sábado, 31 de agosto de 2013


By Hugo M. G. von Österreich und von Toskana
August 31, 2013

A honey bee (Apis mellifera) extracting nectar. Source: ..heaven awaits..

A shot was heard. It was late in the afternoon and there was a family of three enjoying the Summer evening outside in the backyard. Out of nowhere came a bullet that hit the man in the family in his right foot. 

He yelled as the lead went through the flesh leaving behind a perfect tiny hole. It was a calibre 22. 

The man quickly run into the house looking for rubbing alcohol in the family´s first aid kit. His wife was extremely worried as her husband was limping and dripping blood. 

The child had trailed them. The little boy, a creature of around 5 years of age, full of admiration and not realising of the situation, exclaimed:

-Hey, dad! How neat!!

-Son, this is reality!!! This is not the television!!! And I´m bleeding!! Cant you see this?, his father screamed at him as he held and shook with his hands the child´s face.

Such a story which really happened and was related to me by one of my students in a Biology class in a U.S. college where I used to teach in the 1990s, reminds me of the similar situation we are now facing with the disapearance of the honey bees. 

As the child in the story above, most people, if they do not say How neat!!!!, they remain untouched by the disturbing news, for they think it does not have anything to do with them. 

They are too absorbed in their lives which come close to following or becoming the virtual realities of the TV shows. People walk, eat, sleep, defecate and sometimes copulate, acting like robots, unfeeling. Most people do not really give a damn about the honey bees.

They take it for granted as it it was something that is happening in the TV set. To them, it looks like business as usual.

Some people, to get the guilt off their backs, often shrugging their shoulders, just bother to say:

Dont´we have the scientists to fix this problem?

But scientists are not gods. They are not something out of this world, full of logic and objectiveness. They do not act in isolation in outer space. They interact in a social milieu. They are the result of a social fabric, with the same ambitions, aches and pains of normal people. 

Should this not be the case, we would not have the mess we have in our hands.

Corporation-funded scientists are part of the problem. Some of these experts have invented and keep inventing thousands of chemicals upon chemicals every year, many of these substances are dangerous and most of which have never been tested. We already have enough to form mountains of hazardous substances around the Earth´s equator. 

As a result of industrialisation, intensive agriculture, commercial forestry and aquaculture, humans contaminate the environment with xenobiotics, electronic garbage, nuclear waste, urban sewage, toxic gases, etc.,etc., plus the intentional or accidental discharges, leaks or spills of industrial products, hazardous chemicals and oil. All of which have summed up to trigger the present environmental crisis. 

What is happening to the honey bees is actually a mirror to our own dumbness.

We must admit that we are all culprits. We all suffer from shortsightedness.

When new technological innovations, many of them useless and unnecessary, come out of the scientist´s laboratory, we run quickly to buy them as if our lives depended on possessing them. 

We all hop into the bandwagon. One fad gives way to another.

This is how we have accepted cellular phones that are making us sterile, packaged food that is making us sick, soft drinks that disrupt our pancreas turning us into diabetics and a endless chain of "neat" inventions that are supposed to "make our lives easier" when in fact we only enjoy piling them up in our homes. 

Sooner or later, we get tired of them and throw them away to be taken to the urban dump, adding further to the environmental problem, and those things we do keep, become our masters. We end up being enslaved by these inventions. 

We are too much in a hurry to get to the graveyard in our quest for the perfect machine, that in the long wrong it might chew us up.

Damn it we are so stupid!!!

What is really unfortunate is that this crisis, the death of the honey bees, is not a fiction tale, a thing that belongs in the TV screen or the cinema. 

It is real and it is happening right now around the world. And it concerns all of us. The health of the planet is really at stake.

Harbingers that something has gone wrong can be found everywhere.

And the most obvious sign that things are not going well is the bees that are dying right under our own noses. 

And what do we do besides recording and keeping track of how many are dying? 

Nothing. We continue with business as usual.

