One of the most disturbing predictions following the near meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on April 26, 1986, was that cancer cases would eventually begin to rise in areas where fallout from the accident landed.
What no one suspected was that it would happen so soon, or that many of the first victims would be children. Two reports in Nature, one by the World Health Organisation and one by health officials in Belarus, the ex-Soviet Republic immediately downwind from Chernobyl, indicate that childhood thyroid cancer has jumped from an average of four cases a year to about 50.
DISASTERS IN THE THIRD WORLD In the Third World, droughts and floods are not the unexpected disasters we always imagine. In the Sahel region of Africa, drought is practically part of the environmental cycle, and in Asia everyone knows that floods will occur regularly.
NICOTINE ADDICTION A large-scale campaign to alert smokers to the dangers of filling the lungs with carcinogenic smoke has been undertaken in many countries. Cigarette promotions have been banned on television in several major areas, and there has been endless discussion of how to discourage children from taking up the habit.
AN OBSESSION WITH REPTILES J John Cheetham’s magnificent obsession with reptiles began when he was a schoolboy in his hometown of Oldham, Lancashire. A glimpse from the top of a bus of alligators basking in the sun at Manchester’s famous Belle Vue Zoo set his imagination racing. He took every opportunity of visiting the zoo, and the more he saw of the creatures that seemed to have stepped out of the remote past, the more his fascination grew, until it embraced all reptiles. When he was 11, he bought a baby alligator from a local pet shop.
– EARTHQUAKES – Earthquakes are probably one of the most frightening and destructive happenings of nature that man experiences. The effects of an earthquake are often terrible. Earthquakes have caused the death of many human beings, much suffering, and great damage.
– A NATIONAL DISEASE – Julia Elliott looks at television. At any time between four in the afternoon and midnight, at least ten million viewers are sure to be watching television; this figure can even rise to 35 million at peak viewing hours. With such large numbers involved, there are those who would maintain that television is in danger of becoming a national disease.
– ACID RAIN – Acid rain is caused by burning coal or oil. When either fuel is burned, it releases poisonous gases which are carried up into the atmosphere and sometimes transported long distances. Over 3000 research projects have been carried out to look into acid rain, and a decision to tackle the problem has been taken in most of the Western European countries.