and measure it so accurately *might* notice.

    The actual exposure rate (at 50 millisieverts) is so low the effect on the population might be hard or to spot. More dangerous would be any radioactive dust they might breath into their lungs (if any detectable amount is there). Still, anything over 10 would concern me long term. 50 is considered the upper limit of “safe” for a nuclear power plant worker.

    Meanwhile I sit here exposed to about 0.08 microsieverts per hour (around 700 per year or 0.7 millisieverts per year) just from natural background radiation… No third eye growing out of my head yet.

    • Oh didn’t you know, you have a third eye growing out of the back of your head: it’s blind, so you can’t see out of it and being at the back of your head, your other two eyes can’t see it even when you look into a mirror. /sarc

    • I saw a TV show a few weeks back that was investigating radiation effects on animals in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. They identified wild horses as having issues. The theory being that they are grazers and are getting large doses from the soil. They also brought up the possible disaster of a wildfire because leaves on the forest floor are heavily contaminated and if they caught fire it would create radioactive smoke that could drift for miles. Anyway, interesting stuff.

      • Can you give a link or similar to the problems that the wild horses are having around Chernobyl? My searches only turn up reports of rare Przewalski’s horse (introduced to the exclusion zone in 2004) doing well and using buildings for shelter.

        As for the wildfires spreading radiation from the “heavily contaminated” forest floor leaves (again a reference would be useful), this would disperse the radioactivity further, reducing the immeasurable effect that the wildlife appears to be experiencing rather than creating another “disaster”.

        • Some years ago I saw a woman interviewed who lived about 1/2 a mile from ground zero in Hiroshima Japan when it was bombed with a very dirty bomb in WW11.

          She still lived there and was over 90 years old, basically no health problems.
          From that time on about thirty years ago I stopped believing in the radiation bogey man.

  4. I did not see that movie, but my impression of Thanos is that he’s a conceited jerk who needs to sit in a corner facing the wall for about 3.5 gazzillion centuries, and apologize to all the lifeforms he’s destroyed. Godlike powers? Yeah, but no brains to go with them.

    • Sara

      No, not really a conceited jerk, just a being with a vision of a perfect universe.

      Nor is there anything wrong with that, it’s acting on it with radical and immediate change that’s the problem.

      His conduct reflects more the radical change the greens want on our plant, which again, isn’t a problem, but of course they too are acting on it, whilst the rest of us are much happier with evolution rather than revolution.

      It perhaps defines the predisposition of Conservatives to be more inclined to climate scepticism than the ‘revolution’ inclined left. As was pointed out to me over the issue of Brexit, we Conservatives are a patient bunch. Whilst the left screamed for a radical social revolution in the run up to the General Election on the 12th December, they got their arses handed to them on a plate with a landslide Conservative victory.

      I suspect the forthcoming US election will be the same, with The Donald romping home!

  5. I’m seeing this type of thing a lot these days. All over the place.

    Why are many now using what they see in movies to support their points of view as if they are examples of reality?

    “The science of Avengers: Endgame”? Puh-lease.

    • The “Save the Planet” meme has become embedded in the culture. It’s become a convenient tool for manipulation by the population. In fact, the clueless governor of Rhode Island just proposed 100% of electricity use in the State will come from renewable sources by 2030 using the very words. The movies subtly imply we all can be superheroes and save the planet, or should want to. Would you rather be a puny human? Didn’t think so.

  6. “Technically, Thanos didn’t just wipe out half of all people, he wiped out half of all life in the universe.”

    There was no indication in the movie that Thanos did anything except wipe out half of all sentient beings, meaning those who have created some sort of civilization. No one’s dog was shown “ashing” away, no half herds of caribou, etc.

    But, Thanos was short-sighted. If you condone his behavior, all he did was delay the “problem”. Maybe he expected that civilizations would learn, and control themselves. But that message wasn’t part of the movie.

    • They never explicitly stated it one way or the other. However, Black Widow said he accomplished his goal of wiping out half of all life. Also, when Hulk snapped it all back, one of the indications that he was successful was the sudden appearance of birds in the courtyard.

      • But wouldn’t there have been birds in the courtyard anyway? Just not as many?

        I’m aware of what was said, they just didn’t illustrate it.