Now is the time to do a few simple things:
  • Keep your consumption to the basics.
  • Avoid travelling too much unless you have to or your livelihood depends on it.
  • Do not buy what you do not need.
  • Do not use any biocides or chemical fertilizers in your garden.
  • Plant flowers in your garden during Spring.
  • If you are a meat eater, do not consume animal flesh that comes from CAFOs. Or why not become a vegetarian? There is life after meat. You will notice it in your articulations as soon as you do.
  • Let your garden become a refuge for biodiversity.
  • Plant flowers in your garden. Honey bees are doing better in cities, according to some scientists. So your flowers will become food for the honey bees that visit urban areas. 
  • Plant at least a tree in your garden. 
  • If you are a farmer, make sure you leave wider undisturbed strips of land along and between tilled fields. These will serve as places of biodiversity and wild flowers will prosper providing nectar to honey bees.
  • Do not use any kind of sprays at home. 
  • Avoid plastics as much as possible.
  • Do not waste your energy looking for what your already have within you, your inner self. It will always be there waiting for you, it is just a matter of finding it. Explore your personal inner world, which is a universe in itself.
  • If you do not need a car, do not buy one. Get a bicycle instead or walk. We have neither.
  • Use public transportation as much as you can.
  • Maintain a close watch on what your politicians do.
  • Tell your politicians to make cities green, centers of biodiversity. There are many species that enjoy living close to us and we should be kind to them. They are really environmental bioindicators.
  • Get involved in any citizen´s associations that promotes ecological urbanism. The future is a city acting as a green, self sustaining unit.
  • Go green as much as possible. Talk, act and consume green.
  • Become aware of the natural environment that surrounds you.
  • Wake up from your state of dead intelligence. Try to become one with Mother Nature. Feel the ticking of Mother Earth.
  • Think before anything you do, especially shopping. We must get free from the spell of consumption.
  • Do not follow any fads.  Do not be afraid of "listening to your own drum", as Henry David Thoreau once said.
  • Connect your children to Mother Nature, not to electronic gadgets. Teach them to love Mother Nature.
  • Be yourself. Get in touch with your inner self.
  • Keep calm.

None of the above will immediately solve the crisis, but if we all did this at the same time, we would soon see some change.

We ourselves are not perfect. But these are some of the things we have done or do. 

Remember, someone has said that "happiness is not a matter of externals".

For us, looking at the grasses swaying in the wind, observing an earthworm in a heap of soil or admiring a drop of rain hanging at the tip of a leaf of a humble weed are more than enough to make us happy, elated. The emotion of connecting or feeling connected to the Mother of all of the mothers is wonderful and priceless!! 

We all need do something for the benefit of the Biosphere. it is time to set aside the talking and get busy doing something that will benefit everyone on this wonderful and beautiful planet.

If only we let Mother Nature takes its course in just a corner of a garden, it would help. We already have too many cemented spaces. 

Nature´s capacity to heal is one of the most amazing things on Earth. Mother Nature just needs time and be left alone to renew itself. 

 A window to ponder

Sadness can have different sources. One of the strongest is when a dear member of the family passes away. The death of a pet can also be painful. Each of us have had one way or another this deep emotion.

The crisis of the honey bees makes me quite sad. It moves me very deeply. I am admirer of these insects. It impresses me to see honey bees working hard, with such intensity performing their labour of pollination. They are the only ones that can do this job so perfectly, and for the benefit of the entire planet.

It is estimated that if people were paid to do the honey bee´s ecological service, pollinating by hand with a small brush each strawberry or any other fruits, it would cost over US$ 2.5 billion per year just in England. And the result would be fruits of poor quality. Honey bees do it perfectly. We need them indeed!

This year we saw few honey bees on our cherry tree during Spring. It has saddened us!! 

We should all be sad and doing our best to reverse this crisis. The honey bee´s death is also our own death!

I leave you with a couple of clips (Videos 1-2) about Honey Bees:  

                                                      Video 1. Who killed the honey bee?

                                                         Video 2. El silencio de las abejas.


Devillers J. & Pham-Delegue M.H. (Eds.) (2002). Honey Bees: Estimating the Environmental Impact of Chemicals. Taylor & Francis, London, UK. 332 p.

martes, 27 de agosto de 2013


By Gundhramns Hammer
August 27, 2013

Nigeria´s snake market. Source: Google Images.

