Saturday, July 9, 2011

Is Fukushima the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind? A Comparison

Many pundits and supposed experts have claimed that Fukushima "is the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind."

Sorry to inform you, but I think that is completely false. To even entertain that notion for a second is incredibly arrogant and ethno-centric thinking. It is ignorant and shows a complete lack of knowledge on human history. Be very suspicious of those who make these kinds of idiotic claims as they certainly are not steeped in factual information. But hey, don't believe me, in this article, I will let you be the judge.


Here is a list from Wikipedia on industrial disasters. This is a heavily edited list. There are many more at the Wikipedia site. I edited out many disasters as I figured that if there weren't at least a few hundred casualties, then it can't be much of a disaster (no disrespect to those who lost loved ones). Especially when you consider that, according to the International Labor Organization, at least 12,250 Chinese workers die in industrial accidents a month, every month, and an estimated 1.2 million people are killed in road crashes each year, and as many as 50 million are injured, a few dozen killed in an industrial accident seems like small potatoes. 

So far the death total from the Fukushima nuclear accident is zero. How many can you count from the list below that are much worse than that?

Chemical industry
Construction industry
  • January 20, 1909: Chicago Crib Disaster. 100 men died. 
Defense industry
Energy industry
  • August, 1975: The Banqiao Dam flood in China. 100,000 immediately killed, plus over 150,000 died of subsequent epidemic diseases and famine. Total dead toll around 250,000, making it the worst technical disaster ever happened in history.
  • March 16, 1978: The Amoco Cadiz spill. An oil tanker sank spilling of 68,684,000 US Gallons of crude oil (nearly ten times that of Exxon Valdez). This is the largest oil spill of its kind (from an oil tanker) in history.
  • April 26, 1986: Chernobyl disaster. At the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Prypiat, Ukraine a test on reactor number four goes out of control, resulting in a nuclear meltdown. The ensuing steam explosion and fire killed up to 50 people with estimates that there may be between 4,000 additional cancer deaths over time. 
Food industry
    Manufacturing industry
    Mining industry
    There are many more disasters and accident listed at the Wikipedia site. There's thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, more that are not listed on Wikipedia. Lots of accidents and disasters. Lots of deaths. Fukushima nuclear reactor accident deaths as of today, four months after the disaster began? 0. Zero. None. Nada. Zip. 全然. 無し. ありません。

    Oh, and if you want a disaster that displaced more than 1,000 people and is still going on decades later, here's an interesting one:

    • May 1962: The Centralia, Pennsylvania coal mine fire began, forcing the gradual evacuation of the Centralia borough. The fire continues to burn in the abandoned borough in 2011, 49 years later (emphasis mine).

    These are facts. They are etched into history.

    People who make claims like, "Fukushima is the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind" are stating opinions involved with speculation and conjecture. Anyone care to debate the facts


    Brian G. Heyer said...

    Thank you for the perspective, Mike.

    Anonymous said...

    Your comparison is like getting a million people to smoke a ciggarette and then saying no one got sick.
    get them smoking 10 years and things will be a lot different when teh effects have had time to take hold.

    Same with this.
    Lets see if you stand by this ridicilous comment in 10-15 years time.

    mike in tokyo rogers said...

    Anonymous, try to read and comprehend.
    Long term incidents are well documented in this article. Chernobyl is specifically written about in the article and there and other links to much more. Your analogy is completely false. 

    So, then, let's a make a logical and consistent analogy, shall we? How about Chernobyl? 

This came out on the 25th anniversary of that event: "Chernobyl was by far the world’s worst nuclear accident. However, official studies suggest that the accident was not as apocalyptic as we have often been led to believe over the past 24 years. According to a report in 2005, produced by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), "4,000 people could eventually die of radiation exposure from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant…" 

    As of mid-2005, however, fewer than 50 deaths had been directly attributed to radiation from the disaster, almost all being highly exposed rescue workers, many who died within months of the accident but others who died as late as 2004.’"

    Here's the link:

    Also, coal and oil industry kill 5,000 times more people than radiation has (and that includes Hiroshima and nagasaki) these are processes and industries that have been going on for over a cntury but we don't hear a peep out of people like you about those.

    Your analogy is completely and totally wrong. It's good that you will comment and post an argument but at least try to have a functioning, logical one.

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