A Haunting Drone’s-Eye View of Chernobyl

Back in August, Col­in Mar­shall remarked that drones “have drawn bad press in recent years: as the intru­sive tools of the com­ing sur­veil­lance state, as deliv­er­ers of death from above in a host of war zones, as the pur­chase-deliv­er­ing har­bin­gers of world dom­i­na­tion by Amazon.com.” “But as with any tech­nol­o­gy,” Col­in went on to note, “you can also use drones for the good, or at least for the inter­est­ing.” Like cap­tur­ing mes­mer­iz­ing aer­i­al footage of major cities around the world, cities such as Los Ange­les, New York, Lon­don, Bangkok & Mex­i­co City. Now let’s add Cher­nobyl to the list.

While work­ing on a recent 60 Min­utes episode, film­mak­er Dan­ny Cooke vis­it­ed Cher­nobyl, and, using a drone (a DJI Phan­tom 2 and GoPro 3+, to be pre­cise), he cap­tured haunt­ing footage of the city dev­as­tat­ed by the nuclear melt­down of April 26, 1986. Cher­nobyl has cooled off enough that jour­nal­ists and sci­en­tists can now vis­it the area for short peri­ods of time. (Biol­o­gists, for exam­ple, are active­ly study­ing the crip­pling effects radi­a­tion has had on Cher­nobyl’s ani­mal life, and pro­duc­ing dis­turb­ing videos show­ing how birds are devel­op­ing tumors, and spi­ders are spin­ning asym­met­ri­cal webs.) As for when Cher­nobyl will be tru­ly hab­it­able again, the best guess is anoth­er 20,000 years. By that time, the detri­tus will have ful­ly giv­en way to nature, and, if peo­ple still roam the earth, they’ll get some­thing close to a fresh start.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.