When human greediness, economic interests, human population growth and ecological shortsightedness or blindness, sometimes along with hunger (food, status), meet the results can be very devastating on any nonhuman species that happens to stand in the way of any economic development scheme devised by man (Homo insapiens).

This is exactly has is happening to the snakes in Nigeria. People are hunting down and selling these squamate reptiles in such vast numbers (Video 1) in the local markets as if their snake populations were to last forever, as if snake numbers were infinite. 

Should this rate of destruction continue soon there will not be a single snake left. And as a result, the natural equilibrium will be shattered, for snakes play an important role in the control of other animal species such as pests (rodents). Pests from man´s economical point of view.

Since pest control is expensive, therefore the ecological services provided by snakes in natural ecosystems are very important. The price tag has yet to be determined. Undoubtedly the figures will surely be in billions of US dollars. And these services are free of charge! 

Nigerian conservationists, please take note and do something to protect the snakes before it is too late.

To give you an idea of what is happening to snakes in Nigeria, here is a BattaBox clip (Video 1) and its text:

Source: YouTube
View original

BattaBox heads down to the Nigeria Snake Market! While most people are rightly scared of snakes and their poisonous venom - for Nigerians and African Food - they can make a tasty dish.

"They sell snakes here!" explains Odunayo, our BattaBox presenter. "Nigerians - we sabi chop things o!"

Enormous bags of hundreds of different shapes, lengths and sizes of snakes - and customers (mostly women who own restaurants) all rush to the bags and grab as many as they can as fast as they can - before they are sold out. The Snake market is just outside of Lagos in Badagry.

"They bring the snakes from the Republic of Benin," says Bati who has been selling it in the Badagry market (near Nigeria's border with Benin) for many years now. And customers come from across South-West Nigeria like Ondo and Oyo state to buy.

"People really love snake! They come from far and wide to eat!" says one young woman is buying a large bag, full of snakes - "We buy from here and then use it to cook as Pepper Soup... its tastes to delicious and sweet - it tastes like fish."

One large snake can cost up to 1400 Naira ($9) and the small snake can cost as little as 500 Naira ($3). Eating snake is popularly thought of as good for the body - "if you eat snake, you will get more strength and look more healthy," Odunayo explains.

However, a recent study found that the snake population is crashing in Nigeria.

The causes are not known and similar severe declines in populations were found in the UK, France and Italy... but eating snakes in such numbers surely cannot help. And such declines, say environmentalists, has a massive ecological impact with considerable biodiversity loss.

But Odunayo buys her own snake to take home for her own favorite African food - pepper soup.

                                                       Video 1. Nigeria´s snake market.

It is important to let the government know your concern for the poorly managed populations of snakes in Nigeria. 

Future generations of Nigerians might not be able to see ophidians in the splendor of nature. Although most people are afraid of snakes we must remember that they are also our brethren. 

We all share the same planet. We humans are not the owners of Earth. We are just one species amongst thousands. Unfortunately we as a whole are not doing a good job in the upkeep of the Biosphere.

Please drop an E-mail to the Nigerian minister of Environment. 

Here is the information:

Honourable Minister of Environment Mrs. Hadiza Ibrahim 

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Akinpelu& Areo A. (2007). The Snakes of Osun Grove: A World Heritage Site in Osogbo, Nigeria. Rev. Viol. Tropi. (Int. J. Trop. Biol.), 55 (2): 717-721.

domingo, 25 de agosto de 2013


We, the Migratory Birds, your brethren on this planet you call Earth, need your help. 

Each Autumn we take our migratory journey from Europe to Africa and along the way there are some of your kind that kill us by the thousands

Our children who were born this past Spring in Europe are flying with us for the first time this year and we are afraid they will get caught in the traps set by humans in Egypt, Malta and other places.

We, the Migratory Birds, appeal to you through this blog and Gundhramns Hammer (E-rastrillo) for your help.

