I want to be a wild pig. I want to be a radioactive wild pig. I want to create carbon dioxide emissions in natural forestland while I dig for roots and disturb the chemistry of the dirt. I want to rule the Fukushima exclusion zone with a uranium enriched iron hoof. I want to be impenetrable to fear. And rifle bullets. If wild pigs evolved to be radioactive due to the wreckage of Fukushima, maybe wild pigs will be the hero in all the disasters of humanity. Maybe Earth’s plan is to be overrun with wild, carbon-emitting, radiation thriving pigs. Maybe we are getting in the way?
Cockroaches are meant to be able to survive a nuclear bomb detonation. The caveat is that the cockroaches must be German cockroaches, which can survive sixteen times the radiation dose that would kill a person. This caveat is large enough to make the popular statement an urban legend. A better unusual fact would be that fruit flies have a genuine level of radiation resistance and would survive full frontal nuclear attack so long as they didn’t burn up in the explosion. What is not mentioned in discussions of irradiated cockroaches is that once a female carrying an ootheca of eggs is exposed to radiation, the eggs she lays will produce human sized cockroaches adept at selling property insurance in the nuclear autumn. Should the nuclear apocalypse overwhelm us, we can rest assured that neoliberalism, fruit flies and German cockroaches will survive.
Wels catfish are naturally quite large. Much like goldfish, they increase in size when living in larger habitats with less predators. The irradiated cooling ponds of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone are the perfect home for such adaptable fish. They swim comfortably in the involuntary park. They draw all kinds of attention, are given names like Boris, and feared without justification. These catfish are not radioactive. At all. They are large because they are happy. This is the inevitable winner classical Keynesian economics warns us about. Every transaction creates winners and losers, though some skew toward creating the latter.
Matsutake was the first organism to start growing in Hiroshima after the bomb was dropped. This is not why it is important in Japanese culture. Most mushrooms can grow anywhere, and can be cultivated with relative ease, but not matsutake. Difficult to cultivate and mainly harvested from wild sources it is given as gifts, imported into Japan at prices that could be seen as excessive. In her book The Mushroom At The End of The World, Anna Tsing finds that some Japanese people fantasise about eating the matsutake like they would any other food, demeaning its cultural power. Its expense makes its significance for fertility and longevity even more pressing. Matsutake is an appropriate, encouraged, wedding gift. Yet, as Tsing points out, modern matsutake harvesting does not reflect the cultural and economic weight it holds. It grows wild in the United States of America, where refugees and immigrants harvest it, some choosing to live off the land during harvesting season. Co-operation of the earth, animals, and people is necessary to harvest wild matsutake.
Five pigs were contaminated during the Goiania Incident. Brazilian pigs with luminescent blue dust sprinkled atop them. Domestic pigs, presumably, on a farm. Maybe not. People rioted when the young girl was buried, a special lead coffin prepared for the occasion. She was also contaminated during the incident, and like the pigs, would have had no idea what was happening. Unlike the pigs, people tried to stop her burial. They were concerned the radiation would leak out of her coffin and permeate through the soil, creeping up through their walls and accumulating in their ceilings. They were so concerned that they threw rocks at the burial of a six-year-old. It is possible there were more than five pigs contaminated during the Goiania Incident, though it would be rude to insinuate.