Wo die Atomare Wildschweine Wandern

That's where the atomic boar roam, for those of you who are Kultur-challenged

1 min read

Given a choice between nuclear power and being pure green, Germans much prefer greenliness to radiation risks. But given the choice between actually ingesting radioactive materials and having to give up their beloved boar sausage, evidently Germans would rather go nuclear.

Ultimately it's not such a funny story, despite the humorous spin sometimes put on it. Southern Germany, where the boar population has been soaring (for reasons that go beyond the scope of this post), happens to have been the part of the country most affected by Chernobyl fallout. It turns out that radioactive materials tend to concentrate in truffles and mushrooms, rather the way certain pollutants concentrate in shellfish. Unfortunately just those delicacies are what the Bavarian wild pig most loves, and when meat from the most proficient of the truffle sniffers ends up in Wurst, there's a problem for those who can't live without their boar sausage.

Last year, the German government paid hunters about a half million dollars to compensate them for boar meat deemed too radioactive to sell. But of course less radioactive sausage--wait a minute? wasn't somebody just saying there's no safe level of radioactivity?--is still ending up on dinner plates.

POSTSCRIPT, Aug. 6 (Hiroshima Day): The story is getting unfunnier all the time. Russian environmental officials warned yesterday that radiation also is concentrated in some of the forests that are getting consumed by the wildfires sweeping much of the country's western regions, as temperatures have soared to unheard-of highs. Some of that released radiation will be blown into Europe. It's always amusing to poke fun at Germans' love affair with the boar and their complex attitudes about greenliness, but really this is no laughing matter.

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This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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