We have figured that if all of the visitors who come to these blogs would sign the Petition underneath, your pressure on the callous humans behind your governments would do something to ease the peril of our annual journey. We would be eternally grateful to you!

So the choice is yours. But do remember, should we, the Migratory Birds, ever disappear from the face of this planet, the responsability would fall on your shoulders. 

Now it is the time to do something. Tomorrow might be too late.

This is your chance to make this world a better place for all of us who inhabit this beautiful planet, the one we are happy to sing to every Spring.

Please, sign the petition/Bitte, unterzeichnen Sie die Petition: HERE/ HIER.

Eternally thankful to you.

May your passage on this Earth be long and wonderful!

Your brethren,

The Migratory Birds

martes, 20 de agosto de 2013


 NABU-Vogelexperte Lars Lachmann im Interview 


Fangnetze auf 700 Kilometer Länge und skrupellose Freizeitschützen lassen die Mittelmeerküste Ägyptens zu einer immer schwerer zu überwindenden Barriere für Zugvögel werden. Die Situation hat sich in den vergangenen Jahren in einem Umfang verschärft, dass NABU-Vogelexperte Lars Lachmann die Bestände einiger Arten gefährdet sieht.

Bereits zu Zeiten der Pharaonen wurden in Ägypten Zugvögel gefangen. Warum sollte man gerade jetzt etwas dagegen unternehmen? 


Die Fangmethoden haben sich seit der Zeit der Pharaonen grundlegend geändert: Aus Pfeil und Bogen sind Schusswaffen mit hoher Präzision und Reichweite geworden und aus vereinzelten Fangnetzen eine kaum überwindbare Barriere entlang fast der gesamten Mittelmeerküste Ägyptens. Und das ist der Kern des Problems: Während den vergleichsweise wenigen Jägern früher nur geringe Mengen von Tieren ins Netz gingen, hat der Vogelfang mittlerweile eine Dimension erreicht, die nicht mehr vertretbar ist. Und die Entwicklung der Fangmethoden bleibt nicht stehen: Ohne Regulierung steht zu befürchten, dass bald kaum ein Vogel mehr seinen Häschern entkommt. Übrigens steigt auch deren Zahl rapide, da man auf diese Weise schnelles Geld verdienen kann.

Welche Arten sind vom Vogelfang in Ägypten am meisten betroffen? 


Es gibt viele Vogelarten, deren Bestände vom europäischen Festland aus komplett nach Südosten ziehen, zum Beispiel Neuntöter, Sumpfrohrsänger oder Gelbspötter. Diese Arten sind besonders gefährdet. Natürlich werden nicht nur deutsche Vögel gefangen, sondern auch solche aus östlichen EU-Mitgliedstaaten und anderen Staaten Osteuropas. Hauptzielarten der Wilderer in Ägypten sind Wachteln und Turteltauben. Diese werden gefangen oder geschossen. Allerdings nehmen die Fänger auch alles andere, was ihnen in die Netze fliegt, gerne mit. Besonders häufig werden Neuntöter, Nachtigallen und verschiedene Grasmücken gefangen.

Muss man sich um die Bestände der betroffenen Vögel Sorgen machen? 


Die Vögel werden auf den Märkten als Deilikatesse angeboten.

Auf jeden Fall. Es ist sehr wahrscheinlich, dass es bei vielen Vogelarten angesichts der schieren Masse getöteter Vögel einen negativen Einfluss auf die Brutbestände in Deutschland und anderen Staaten Europas gibt. Natürlich können Arten, die bei uns keine Probleme haben und ausreichend geeignete Lebensräume zum Brüten vorfinden, solche massiven Verluste eher kompensieren. So würde ich hoffen, dass die Bestände von Mönchsgrasmücke oder Zilpzalp trotzdem nicht abnehmen. Aber die Mehrheit unserer Vogelarten hat schon bei uns mit Lebensraumverlust, intensiver Land- und Forstwirtschaft oder den Auswirkungen des Klimawandels zu kämpfen, zum Beispiel Fitis, Nachtigall, Steinschmätzer oder Ziegenmelker. Diese Arten können dem massiven Fang dann nichts mehr entgegensetzen und werden noch stärker zurückgehen.