        Should have included plants too, right? But half the trees didn’t die, half the grass didn’t die while the people were. Looks like it’s a matter of saying one thing and doing another.

    • Yet – it is acknowledged within ‘Endgame’ that Thanos wiped out half of ALL living things (this was deliberately referenced twice and then once again in ‘Spiderman far from home’).

      ‘Half of all living things’, by definition – includes single cell amoebas all the way to apex predators and all the plants in between.

      If they had meant ‘half of all sentient life’ it would have been said.

      Thanos implemented his plan, poorly.

    • @JA

      It is specifically shown in End Game that it was ALL life. Note the actions of Ant-Man after the Hulk used the glove.

      2nd.

      Thanos is fundamentally wrong. Just like every other eco-terrorist. The universe has a constraint that prevents both mass and energy to actually be consumed and gone forever. It is merely transferred or converted. Planet Earth has roughly the same atoms stoichiometry speaking as it has always had. It is a matter, pun intended, of economic and bureaucratic policy that locks away access to that energy and matter.

      • I must have missed the actions of Ant-Man, I’ll have to watch it again.

        Again, though, they showed no plants dying in any of the scenes.

        Totally agree with you on point 2.

    • I didn’t get to see the end of that movie. It was the third time in my life that a technical problem caused the show not to go on.

  7. The world today is cleaner than the world was 50 years ago. Despite the fact that the population has pretty close to doubled.
    Beyond that, the vast majority of those people are living better than they did 50 years ago. The few places where living conditions haven’t improved, the fault lies with the local governments, not with any “lack of resources”.

    • Great comment MarkW – a point few will consider themselves.
      The challenge now is to tidy up the mess we still create – like water pollution of waterways and sea(s).
      Its not the population that is a problem anyway – just the stupidity with which some treat our environment – so – if they tidy up their act, the earth would look not too much unlike the Thanos version – with NO lose of life necessary.

    • The local governments and also, the UN, the World Bank (which blocks any project of electricity production from fossil energy in Africa), the malthusian founded WWF, which has been exposed applying eugenics in Africa and India, etc.

      Malthusians have infested most of the international organizations and corrupted most of the developping nations governements.

    • MarkW

      World poverty has reduced from around 60% of the earths inhabitants to around 10% in 50 years or so.

      And has anyone else noticed there is a concerted fight back to the catastrophic left from the likes of, but nor restricted to, PragerU and Matt Ridley?

      The right appear to be getting the hang of communication technology and are spreading the word that the world is a better place to live in now than it ever has been. That it’s been free trade that’s got us here, that the WOKE community are the real racists, and that they do the black community no good whatsoever.

  8. 3.The government’s reaction to Fukushima killed more people than Three Mile Island, Fukushima and Ted Kennedy’s driving… combined

    Heck Ted Kennedy’s driving killed more people than Three Mile Island and Fukushima combined!

  9. “It may not have quite been Return of the King”

    Movie-wise, Return of the King was the worst of the three. Fellowship was the best, because it stayed truer to the original. Then Jackson started going farther and farther afield with his artistic license. He had a perfect story, and had to change it.

    The Hobbit movies are unwatchable to me. I sat through the first one, and found that it bore so little resemblance to the book (apart from the first 30 minutes or so) that I just had no desire to watch any of the rest.

    I read The Hobbit for the first time in 6th grade, in the early 70s. I’m now 57 and have read the entire series close to 20 times. Call me a purist, whatever. I wanted to see THAT story on the big screen, not some other distantly related story.

    • I thought all three were reasonably faithful to the books. The Hobbit movies kind of lost me too. They were good movies, but bore little resemblance to the book. My understanding is that he Incorporated The Silmarilian, which I haven’t read.

      • “I thought all three were reasonably faithful to the books.”

        Elven Archers at Helms Deep ??? No scouring of the shire…the complete cock they made of Faramir’s character.. the absolute mangle they made of Elrond…

        • Having the entire population move to Helm’s Deep.
          Having Faramir take Frodo to Minas Tirith.

          Neither of those was needed and the second actually slowed down the story without adding any meaningful drama.

        • 😎
          Be thankful. They actually shot a scene or two with Arwen at Helms Deep.
          But, they were making movies out of the books. To stick to the books throughout would have probably taken 6 movies to include everything. (And even the books don’t don’t explain just who is Tom Bombadil.)
          There were departures (some major) but mostly forgivable.

