Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

“The real victims of Fukushima”

February 23rd, 2012 by Vader

Deaths by tsunami in Japan last year: 20,000+

Deaths by radiation exposure in Japan last year: 0.

But that’s not what you’d get out of the press coverage.

His Majesty and I were discussing this over his morning coffee today. He pointed out that there is a definite human preference for being scared of things that we think we can control. We can’t control earthquakes and there are still hard human limitations to what we can do to prepare against the biggest. On the other hand, it is entirely within our power to shut down nuclear plants, even if they aren’t actually what’s killing anyone.

I wondered out loud whether this explains the popularity of global warming apocalyptic scenarios. Climate has always fluctuated, but this time we have a theory that human behavior is causing it and that modifications of human behavior might prevent it. His Majesty started to sneer something, then paused and got thoughtful for a moment. (I think he was about to say that, while there are certainly many sincere proponents of the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis, a lot of the popularity lies in the potential for a power grab. But I can’t be sure; I know His Majesty fairly well, but he still sometimes surprises me.) His Majesty did the chin stroke thing, then offered a prediction: If global warming turns out to be a natural phenomenon, it will completely lose the public interest, even if the actual warming that takes place is as bad or worse than anything in the AGW scenarios. People will simply find ways to cope, as they have since the last Ice Age.


Comments (4)
Filed under: Martian Rose | Tags: , , ,
February 23rd, 2012 09:22:02

February 23, 2012

Granted. Loss of life, health or property due to a purely random accident (wherein no negligence was involved) or an “act of God” is easier to accept than in cases where negligence or human intent caused the death.

(Epictetus had a profound retort to those who allowed surrounding circumstances to dictate their grief, such as mourning the loss of life due to illness/accident, versus murder/negligence: “Why should you care by whom (or how) the Giver chose to take it back?”

Like the Chernobyl situation, the real number of deaths from the Fukushimi nuclear meltdowns won’t be tallied until 30 to 50 years out, when long-term statistics in cancer deaths are looked at.

And even then, when an “excess” number of cancer deaths are identified, unless there are types of cancers specific to radiation, it will be impossible to identify exactly who died of a “normally-caused” cancer, versus cases of the same type of cancer that were caused by radiation. (I don’t have the stats at hand, but I’ve read that the number of increased cancer deaths “statistically” attributed to Chernobyl was in the thousands or tens of thousands.)

From what I’ve read, journalists covering the Fukushimi nuclear disaster have failed to explain or report on the different kinds of radiation and contamination that were generated.

What made the Fukushima disaster really bad was not merely the release of radiation, the atomic particles and rays that set off Geiger counters.

Unshielded radioactive substances, from big chunks to microscopic bits, remaining on the nuclear plant property, gave off lots of radiation. However, once those substances are covered back up, shielded, the radiation stops.

The bad thing of Fukushima, the meltdowns, melt-throughs, containment breaches, etc., is that the radioactive substances, especially the nasty Cesium, themselves escaped through the air and through all that water that was pumped onto and through the reactors, much of which flowed back into the sea.

All three of the affected Fukushima nuclear reactor vessels were breached, and core material was exposed to, and partly transferred to, the outside environment.

Although the water which was applied was necessary to avert even worse scenarios, it served to distribute core material (in various stages of nuclear decomposition/decay) into the environment, both on land and into the ocean.

Each microscopic bit of Cesium thus distributed then becomes an additional source of radiation, another tiny “generator” if you will, as it goes through nuclear decay.

Add to that the fact that Cesium and some other of the byproducts of nuclear reactors are poisonous elements in an of themselves, and not just due to the radiation emitted.

Yes, there is a lot of dispersal that happens in the ocean, such that the effects are dissipated.

However, there is a reverse effect in the food chain. Whatever gets dispersed in the lower levels of the food chain works it’s way up the food chain and gets more concentrated in the higher levels.

February 23, 2012

Should have been: However, once those substances are [properly] covered back up, shielded, the radiation [is contained.]

February 23, 2012


There was a definite jump in thyroid cancer and leukemia after Chernobyl. There is almost no solid evidence of any jump in other cancer deaths attributable to Chernobyl. If you’re really interested, I’ll try to look up the relevant studies.

Adam G.
February 23, 2012

Agreed that people hae an irrational need to assign a human cause to disaster.

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