Verstoßen die Vogeljäger gegen geltendes Recht? 


Der Großteil der Jagd, wie sie derzeit durchgeführt wird, ist nach ägyptischen Gesetzen illegal, damit Wilderei. So gibt es Regeln für Mindestabstände zwischen Fangnetzen und maximale Netzhöhen. Diese werden aber nicht eingehalten, sonst könnte es ja nicht dieses durchgängige Netz entlang der Küste geben. Ägypten hat zudem zahlreiche internationale Konventionen zum Natur- und Vogelschutz unterzeichnet, die laut ägyptischer Verfassung unmittelbar national zu gelten hätten. Verstöße dagegen werden in der Praxis jedoch nicht geahndet.

Darüber hinaus fehlt es in Ägypten an klaren Regelungen für eine legale Jagd, Zuständigkeiten sind unklar und eine Durchsetzung der bestehenden Regelungen findet fast überhaupt nicht statt. Hier gibt es bereits gute Vorschläge ägyptischer Experten, allerdings fehlte bisher der politische Wille, diese aufzugreifen und in Gesetzesform zu bringen. Internationaler Druck und Hilfsangebote können das vielleicht ändern.

Wie erklärst Du Dir die plötzliche Zunahme des Vogelfangs in Ägypten? 


Zwischen 2008 und 2010 wurde von Vogelschützern vor Ort eine leichte Entspannung der Situation der beobachtet. Wir führen dies auf das Auftreten der Vogelgrippe zurück und die Furcht der Jäger, sich mit dem Erreger zu infizieren. 2011 ist die Lage dann leider komplett aus den Fugen geraten. Dies hing vermutlich mit dem geringen Preis und der guten Verfügbarkeit chinesischer Fangnetze zusammen, die ab diesem Zeitpunkt großflächig Anwendung fanden. Hinzu kam der „arabische Frühling“, der parallel dazu zu einer Schwächung der Ordnungsmacht und zu einer wirtschaftlichen Krise führte.

Kann man den Menschen verübeln, wenn Sie aus Hunger oder Arbeitslosigkeit zu Wilderern werden? 


Vogelhändler in der Nähe von El Alamein.

Die zentralen Akteure des Vogelmordes in Ägypten sind nicht hungerleidende Menschen, sondern skrupellose Geschäftemacher und Freizeitjäger. Gleichwohl rufen wir nicht zu einem Tourismusboykott oder Ähnlichem auf, was die wirtschaftliche Situation der Menschen vor Ort zusätzlich verschlechtern würde. Stattdessen wollen wir mit einer Petition Druck auf die verantwortlichen Stellen ausüben, die Einhaltung geltender Gesetze und Abkommen durchzusetzen. Darüber hinaus wollen wir mit einer Spendenkampagne den Vogelschutz in Ägypten fördern, um die Menschen über die fatalen Konsequenzen ihres Handelns zu informieren und den Jägern Alternativen zur Vogeljagd aufzuzeigen: Sie müssen begreifen, dass lebende Vögel mehr wert sind als tote.

Im Moment klagen bereits die Vogelfänger selber, dass sie immer mehr Aufwand betreiben müssen, um die Vögel zu fangen, weil es weniger werden. Das ist nicht nachhaltig. Auf diese Weise können wilde Vögel bald gar nicht mehr zur Nahrungsversorgung bedürftiger Menschen beitragen. Hier bedarf es passender Regeln, die den wirklich Bedürftigen in begrenztem Umfang Jagd erlaubt, aber die kommerziellen Auswüchse beseitigt.

Was wird der NABU noch unternehmen, um den Vogelmord zu stoppen? 


Neben Petition und Spendenkampagne werden wir auch international, über Regierungen und UNO-Konventionen Einfluss auf Ägypten nehmen. Dabei helfen uns unsere Verbindungen aus dem Netzwerk von BirdLife International.

