On Post-Apocalyptic Wastelands: Sightseeing in Chernobyl

The Fukushima disaster has hurt the credibility of nuclear power everywhere, threatening plans for its expansion in Italy and the U.K. among others. However, another consequence has been boosting tourism to Chernobyl. It will be the 25th anniversary of that disaster in a few days.

See Der Spiegel‘s striking photo essay on the subject. Le Monde has produced “La Zone”, a disturbing set of videos showing ordinary life in the now barren area.

Life has a way of imitating art and the science fiction fan in me can’t help but see in all these environmental disasters the scenes and warnings from our great post-apocalyptic writers. This also goes for the Deepwater Horizon disaster (Waterworld) in the Gulf of Mexico and the “toxic red sludge” disaster in Hungary.

It isn’t that novels and films dictate reality. But authors can crystallize and give concrete form to a given fear and – when actual catastrophe echoes that fear – photographers and journalists will consciously or unconsciously portray the event in line with the archetypes and images art has placed in our minds.

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