          PS Below MarkW commented on Faramir trying to take Frodo to Minas Tirith.
          The writers said they did that to clean up a (perhaps just a perceived) time line error in the books.

          • “To stick to the books throughout would have probably taken 6 movies to include everything.”

            I wouldn’t expect everything to be included. But adding inane things that simply weren’t there is idiocy.

        • Changing the motivations of the Ents.
          The bit where everyone thought Aragorn was dead, totally pointless.
          Legolas as invincible god.

          One of the worst, by far, for me was with Gandalf on the bridge with the Balrog. In the book, the balrog was falling, snatched Gandalf off the bridge with his whip, and Gandalf yells “Fly you fools!” AS he’s falling. In the movie, the whip just pulled Gandalf off the edge a bit, and left him hanging. He’s holding himself there, says “Fly you fools!” then lets go. You get the impression that if he had spent a little more time at the gym, he could have pulled himself up. Certainly one of the Fellowship could have run up and helped him. Huge mistake, that scene.

        • But I must say that I preferred the books version of the meeting of the Nazgul head and Gandalf.
          In the movie, Gandalf’s staff is broken and then the Nazgul hears the horns of the Rohirrim and turns away.
          In the book they meet but don’t engage when the Nazgul hears the horns.

          • “Reasonably faithful” doesn’t mean an exact transfer of a book to a screenplay. The book is almost always better than the movie.

          • Agreed.
            Tolkien’s books were classics.
            The Lord of the Rings movies were very good with “forgivable” and understandable departures from the books. They respected the books when they made the movies.
            The Hobbit movies, not so much.

            PS Some might not be aware of, Tolkien had in his will that Disney would never get the rights to of any of his works.

      • NOBODY has read “The Simarillion”. I tried once and it is so turgid and slow… I just gave up. Chis Tolkien (God rest his soul) tried to cobble together bits and pieces of his Dad’s unpublished works, but just didn’t cohere. IMHO

      • I read The Silmarilian.
        They stretched The Hobbit into 3 movies by throwing in stuff from the Appendix rather than The Silmarilian.

        • Doing 30 minutes on Radagast as some insane person was just awful.

          And making a villain of the “white orc” who was mentioned once in the book…

          And the encounter with the trolls. In the book it was comical, funny. In the movie it was a fight scene. Horrible.

    • You’ll never see THAT story on the big screen (no matter what book property you are talking about). It’s just not ever gonna happen. they’re call adaptations for a reason. to adapt requires change. the Lord of the Rings movies are probably as close as adaptations get to being “THAT version”. YMMV.

      The simple fact is that changes will be made:
      1) Somethings in a book simply don’t translate well into live action, even with modern CGI trickery.

      2) As great as movie making technology is, they still have to work to a budget and some things simply get left out or changed because it would otherwise be the proverbial “straw” that breaks the budgetary camel’s back to keep it as depicted in the book.

      3) there simply isn’t enough time. Films have a finite run time. And what the film makers think is a minor thing to lose, a fan might consider an essential moment. And every change, no matter how small, can snowball the further along in the story you go. For example, Cut out a minor character who imparts vital information and you have to come up with an alternative source for that information, That alternative source might then conflict with something else later on which then has to be changed to keep narrative cohesion and so on.

      4) Film making is a collaborative effort. Collaboration, by it’s very nature require compromises to get things done. To get the actors you want on board may require some creative tweaking of story or dialog (for example: you want big name star to play role x, but role x is smaller than big name star wants so you have to expand the role to keep big name star happy and on board, but expanding role x means something else will have to be trimmed, cut, or otherwise altered).

      5) and of course, everyone involved wants to put their own stamp on the project, which again entails changes.

      6) And books, no matter how well written, still leave a lot to the imagination. Everyone’s imagination is different. This affects how you think certain characters “look” or “sound like”, to how actions in the book took place. You may read a scene in a book one way and the film makers may have read it in a completely different way and while technically both reading fit the words in the book, it’s the imagination that fills in the stuff that words alone don’t convey that separates the two readings.

      and that’s just a few of the many reasons things can and do change between book and adaptation.

  10. Another place where wildlife thrives is artillery impact areas. Trainee gunners lobbing high explosive into the areas does the wildlife less damage that farming does. That does not mean that artillery impact areas are good places for people to live.