Vor Ort werden wir die Arbeit unserer BirdLife Partnerorganisation „Nature Conservation Egypt“ (NCE) unterstützen. Unser erstes Ziel lautet hier, ein kontinuierliches Monitoring des Vogelfangs am Mittelmeer zu gewährleisten, denn ohne belastbare Zahlen ist es kaum möglich, die Missstände wirksam zu bekämpfen. Auch durch Lobbyarbeit werden wir Einfluss nehmen. Konkret wollen wir dafür sorgen, dass bestehende Vorschriften durchgesetzt werden, und das Jagdgesetz dahingehend geändert wird, dass Fangmethoden, Fangquoten und -lizenzen im Sinne einer nachhaltigen Jagd festgelegt werden.

Zusätzlich fordern wir die Bundesregierung dazu auf, Maßnahmen zur Vermeidung des Vogelmords in Ägypten zu einem Förderschwerpunkt deutscher Institutionen im Land zu machen. Wir planen mit NCE Projekte vor Ort zur Umweltbildung und zu alternativen Einkommensmöglichkeiten zu entwickeln und durchzuführen.


miércoles, 14 de agosto de 2013


August 14, 2013

              To the forgotten heroes who gave their lives at Chernobyl

Pripyat. Source:

Pripyat (Kievan district, Ukraine) was once a town teeming with life. It was constructed in 1970 to serve as a settlement for the staff and construction workers of the Chernobyl atomic power plant. It was known officially as "Atomograd", being the ninth of its kind in the Soviet Union.

By 1985, Pripyat had a human population of more than 47.000 inhabitants. People had all the conveniences, from shopping malls and education centres to theatres and sporting complexes. 

Being a well planned city, with broad streets, there were no traffic jams in Pripyat as in any European and U.S. cities had at that time.

All of this changed abruptly  on April 26, 1966 at 1: 23 h. The 4th unit of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (CNPP) exploded, completely destroying this reactor.

The radioactive magma from the reactor sunk and kept moving like a giant nuclear snake crawling underneath in the basement, it had to be cooled and contained somehow. 

Many brave people from different parts of the Soviet Union gave their lives working day and night to avoid that the entire nuclear complex exploded, an explosion that would have completely erased all life in Europe. These people are the forgotten heroes (Videos 1-2).

                                                         Video 1. The battle of Chernobyl.

                                                          Video 2. La batalla de Chernobyl.

There was a fire that lasted nearly two weeks, during which radioactive isotopes were thrown into the air and surrounding areas. The atmosphere was contaminated with 190 tonnes of radioactive material (isotopes of strontium, cesium, plutonium, iodine, and microscopic pieces of uranium) from the burning 4th reactor.

Chernobyl nuclear disaster is considered to be the worst of its kind in the history of nuclear power. Worst than the recent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster occurred in Japan on March 11, 2011, according to some experts. 

As a result of this nuclear accident, people had to be evacuated from the town of Pripyat. It has been uninhabited by humans ever since. 

The local authorities sometimes drive through the ghost town, leaving only the vehicle tracks on the ice and snow behind them during Winter.

Contrary to what most people would think, Chernobyl and its surrounding areas are not a barren land like a lunar landscape. Chernobyl and Pripyat have life. Life is a force that challenges even the most hostile environments.

Nature has reclaimed what it belonged to her in the first place. Plants have invaded the streets and buildings. No longer bothered by any human beings, animals have now come to occupy the abandoned city of Pripyat.

We have found the following information on Pripyat and also a set of photos of this ghost town:

View original

The town of Pripyat belongs to the Kievan district (Kievskaya oblast) of Ukraine. It is situated on the right bank of the Pripyat, which flows into the Dnieper.

The town itself is young, yet the territory it was built on is very old. Known as Polesie (lit. ‘forest land’), this endless terrain of woodland and marshes stretches across the south-east of Belarus and northern Ukraine. Some scholars believe that it was in Polesie that the Eastern Slavs appeared as the distinctive ethnic and cultural group. More than a thousand years ago this territory was a part of Kievan Russia, the early medieval forerunner of modern states of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The adjacent areas are rich in archeological and historical sites, ranging from the stone age to the later Middle ages The nearby town of Chernobyl, whose name was given first to the power plant and later became a synonym of the greatest ecological catastrophe humankind has ever seen, possesses the history of many centuries. From the Middle ages it had a strong Jewish population whose religious leaders are still venerated by the Jews. Thus the territories contaminated by the 1986 nuclear disaster are the heartland of East Europe in terms of ethnic, cultural, religious and political history.

