This book presents a history of radioecology, from World War II through to the critical years of the Cold War, finishing with a discussion of recent developments and future implications for the field.
Drawing on a vast array of primary sources, the book reviews, synthesizes and discusses the implications of the ecological research supported by the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) of the United States government, from World War II to the early 1970s. This was a critical period in the history of ecology, characterized by a transition from the older, largely descriptive studies of communities of plants and animals to the modern form of the science involving functional studies of energy flow and mineral cycling in ecosystems. This transition was in large part due to the development of radioecology, which was a by-product of the Cold War and the need to understand and predict the consequences of a nuclear war that was planned but has never occurred. The book draws on important case studies, such as the Pacific Proving Grounds, the Nevada Test Site, El Verde in Puerto Rico, the Brookhaven National Laboratory and recent events such as the nuclear disasters at Chernobyl and Fukushima. By revisiting studies and archived information from the Cold War era, this book offers lessons from the history of radioecology to provide background and perspective for understanding possible present-day impacts from issues of radiation risks associated with nuclear power generation and waste disposal. Post-Cold War developments in radioecology will be also reviewed and contrasted with the AEC-supported ecology research for further perspectives.
This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of radioecology, environmental pollution, environmental technology, bioscience and environmental history.
2. Early Studies in Radioecology
3. The Pacific Proving Grounds
4. The Nevada Test Site
5. Alaska Coast
6. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory
7. El Verde, Puerto Rico
8. The Brookhaven National Laboratory
9. The Savannah River Ecology Laboratory
10. Radioecology Since the Cold War
11. Summary and Conclusions
Patrick C. Kangas is a systems ecologist with interests in the structure and function of novel ecosystems. From 1990 until his retirement in 2021, he was an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Technology at the University of Maryland. He has conducted research in Puerto Rico, Brazil, and Belize and has published more than 100 papers, book chapters and contract reports on a variety of environmental subjects. He is the editor of Ecological Engineering: Principles and Practice (2004).