  11. Yes, like you all, I have to put up with ignorant twats telling me that modern Evil Capitalism / Donald Trump / Brexit / (your bête noir here) are destroying the environment and that life was so much better when we all spent our days dancing around maypoles or spinning prayer wheels (according to taste).

    In fact, all you need to do is to row a little boat and visit any third world shitholeistan of your choice and check out how much they care about the environment.

    All we need is more magic. 97% of “scientists” agree.

  12. It wouldn’t surprise me if there are those, in positions of power now, who would love to be able to just snap their fingers to make half the world population just cease to exist. Even better if they were able to pick and choose the populations to eradicate. We are, after all, talking about snapping ones fingers so the pick and choose part would be a given. Convenient genocide. No muss. No fuss. No nasty problems disposing of the dead.

    Of course, any lot these days willing to erase a portion of the population wouldn’t bother obliterating JUST half the population. That would be a terrible waste of a finger snap so it would need to be 95% of the population to make a meaningful difference. A magic finger snap is about the only way it could happen, really. Anything, other than magic, that could obliterate 95% of the population would, probably, end up doing the job on 100% of the population.

    Thanos and all powerful, Infinity Stone, doom aside. Mother nature will, eventually, do her own finger snap to solve any overpopulation problems we might have; ice sheets, meteor/comet impact, super eruption, epidemic, pick any one, or all of them, you like. It’s not a matter of IF, but when, for everything on that short list. The only IF is whether, as a species, we survive or not.

    Cheers

    Max

    • Seems to me some researcher somewhere (using models no doubt) determined that a precipitous population decline of as little as 10% (? not certain of that figure, quoting someone else who may have simply imagined such a “study” exists) would mean the end of civilization. Because we all depend on each other sort of like the links in a suit of chain mail, and it only takes removing a few of the links, the whole chain collapses, fails, can’t do it’s job anymore. Some essential skill, such as a doctor, is lost and the remaining population can’t get along without him, thus the disaster continues. Recovery from a severe disaster remains doubtful because as the density declines the breeding age population has a harder and harder time getting to each other, they’re just too far apart.

      • Quite a few companies would collapse if 10% of their technical staff were to vanish over night.
        High tech systems have many components, all of which most work smoothly together in order to work. There is no one person who knows how everything works. In some larger systems it’s rare for one single person to know how even 10% of it works. A loss of 10% of your workers all but guarantees that some vital piece of knowledge would be lost.

        • Quite a few companies would collapse if 10% of their technical staff were to vanish over night.

          True, with the caveat that it depends on which 10% is lost. While there are certainly 10% that are vital not to lose, there’s also the 10% that wouldn’t be missed. I can remember the time, years ago, the company I work for was having a round of layoffs (due to a budget cut). I knew, before the firings happened, who would stay and who would go just by looking around the room. He’s a slacker, gone. She’s working on a vital area with little backup, she’s staying, etc.

  13. The way the birthrate is dropping fast in most countries, we will quite possibly see a rather quick decline in the population in the later part of this century. Some demographers argue the UN population projections are exaggerated (I know, WUWT readers are shocked the UN would do such a thing) and they project the world’s population will start to decline between 2040 & 2060. In fact, one of the main reasons it won’t fall faster is that billions of people are living an extra decade or so. Empty Planet by Bricker & Ibbitson is an interesting read.

    • I’ve been saying 2030 to 2040 for years.
      With a fairly rapid decrease beginning within 10 years of the peak.

  14. 50 mSv (5 rem) per year is a serious dose. Children and child bearing people should not live there at that level. It might a place for elderly to get low/free rent

    • Definitely. That’s why nuclear power station workers die of cancer all the time.

      /sarc

      Seriously, eating two bananas a day will probably exceed this dose. Ban bananas immediately!

  15. The Thanos plot of was the best part of the Infinity War movie!

    My vote is YES! And he, the character, is correct.

    The movie Endgame was just a lame spin-off to please Disney !

    😀

    • According to the Malthusians, we should have all died off long before we broke 2 billion in population.
      The population is approaching 10 billion and almost everyone is living better, much better than people did at 2 billion.

      Thanos was wrong about everything.