Chernobyl is the name for the catastrophe, yet Pripyat is the most visible symbol of it. It was founded on the 4th of February 1970 as the settlement for the construction workers and staff of the Chernobyl power plant. The latter was started in the same year – first as construction site, then as one of the biggest nuclear electric power stations in Europe. Pripyat was officially called atomograd (‘the town of the atomic scientists and workers’), the ninth settlement of the kind in the USSR.

Still, the new town was far from being a mere industrial settlement. Soon it became an important junction and the main staging post for the whole of Polesie. The existing railway station of Yanov was close to the city. The newly built river port immediately extended the river Pripyat fairway that amounted up to 591 km (370 miles) in 1976. The convenient highway network in the area made it suitable for the passenger bus operation between the adjacent villages and towns. For instance, the timetable for May 21 1982 lists 52 departures and arrivals of the 14 daily services.

By November 1985 the town of Pripyat had 47500 citizens of 25 ethnic groups. The annual increase in population was more than 1500. Half of them were babies born to the citizens, the rest being the settlers who moved to Pripyat from various parts of the Soviet Union. The town’s population was expected to reach the figure of 75000-78000 in due course.

It was natural that the people aimed to settle in Pripyat. Designed as the exemplary socialist town built on a blanc space, it had all the commodities and attractions a Soviet city could dream of. It was frequently visited by the excursions and official delegations of the similar new-built settlements and cities, who studied Pripyat’s experience and styled itself after her.

The streets and avenues received the traditional Soviet names. Apart from the high street, which was to bear the name of Lenin, one would find People’s Friendship Street and Stalingrad Heroes’ Street. There were the Embankment Street and the Prospects of Builders and Enthusiasts. One of the main streets was named after Lesya Ukrainka, the 19th-century Ukrainian poet. Last but not least, the nuclear theme was not forgotten. The city had Kurchatov Street for Igor Kurchatov was the founding father of the Soviet nuclear programme.

Pripyat is a monocentric town. The administrative buildings, such as the gorsovet (Town’s council) and gorkom (Town’s committee of the Communist Party) were situated in the centre of the city, along with the cultural and recreational facilities, namely Prometheus Cinema, GPKiO (City’s Park of Culture and Leisure) and Energetic Culture Centre, which housed the theatre, the library, the dancing and meeting halls and various hobby clubs. The department stores and supermarkets were built next to them, and the Polissya hotel as well (“Polissya’ is the Ukrainian name for Polesie).

Pripyat was the town of architectural innovations. The new projects were designed for and put to test in Pripyat before they were adopted as the Soviet standard. There were 19 culture centres of the Energetic project and 11 cinemas similar to the Prometheus all over the former USSR. It was planned that a vast number of public facilities would be built and open by the end of 1988. The list included two shopping centres (one of them was to be called Pripyat Dawns), the two sporting complexes (Chernigov and Pripyatian respectively), the Pioneer’s Palace (children’s education and leisure centre), the new cinema of two halls, the Jubilee Palace of Arts and the October Hotel. At the corner of Lesya Ukrainka Street and Builders’ Prospect the 52-metre high TV broadcasting tower was to be built.

The city planning of Pripyat followed the ‘triangle principle’ invented by the Moscow architect Nikolai Ostozhenko and his studio. Later on, when the Pripyat’s project was being adopted, the Kievan architects introduced some alterations into it. That made the street layout of Pripyat unique, despite the fact that a dozen of Soviet newly built cities follow the same ‘triangle principle’ of construction. Some neighbourhood units of Pripyat have exact replicas in the two other atomgrads (Kurchatov and Semipalatinsk), the cities of Volgodonsk and Togliatti.

