How I learned to stop worrying and embrace the atom

An astounding example of the skewed coverage of Fukushima could be observed last year during the “contaminated beef” scare. An NHK special broadcast featured a lengthy and worrisome introduction, footage from cattle farms in Fukushima, an examination of flaws in the inspection system, shrill announcements of becquerels in the hundreds and thousands, interviews with crying supermarket managers who had inadvertently sold the meat, and clips of young mothers fearfully clutching their babies and wondering about the safety of their families. Finally there was a 15-second clip of a university professor calmly stating that you would have to eat a kilo of that beef a day in order for the radiation to have any measurable effect upon your health.

It is that contrast — between 45 minutes of fear-mongering and 15 seconds of calm science — that tells you all you need to know about the nuclear “crisis” in Japan. 

Writing for Japan Times Michael Radcliffe shows how an inquiring mind can convert from anti-nuclear to pronuclear with a bit of reading and study. 

Like millions of other people in Japan, I watched the events of March 2011 unfurl with shock and trepidation. The massive earthquake, the terrible tsunami and then what seemed to be a dreadful nuclear disaster.

Yet now I wonder at my naivety, because the nuclear accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant triggered in me a critical review of everything I thought I knew about radiation and nuclear power. I am now firmly pronuclear, and not despite the Fukushima accident, but because of it.

UK environmentalist George Monbiot did his homework after Fukushima. His conclusions are here “Why Fukushima made me stop worrying and love nuclear power” from 21 March 2011.

You will not be surprised to hear that the events in Japan have changed my view of nuclear power. You will be surprised to hear how they have changed it. As a result of the disaster at Fukushima, I am no longer nuclear-neutral. I now support the technology.

Since then Monbiot has been a highly effective explainer and proponent of the essential role of nuclear power in a carbon free future.

One thought on “How I learned to stop worrying and embrace the atom

  1. Richardw

    ROFL

    This is nto the result of careful study.

    This is the result of selctive use of facts to skew the debate.

    The straw man arguments are staggering.

    As someone who has closely followed the Fukushima incident and has tried to keep the debate rational by knoking down the excesses of both sides with facts sourced from Tepco, the NRC and similar sources I can say that this opinion piece is complete rubbish.

    Fukushima was a near miss. The result of what happens when a nuclear disaster is narrowly avoided.

    How was disaster avoided? Well it seems a maintenance mistake left water in Reactor 4 when it should have been drained. It also seems that a gate seal problem caused the water from the reactor to leak into the spent fuel pool.

    The result of the combination of a maintenance error and a gate seal leak was that spent fuel pool 4 did not dry out when Tepco and the NRC both assumed it would have.

    The potential effects of a single Spent Fuel Pool drying out are catastrophic if you look at the NRC’s analysis, and the analysis of various other expert studies.

    The effects if you bellieve the various bloggers are bad but ‘not as bad as some make out’ whatever that means in technical terms!

    The NRC had attempted to calculate the likely effects of Fukushima based on the Tepco supplied information. Their code could not calculate anything as large as what was quite likely to happen. The result of the calculation with smaller source terms was that a 50 mile radius of evacuation was needed.

    So the NRC called for a 50 mile radius for US citizens because it just couldn’t calculate the real scale of potential disaster.

    Opinion pieces like this keep saying ‘if this is the worst disaster’ – well it isn’t it is a lucky escape.

    These opinion pieces if you match them up all use the same misleading phrases such as this to manipulate opinion by subtly lying to you.

    Believing opinions such as those here from one of the many ‘how I learned to stop worrying’ pieces the nuclear apologists have sent out you are just not aware of the real expert analysis and the actual data from the sources.

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