  16. Ah yes, Chernobyl. They forgot Putin and Russians, now is Zelenski and Ukrainians. Don’t even go there, Chernobyl, civil war, Crimea, Malezian plane, Bidends, Teheran plane, one wonders what’s next; place slowly went down the drain since Khrushchev died. /sc

    • Resources are infinite – even if you just confine yourself to this planet.

      Just wait until we start mining the asteroid belt. It should be fairly quick (in civilization timescales) with automated and remote control mining ships.

      Imagine an entire planet’s resources available to just be picked up, we just have to bring it here. Most of it doesn’t even need processing, it’s pure (because no oxidisation). Global economics will change dramatically. The first company or country (assuming any country will manage this, which I doubt) will be global leaders for hundreds of years.

      We’ll probably need a fair bit of oil to manage that, but there’s plenty.

      • You haven’t made an economic case for mining the asteroid belt. Those “…automated and remote control mining ships…” still take money to build, and money to put fuel in them, and money to build and maintain the controllers, and money to pay the guy that does the controlling. And what if one of them breaks down? NASA spends $billions on e.g. a Mars rover, and when it gets there it never moves from it’s landing spot, and can send back no data, that’s a YUUUU-UUUUGE loss, and NASA being a government entity, doesn’t even have to show a profit. It’s a money pit, perpetually! Imagine a company investing its bucks, or even the bucks of some venture capitalist who thinks he can afford to give away that kind of money, and the mining ship meets up with an asteroid, assuming it makes it to an asteroid, and it can’t even get the digger/chunker to work, or the grapples, or however you envisioned getting this ore (which may not be oxidized, but most likely is not homogeneous, it’s undoubtedly mixed in with a bunch of other stuff so it’s not market ready even when/if it gets back to Earth’s orbit) back to Earth so no ore ever gets back to Earth… No company can afford too many of those kinds of failures, probably not even one of those kinds of failures. So then it would take more money to send out a repair vessel, which might even need to be manned to do the repairs (whack it in the appropriate place) and get the thing up and running, and by now, what price would that ore have to bring to make that venture profitable?

        About the only place/way to make a profit from mining the asteroid belt is for interstellar exploration. Send out a small ship, mine the asteroid belt of the raw materials necessary to build a mega-sized interstellar vessel in solar orbit, out at the asteroid belt, and then employ reusable passenger-only spaceships to bring the people out to it, and then kick the tires and light the fires and away you go!!!!

        • details, details. a similarly long list of what could go wrong could be made for any endeavor that mankind has successfully perform in our history. The fact is, if there are people who think there’s money to be made out of it, there will we people who will try. Many will fail. But if there really is money to be made, eventually someone will work out the details to make that money. That’s how it’s always worked throughout history.

  17. The only reason we should care about the environment is to make our lives more interesting and pleasant. Selfish yes, but the earth and everything on it is doomed sooner or later, and no one/nothing cares if we exist or not, or what ‘care’ we take of the planet. It doesn’t matter if human activities destroy the planet in the next few hundred years (they won’t), or a space rock /does it tomorrow or millions of years from now. Humans won’t exist to see the sun die, that’s for sure. Humans are animals, humans are nature, and everything we do is natural. Eco-fruits seem to think we aren’t – that is extreme arrogance and ignorance.

  18. YouTube channel – Because Science.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Pu934afVrM

    Published on Aug 8, 2019
    It’s been over three decades since the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, and while the area remains unsafe for humans to return for long term inhabitation, the wildlife has remained and undergone its own changes in that time. While many might image that sort of radiation would result in bizarre mutations like two-headed deer or giant insects, could the aftermath of such an event actually be positive for the plants and animals that remained? Kyle ventures into the Exclusion Zone to take a closer look in this week’s Because Science!

  19. 99.9% of all species that ever lived went extinct before humans ever appeared on the scene.

    Wildlife don’t thrive when humans are missing. They suffer predation, over-hunting, over population and sporadic starvation until nature wipes them out entirely.

    Ross Pomeroy and JV Chamary are foolishly engaging short-baseline thinking; a standard failing of eco-nuts and the Humanities crowd.

