The accident at Chernobyl on April 26th, 1986 is the very button of fashion at the moment, what with the eponymous HBO miniseries. Now, I’d hate for you to think of me as a bandwagon jumper in choosing now to write something about Chernobyl, but rest assured, I was interested in Chernobyl long before the series. Admittedly, this makes me something much worse than a bandwagon jumper — a nuclear accident hipster, the worst kind of hipster — but it does mean that I recently read Adam Higgenbotham’s Midnight in Chernobyl. This is an excellent blow-by-blow account of the disaster that reads more like a thriller, and reveals much behind the decision making at each stage of the crisis. Moreover, just this June I finally visited the Chernobyl exclusion zone and the abandoned town of Pripyat.
Ideas grow in the public consciousness by a slow accretion. What was fringe yesterday slowly gains ground, inch by inch, until it becomes an accepted part of the mainstream. One way to understand what’s becoming mainstreamed is to extensively survey public opinion, and share what you find in the impenetrable jargon of academia. Another, quicker way is just to see whatever shit Kanye West has been tweeting recently.