Five famous environmental disasters that humans and nature recover together

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Five famous environmental disasters that humans and nature recover together

Birds and mammals paved the way for humans to return to Fukushima, Japan.

But hope is still there. By investing our creativity and resources in science-based restoration projects, we can compensate for nature’s adaptability-and even improve nature’s adaptability. The following five disaster cases show that partnering with the earth requires patience and more humility. However, the inspiration from the past symbiotic prosperity may be the key to maintaining the health of the planet and avoiding future drastic changes.

Recovery start time: 2011

Disaster background: On March 11, 2011, Japan experienced the strongest earthquake on record. 41 minutes after the earthquake, the first wave of tsunami hit the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. During the next 96 hours, three uranium fuel cores melted, exposing nearly 400 square miles to intense radiation. Approximately 16,000 people died in the merger disaster. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident was also the most serious nuclear leakage after Chernobyl.

Recovery: It takes decades for nuclear byproducts such as cesium-137 to decay into more stable elements, so humans must bear its heavy responsibility. The Japanese government and nuclear power plant owners have cleared the topsoil and scattered potassium throughout the area to replace radioactive particles that might have been absorbed by plants. Today, concrete barriers and a mile-long “ice wall” (frozen soil) largely prevent Pacific ocean water from flowing around the reactor building. So far, similar fortresses have been working: daily tests at the Fukushima Agricultural Technology Center have shown that local food samples meet strict safety standards.

Some parts of the accident scene are still an unforgettable scene, and open magazines are still scattered on the counter of the abandoned cafe. However, as time passed, the evacuated people and the animals whose numbers were already declining returned here one after another. The cameras placed by ecologists in the area recorded wild boars, raccoon dogs and a dozen other mammals. Birds also show amazing adaptability. Andrea Alicuti, an environmental toxicologist at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, said that although the number of chicks is still low, preliminary studies on chicks show that genetic damage is relatively limited. This may bode well for radioactive ecosystems elsewhere. Alikuti said: “As the human community is gradually rebuilt, the house swallows that often nest under the eaves have also returned. After the disaster, you will find that the connection between man and nature is so close.”

< p>It may take 200 years for Japan to completely shut down the Fukushima nuclear power plant. However, this costly disaster has prompted other countries to phase out nuclear power plants. For example, Germany is expected to shut down all 17 nuclear power plants by 2022.

Five famous environmental disasters that humans and nature recover together(1)

Mozambique Goron The rebirth of Gossa National Park brings new economic vitality to local residents.

Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique

Recovery start time: 1995

Disaster background: Ecologist Kenneth Tinley flew over Mozambique in 1972 In the Great Rift Valley, he saw a scene of prosperity. According to Tingley’s estimates, nearly one million acres of Gorongosa National Park is home to more than 30,000 large herbivores, including buffalo, wildebeest and elephants, and hundreds of lions. But in 1977, after Mozambique ended nearly 500 years of Portuguese colonization, a civil war broke out in the African country. The two sides did not truce until 1992. At that time, the war had killed 1 million people, and the participants slaughtered a large number of mammals to provide food for the soldiers and fund the war. The population of some mammals has decreased by more than 90%.

Recovery: The huge loss has prompted people to carry out ambitious experiments on ecological restoration. For its part, the vast floodplain has fertile soil and abundant rainfall, which can provide high-quality pastures for small herbivores such as antelopes. However, despite the rapid recovery of some species, the restoration of populations of large wild animals such as zebras and hippos still requires external forces. Although the initial management work began in 1995, it was not until 2008 that the Mozambican government and the American non-profit organization Carr Foundation agreed to cooperate to develop a ten-year plan: the Gorongosa Ecological Restoration Project to strengthen biological Diversity. People have set up a 15,000-acre reserve here to protect animals from lions and poachers and help them restore their populations before they are released into the national park.

However, just helping animals to reproduce is not enough. The locals also need help. Mark Starmans, director of scientific services for the national park, said: “The restoration of the ecology depends on the interaction between man and nature.”

There are approximately 250,000 Mozambicans living in the area. To help them make a living, the project also sponsored a series of activities, such as forest rangers and tour guide training projects, tree shade coffee micro-enterprise, education and medical services. By providing food and health protection to local communities, all this work can also ease the pressure on animals. With poaching activity falling by as much as 72%, Gorongosa has now become a textbook case for maintaining ecological and economic balance. E.O, a leading institution in environmental protection research and a partner of the Carr Foundation. The Wilson Biodiversity Foundation cited the case of this national park in its science curriculum to illustrate that multiple efforts can bring an endangered environment back to life.

Five famous environmental disasters that humans and nature recover together(2)

Red” The “mud” river prompted the adoption of more sustainable town planning in Ojka, Hungary and its surrounding areas.

Recovery start time: 2010

Disaster background: In October 2010, southern Hungary encountered heavy rains that lasted for several weeks. Subsequently, a crack in the corner of the reservoir of the Oikao alumina processing plant was washed away, and more than 2,500 acres of villages were subsequently flooded by high alkaline red mud. Locals call this silt flood “mini tsunami.” The red mud was originally a by-product of the process of refined bauxite into industrial powder. The accident resulted in the death of 10 people (including a child) and more than 700 residents were evacuated, making it one of Hungary’s worst ecological disasters.