The ‘triangle principle’ is based on an apt combination of the living towers and the standard blocks of flats. It saves much land, which, in its own turn, may be turned into the green areas and gardens. Free spaces between the structures make the urban area less visually dense. The traditional idea behind the high-rise buildings was to save land; on the contrary, Soviet architects, wanted to make life more comfortable. They aimed to achieve this both with the use of extensive spaces between the blocks and with the equiangular thoroughfare planning. It is interesting to know that the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev paid considerable interest to the city planning, and used to give some personal advice to the architects. Traffic jams, which by the early 1970s became the inevitable trouble of any European or American city, were one of Brezhnev’s concerns. Although the cities of the USSR had yet not been suffering from it, Brezhnev expected the progress of the Soviet car industry to jam the Soviet streets in the coming 15 to 20 years, and the specialists considered developing new towns to be particularly vulnerable. Therefore the equiangular principle of the street layout was employed as a standard rule of the Soviet city planning. Pripyat and ten other new cities, which were styled after her, were made traffic jam safe: indeed, towns like Volgodonsk and Togliatti are never jammed during the rush hours even today. Nor would Pripyat…

View original

Overview of city.

View of the ChNPP.

Stele at the edge of the city.

The house at the Lenina ave.


Radiation hazard sign.

Sculptures at the Lenina ave.

"Kolosok" store.

Lenina ave.


So-called "White" house and Rainbo...


View to the Lenina ave.

A tree inside the PC "Energetic".

Gymnasium of the PC "Energetic".

Bldg. #5 at the Heroes of Stalingrad street.

Bldg. #5 at the Heroes of Stalingrad street.

Heroes of Stalingrad street.

Builders avenue.

"Lazurny" swimming pool.

A clock on the "Lazurny" swimming pool r...

Stained glass at the "`Pripyat" cafe.

Prometeus cinema.

Consumer centre.

Post box.

Consumer centre.

Consumer centre, interior.

Consumer centre, moss.

Lenina ave.


A death toll of 985,000 human lives

"Our Friend the Atom", as a Walt Disney´s show requested by the Eisenhower administration used to call the championing the use of nuclear power, can become sometimes very unfriendly. 

And when the atom does not obey man, its power can be terrifying and destructive. Pripyat remains a prime example of this.

Yablokov et al. (2009) give a comprehensive account of the consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe for humans and the environment. 

After a detailed study, these scientists have estimated a horrific death toll of 985,000 humans, mostly from cancer. More than what the International Atomic Energy Agency claims, around 4,000.

And the radioactive contamination that showered the region will last for hundreds of centuries to come. 

Because some of the radionuclides have radioactive half-lives ranging from 20,000 to 200,000 years, their concentrations “will remain practically the same virtually forever", indicate Yablokov et al. (2009).

All of this is basically kept in the dark. The nuclear lobby has tremendous political clout around the world. It is even more powerful than the food industry lobbyists.

Should people know the truth what is really cooking in its domains, nobody would ever want nuclear reactors in their backyards. 

We had better watch out and keep an eye on "Our Friend the Atom".


Mara W. (2011). Perspectives on the Chernobyl Disaster: Legacy and Impact on the Future of Nuclear Energy. Marshall Cavendish Corporation, Tarrytown, NY, USA. 111 p.

Nelson D. E. (2010). Perspectives on Modern World History: Chernobyl. 1st Edition. Greenhaven Press, Gale Cengage Learning, Farmington Hills, MI, USA. 220 p.

Onishi Y., Voitsekhovich O. V. & Zheleznyak M. J. (Eds.) (2007). Chernobyl - What Have We Learned? The Successes and Failures to Mitigate Water Contamination over 20 Years. Environmental Pollution 12. Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands. 289 p.

Yablokov A., Nesterenko V. B., Nesterenko A. V. & Sherman-Nevinger J. D. (2009). Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment. Ann. New York Acad. Sci., vol. 1181: 1- 327.


The posting of stories, commentaries, reports, documents and links (embedded or otherwise) on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such posted material or parts therein. The information herein contained is for educational and/or entertainment purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information. These terms and conditions of use are subject to change at anytime and without notice.