Researchers at federal sites such as Oak Ridge National Laboratory first developed many of the concepts and tools that ecologists still use today, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
“The study of ecology is likely to evoke images of recycling signs or the ‘blue marble’ Earth from space associated with the environmental movement of the 1960s,” the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science said in an article published online on June 28. “But in reality, ecology as a field largely developed to meet the need to monitor radioactive contamination in the Atomic Age.”
The federal government had a major knowledge gap after World War II, according to the article, which was written by Shannon Brescher Shea, senior writer/editor in DOE’s Office of Science. Specifically, the United States government needed to know more about the consequences of nuclear weapons use and production, from the effects of fallout to waste disposal.
The Atomic Energy Commission’s national laboratories were logical places to answer these questions, the article said. [Read more…]