Recovery: In order to prevent the red mud from flooding further, the Hungarians used natural elements to deal with industrial elements. Workers dumped 11,000 tons of gypsum minerals into dangerous alkaline sludge to prevent the sludge from burning organisms. They also used acidic liquids to flush the contaminated areas to neutralize the pH; remove and replace the contaminated topsoil in agricultural villages; and dredged water bodies to catch any harmful debris. The entire clean-up work took three years and cost a total of 127 million US dollars.

If it were not for the assistance of local tributaries, the cost of cleanup would have been higher. The two rivers Torna Creek and Marcal River that eventually flow into the Black Sea wash the silt into a less toxic mixed sediment. William Mays, an environmental scientist at the University of Hull in England, said: “Although dilution is not a real strategy for pollution management, the size of the downstream waterways around Ojkau means that the leaked material can be diluted quickly.”

< p>Ten years later, the local government has rebuilt the town and incorporated flood control and sustainability into town planning. The plant also continues to sound the alarm for global manufacturers. Today, this alumina processing plant has begun to adopt a new alumina refining process. The by-products of the new process are more drier, so there is less red mud. Next, they intend to build a completely zero waste system.

Five famous environmental disasters that humans and nature recover together(3)

Global common Efforts to reverse the destruction of the ozone layer in Antarctica.

Recovery start time: 1987

Disaster background: In 1985, British Antarctic scientific expeditioners discovered that the ozone content in this area-the atmospheric molecules that shield the earth from solar radiation, Between 1977 and 1984, there was a sharp drop of 40%. At the beginning of the 21st century, the disappeared ozone formed a huge hole with a radius of 11.6 million square miles over Antarctica. Although the expedition team knew that changes in sunspot activity, seasons, and latitude would change the amount of ozone, such huge fluctuations made the researchers uneasy. Experiments conducted by California chemists have shown that since the 1920s, chlorine released by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which are widely used in refrigerants and aerosols, is decomposing ozone in the stratosphere at an unprecedented rate. .

Recovery: Once the data of chemists and meteorologists were released, the international government moved quickly. In 1987, nearly 200 countries jointly adopted the “Montreal Protocol.” The agreement forces manufacturers to produce alternatives to HCFCs that will not destroy the ozone layer. This time, the global joint environmental action can be said to be unprecedented.

Once humans stop the flow of HCFCs, the earth’s circulatory system will come into play. Susan Strahan, an atmospheric scientist specializing in the study of the ozone hole at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, said that we need the help of the earth. Strahan added: “We created this non-naturally occurring substance. We can’t just control this substance and it’s done.” On the contrary, ozone is usually generated in the tropics. Atmospheric wind can bring fresh ozone from the tropics to the polar regions. Thanks to the reduction of chlorine emissions and the circulation of nature, the ozone concentration is rising rapidly. By 2019, the ozone hole over Antarctica has been reduced to 3.9 million square miles.

However, the CFC ban and the self-healing ability of the atmosphere will not always prevail. Chemicals that replace HCFCs, such as tetrafluoroethane gas now used in car air conditioners, can cause global warming. In response, many companies are developing new chemical substances that are friendly to ozone and climate. In the future, we may be able to cool the earth while protecting the ozone layer that shields us from solar radiation.

Five famous environmental disasters that humans and nature recover together(4)

Deepwater horizon explosion Later, marine microbes helped humans clean up the oil pool covering the Gulf of Mexico.

Recovery start time: 2010

Disaster background: Two days before the 40th Earth Day, the Deepwater Horizon deep-sea oil drilling platform exploded, causing the worst in US history Of offshore oil spills. Beginning on April 20, 2010, it took nearly three months for BP to seal the subsea wellhead. By then, at least 134 million gallons of crude oil had leaked into the Gulf of Mexico. The polluted waves affected 1,300 miles of coastal areas and brought devastating disasters to coastal communities. As many as 102,000 birds died.

Recovery: As the crude oil leak occurred about 50 miles offshore, before the land was polluted, the seawater had already decomposed part of the leaked crude oil. At the same time, volatile chemicals (such as butane) also quickly evaporate. The latest estimates issued by the Ocean Energy Administration show that 40% of the spilled oil is dispersed in this way. Petroleum hydrocarbon degradation microorganisms also play a role.

Christopher Reddy, a marine chemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, said: “This shows that nature has a strong adaptability.” Reddy believes that the ultimate impact of the oil spill is not that people As bad as imagined.

When nature is working, the cleaners are also using dust removal trucks and petroleum-corrosive chemicals to treat oil slick. BP’s multi-billion-dollar settlement also continues to fund ocean restoration. One organization that received direct funding assistance is GulfCorps. This is an employment project of the Nature Conservation Association and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to provide training for local youth during the recovery period.

The large-scale offshore drilling project was also delayed for many years because of this oil spill. In order to prevent the drilling platform from leaking again, NOAA established a satellite mapping project to track the flow of oil in the open sea. This technology, combined with the protection of dunes and wetlands for businesses and houses, should help the region better respond to possible disasters in the past and in the future.