Viridian Note 00269: Savannah Ecology Lab

Bruce Sterling []

Key concepts: Viridian Involuntary Parks, South Carolina, nuclear waste, thriving biodiversity

Attention Conservation Notice: Another Note about involuntary parks. These links have nothing to do with the article, and you could easily waste a three-day weekend surfing some of these things.


A swell primer on Wexelblat Disasters in the Washington Post.

Transorganic, biomorphic Viridian darlings Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau were the hit of SIGGRAPH 02001 with their "Riding the Net" verbal search-engine whatchamacallit.

The IDEO Dilbert cubicle. A comic design breakthrough that simply had to happen. Or something.

Bioneers conference coming up, and Julia will be starring. "Float like a butterfly, sting like a chainsaw."

More design-contest mischief from Adbusters. design/opensource.html

"DeScope — A Cranky Journal of Themed Entertainment and
Design." As long as you're wandering around in their
wonderfulness, check out their "Zen-Like Aphorisms That
Sound Pithy but Have No Meaning."

Some downright fabulous computer-graphic images of imaginary bug-like constructions.


"Wildlife finds safe haven on dangerous acres

"By Tom Kenworthy USA TODAY


"For Whit Gibbons, a University of Georgia ecologist, and Cameron Young, a graduate student, it's just another critter-rich day in one of the nation's most unusual outdoor labs.

    "The two herpetologists are among dozens of scientists attached to the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, a research facility in the middle of a 300-square-mile federal property carved out as a nuclear weapons plant site a half-century ago. For much of the Cold War, the Savannah River Site, 20 miles southeast of Augusta, Ga., produced plutonium and tritium for atomic bombs.

    "As a result, it is one of the most heavily polluted places on earth. (((Wildlife thrives in areas humans have ruined and are too cautious to enter. See Viridian Notes 00242 on the Berlin wall death strip, Note 00234 on the Korean Demilitarized Zone, Note 00185 on the Adamello Glacier, Note 00166 on Chernobyl, and Note 00023 in which we first formulated the "involuntary park" concept.)))

"But in a grand irony, this facility — along with a
handful of other large weapons plants in Colorado,
Washington state, Idaho and Tennessee that were walled
off from the outside world for decades — also is a
treasure-trove of biological diversity.

    "One unintended benefit of the race to produce weapons of mass destruction has been the protection of huge islands of wildlife habitat. With the arms race largely over, these sites, for all their ghastly contaminants, are increasingly being recognized as key refuges for wildlife largely unaffected by the nuclear and chemical pollution.

    "Ninety percent of the Savannah River site has been virtually undisturbed for decades. It contains a rich mix of ecosystems: hardwood and pine forests, Carolina bay wetlands, cypress-tupelo swamps.

"The plant and animal life is breathtaking — and has
been documented by the Savannah River Ecology
Laboratory since the early 1950s, with most research
conducted outside of highly contaminated areas. Here,
there are more than 240 species of birds, more than

100 species of reptiles and amphibians, nearly 100 species of freshwater fish. A creek running through the site has the greatest diversity of invertebrates of any in the Western Hemisphere. (((They glow in the dark, but they're there.)))

"The largest alligator ever found in South Carolina —
more than 13 feet long — came from here, and the
largemouth bass are an angler's dream. These are not
nuclear mutants, simply specimens grown large because
they are not hunted or fished. 'It's a pretty simple formula,' Gibbons says. 'The best protection for the environment is no people.' (((see Viridian Principle: There Is No One So Green As the Dead.)))

    "What about having all this surrounding a plant struggling to deal with 35 million gallons of high-level nuclear waste and a devil's brew of toxic chemicals? 'It's ironical, it's paradoxical,' he says." (((Get used to it.)))

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