  20. David, thanks for opening up a discussion of the fantasies and nightmares of Mankind. While I have read the Lord of the Ring series at least a dozen times I have also read Tolkien’s other works like the Silmarillion. My main criticism of the movie trilogy is that they were too short and thus had to leave out important story lines. Tolkien was very much influenced and encouraged by C. S. Lewis of Narnia fame and I believe that is why his works have such a strong Judeo-Christian vein running through them. The idea that humans can accomplish great things in spite of their flawed nature is seen time and again in his writings.
    Progressive religious fanatics have very different view towards humanity, however. Progressives see their fellows as flawed and evil if they do not accept the tenets of faith espoused. Questioning CAGW, socialism or transgenderism is heresy to a Progressive and must be rooted out with fire and steel if possible. Witness the two Bernie-bros caught on video recently extolling the virtues of the Soviet Union and gulags for Trump supporters. One even spoke of learning the truth about the USSR in college! Apparently young people in the U.S. have racked up $1.7 TRILLION in college loan debt to be taught gulags were great places that provide a “living wage” and St. Greta is a scientist of great repute! We need the Green Nuclear Deal where we adopt a crash program to develop and build Gen IV nuclear plants and then determine what range CO2 is most beneficial to life and adjust accordingly! I’m guessing somewhere in the 400-800ppm range but I’m willing to go higher if needed!

    • Much of the influence went the other way. It was Tolkien who converted Lewis to Christianity.
      Tolkien also thought the Christian overtones in the Narnia series were to overt.

  21. As always they miss the blatant fact that humans are part of nature, not outside it. We are as natural as any other life form. Only by assuming otherwise does their argument make any sense at all.

    • Yein. There are two distinct differences between humans and most else.
      1. We intentionally alter the environment (early fire, and stone tools, up to modern monoculture farming and megacities).
      2. We think we are different because we think and can communicate those thoughts.

      Neither plants nor other animals have those two capabilities to any significant extent.

      • You only think that. When I put this question to my cats, they were adamant that cats decided to domesticate humans to their service because it was faster than waiting for evolution to provide them with opposable thumbs.

        • Yup. My dog apparently thinks the same, especially when she gets into my favorite chair after dinner before I do. Except I disagree, and she gets scooted out.

  22. This post got me to quickly research Chernobyl wildlife ‘thriving’ for now 33 years in the radiation exclusion zone. There was a major conference late last year that covered many of these bases, making the research very easy. Birds, fish, amphibians, mammals all thriving despite levels of radiation that even killed nearby coniferous forest—the so called red forest. Not at all what anyone expected.

    Several theories have been put forth.
    1. A lot of animals have in fact died of radiation induced disease (cancer) , but we don’t ‘see that’ as they get eaten as the overall ecosystem devoid of man thrives back to its ‘natural’ state. Especially early on, when no humans were there to observe wildlife recovery.
    2. (Related to 1) Radiation induced accelerated radiation tolerant evolution—birds are displaying a higher tendency to albinism, frogs to darker pigmentation.
    3. All the animals in the ecosystem have much shorter lifespans than humans (bison <10 years, horses< 15, foxes <5), and radiation induced disease (other than acute radiation poisoning—which killed the red forest) is probably a cumulative effect so these animals are simply less effected. Fits the human Hiroshima experience.
    4. No ‘radiation induced’ ‘abnormal’ animals could just mean those are get aborted or stillborn, something researchers are not there enough to observe adequately (also related to 1 and 2).

    • It’s probably all of those plus (5) Natural selection .. survival of the fittest genes adapted to resist radiation damage.

    • There is a long latency between ionizing irradiation and full carcinogenesis. In humans ~25 years for solid cancers. Most animals just dont live long enough. Except rats / mice which lack some of the DNA damage response mechanisms that humans and other mammals have. A high% of rodents die of cancer naturally, without any irradiation.

  23. David,

    I enjoyed the post, and agreed with most of your points except,

    “If not for NIMBY’ism and irrational fears about radiation, most of our electricity would be generated by nuclear power plants… And Earth’s average surface temperature wouldn’t be significantly different than it is.”

    Uh, prove it!

    I’m all for nuclear energy, but there is ZERO proof that the mean temperature of the earth’s atmosphere would be “significantly different” if nuclear plants had been generating the energy that has been, instead, supplied by coal and natural gas.

  24. As is my wont, my takeaway from the quoted article had nothing to do with the main point: it was the reference to “raccoon dogs” inhabiting the surrounds of Fukushima. I had never heard of such a creature…but I have seen one!

