All things about the media, marketing, business, Japan and other musings by Mike in Tokyo Rogers.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Nuclear Panic Time? What is Important to You?
I often wonder what people are thinking and how they deem what is important to their lives or not. I never ever wonder if people watch too much TV (they do) or if they are brain-washed by the mass media (they are).
While searching for relative and credible information on the Fukushima nuclear accident and nuclear power in general, I found a forum called, in the expected creative fashion of physicists (I suppose) "Physics Forum" on the Internet that is used by various mathematicians, scientists, nuclear engineers and physicists to discuss the issues of the day. Some of the things discussed there I found quite interesting.
There were several threads about Fukushima. The discussions were quite level-headed, it seemed, with a healthy bashing of mass media sensationalism... Just like you've read on this very blog. There were also many scientific comments about the levels of radiation from Fukushima and how the situation was being way blown out of proportion.
I am going to list up just a few of those comments for you and then ask a question that seems to be bothering me concerning my question in the very first sentence of this post; I often wonder what people are thinking and how they deem what is important to their lives or not.
In one thread, several of the engineers were complaining how people are always confusing nuclear energy with nuclear weaponry and how that is a ploy used by the anti-nuclear power lobby to scare people. The over-whelming consensus was that people don't have a clue that there is no way to rationally compare a nuclear weapon and the process one uses to kill people with a nuclear power plant that is designed to generate electricity.
While the fundamental physics of the fission chain reaction in a nuclear weapon is similar to the physics of a controlled nuclear reactor, the two types of device must be engineered quite differently (see nuclear reactor physics). A nuclear bomb is designed to release all its energy at once, while a reactor is designed to generate a steady supply of useful power. While overheating of a reactor can lead to, and has led to, meltdown and steam explosions, the much lower uranium enrichment makes it impossible for a nuclear reactor to explode with the same destructive power as a nuclear weapon.
One comment, on the "Physics Forum" thread about Fukushima, from a nuclear engineer, was short and to the point. He wrote that the evidence concerning longevity in the USA and around the world since the beginning of the nuclear age does not show that nuclear power has shorten our lives at all. In fact, if the anti-nuclear crowd were to be believed, then our average lifespans would be getting shorter, when, in fact, life expectancy has increased anywhere from 11% ~ 15% in 50 years. He gave this chart below.
He added: "Obviously, background radiation, atmospheric testing, and nuclear power are major impacts on world health."
Of course, there are many other factors that would play a part in our lives getting longer such as food, water, environment and medicine.... But, I wonder, is there anyone of us who thinks that of the four I just mentioned, the only one that has gotten better over these 50 years can only be medicine. Certainly our environment, food and water has not gotten better.
One only need to look at the average American or the grocery store shelves full of processed, pumped-full-of-chemicals food that many people feed themselves to know that can't be good for you. Another engineer commented on how he thought it was curious that people get all riled up and up in arms about nuclear power plants but are basically silent when it comes to nuclear weapons testing.
I guess atmospheric tests were stopped before word "radiation" became synonym of "panic". For anti-nuclear activists, equating nuclear weapons and nuclear power has always been a key tactic. It's just that they haven't had anything to raise panic over in more than 20 years.
On that note, I strongly agree. Since 1945 to today there have been over 2055 (at least) above ground and underground nuclear weapons tests all over the world. That's an average of 31 nuclear explosions on our earth every year. This chart from Wikipedia on Nuclear Weapons Testing:
Nuclear weapons release thousands of times more energy (read: radiation) into the environment than nuclear power plants do or ever could; known nuclear weapons testing has occurred, on average, over 31 times a year, every year since 1945. We've had three nuclear power plant accidents.
The jury is still out on Fukushima. Many people's lives have been devastated and many people have lost loved ones in the earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima disaster... But, still, to this date, no one has died from exposure to radiation. Hopefully, no one will.
As far as Chernobyl is concerned, the Physics Forum moderator had this comment about claims that Chernobyl has caused cancers:
"...there is no Chernobyl effect visible in the epidemiological data - background is high enough to mask it."
The BBC documentary confirms the remarks by the moderator in that "According to standard models for radiation risk, the Chernobyl nuclear accident should have caused over 9,000 deaths due to cancer... Numbers have varied widely... But the most authoritative were published in 2005 by the Chernobyl Forum, an international forum of scientific agencies, including a number of UN bodies...."The total confirmed deaths were 47 and those were from the clean up crews at Chernobyl.
(Please also pay close attention to the information about children's cancer in the same part three.)
Continuing on, many will say that the discovery of irradiated tea in Kanagawa or other vegetables in Ibaraki are proof that the Fukushima accident is worse than reported. I have another thought on this notion.
We have a saying, "If you go looking for trouble, you'll find it." I think that now, since everyone is so concerned about Fukushima, that we are being much more careful and diligent in our checking of our immediate environment. But I want to postulate one idea that won't be comfortable for most people... I am wondering if this newly found radiation is not from Fukushima and we found it because we actually bothered to look. The fact is, it came from somewhere else.
I suppose we might never know. Like I said, if you go looking for trouble, you'll most probably find it.
Do not misunderstand what the purpose of this blog post is. I am not pro nor anti nuclear power. I do believe that the worst thing that could happen to us is a loss of cheap and clean energy. But the real purpose of this post is not to defend the nuclear industry. It is to go back to my comments at the very start of this post: "What is important to people?"
Effects of depleted uranium in mid east. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
Most people panic and crap their pants about Fukushima, but when their governments wage war and use nuclear weaponry, they say nothing.
It's a real head scratcher for me. What are these people thinking about? What is important to these people?
As these people stuff their face daily with food laced with chemicals, preservatives and other carcinogenic agents that they eagerly put into their own bodies; things they buy that are part and parcel of the processed foods, chips, pizza, etc., from the grocery store. They eagerly lunch daily on chemical trash from fast food establishments like McDonald's or the like. Then they wash it down with other chemical drinks like Coke that can dissolve metals...
Ex-Max Health Reports: According to a new study led by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), with collaborators from the University of Toronto and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. The researchers found that smoking is responsible for 467,000 premature deaths each year, high blood pressure for 395,000, and being overweight for 216,000. The effects of smoking work out to be about one in five deaths in American adults, while high blood pressure is responsible for one in six deaths.
People don't seem worry about these things that are known to cause all sorts of health problems like high-blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks, etc.... These things that they could handle if they showed some self restraint for a better, healthier life... They don't seem to worry about that...
No, they won't do anything, won't say anything, about that...
But, they will worry, and be very vocal, about the effects on their health from a minuscule amount of radiation from a nuclear power plant's accident hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away.
You really have to wonder how people create their priorities.
Is "what is important" only what the mass media tells people what is important at that time? It seems so. We have a society of people who are being led by the nose who have lost the ability to think for themselves.
Interesting, no? Just what is important to people? What is important to you?
I present for you now, a video showing a marker for every nuclear weapons test made from 1945 to 1998
A Time-Lapse Map of Every Nuclear Explosion Since 1945 to 1998