    Some months ago, I happened to glance out one of our sunroom windows, and saw something I first thought was a fox. We have lots of them in our neighborhood, and this creature was the equivalent of a good-size fox. But when it paused, and looked directly at me through the window, it had the facial structure and markings of a raccoon! We have LOTS of those in our neighborhood (one of which almost killed me via rabies infection). The rest of its body markings, especially the bushy ringed tail, were raccoon-like.

    I did a little research after reading this post, and sure enough the pictures I found were of a creature exactly like the one I saw. But there are supposed to be only a handful of them in America, and all of those in Atlanta (we live in Manassas, Virginia). Now I have something exciting to report to the Virginia animal control people! Thanks, Mr. Middleton!

    • Yes, raccoons are overpopulated, nasty & disease ridden. I trap ’em regularly — won’t say what I do w/’em…..

  25. Here are the built on percentages of land surface in several countries:

    USA 1.63%
    UK 5.89%
    Germany 7.62%
    Italy 5.48%
    Hong Kong 14.89%
    Russia 0.15%
    Poland 2.68%
    France 4.25%
    Netherlands 16.96
    Belgium 15.37%
    Finland 0.27%
    Peru 0.18%
    Pakistan 0.5%
    South Africa 1.29%
    Australia 0.15%
    Singapore 50.51%
    Saudi Arabia 0.15%
    Morocco 0.67%
    Malaysia 1.7%
    Libya 0.08%
    Kenya 0.1%
    Indonesia 1.14%
    Brazil 0.25%
    Korea 3.58%
    Japan 7.36%
    Ireland 1.62%
    Greece 1.76%
    Hungary 3.63%
    Iceland 0.04%
    Israel 5.49%

    (From:

    https://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=BUILT_UP

    )

  26. Anyone interested in the intersection/interaction between wildlife and humans might want to read Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds by Jim Sterba

    Highly recommended.

  27. It we are overpopulated at 20 billion, then we are in great shape. If we are overpopulated at 1 billion we are in bad shape.

    Who gets to decide whether I live or die? I know it won’t be us.

  28. From my research, the exclusion level at Fukishima of 50 mSv per annum is around optimal for human health and well being. The dose is around 20x average background and might alarm some folks, however there are millions of people worldwide who are naturally exposed to this dose and higher without adverse population wide effects. You might be surprised that for mice, experiments in the 1950’s gave the optimum dose for life expectancy and growth rate at ~1000x background. For those interested in this research I refer you to Ed Hiserodt’s excellent book, “Underexposed”, which reviews the earlier work of Don Luckey et al.

  29. The presence of lots of wildlife near Fukushima MAY demonstrate that the human evacuation from there was not necessary, although most of the animal species mentioned have much shorter life expectancies than humans. An animal with a normal life expectancy of 5 to 10 years would receive far less radiation living there than a person who evacuated at 30 or 40 years old, who may be expected to live another 40 or more years, unless the person gets cancer due to the radiation.

    The Chernobyl and Fukushima incidents have been exploited by the media to demonstrate that nuclear power plants are too dangerous to be built, as if a meltdown would result in as much destruction as a nuclear bomb (which is not true). Yet nuclear power plants, if properly designed, can be safer than coal-fired or natural-gas fired power plants.

    Both the Chernobyl and Fukushima incidents were due to poor design. The Chernobyl plant did not have adequate containment, and the Soviet-style design did not conform to requirements for safe design in effect in Western nations at the time it was built.

    The Fukushima plant itself was well-designed, but it was located on a low beach between two coastal hills, which channeled the water from the tsunami straight over the nuclear power plant. It was well known that that area was earthquake-prone, but no provisions were made that could enable the pumps to be started remotely (from the top of the hills) if the nuclear plant was flooded. This was the same mistake that led to the massive flooding in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina–once the levees were breached, there was no way to start the pumps remotely from a non-flooded area.

    Nuclear power plants are able to provide tremendous amounts of energy, with little or no pollutant emissions, safely if they are properly designed. There is no reason to fear nuclear energy, but nuclear plants have to be designed to withstand upsets, and have systems in place to enable operators to respond to adverse conditions and shut them down safely when necessary.

  30. same goes for the coral at Bikini Atoll, where man does not go. It is in pristine condition and growing like a forest .

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