In the aftermath of the terrible events in Japan of the past 2 weeks, there has been a rush to ‘trash’ the idea of nuclear power as a ‘safe’, carbon-free technology for electricity generation. Germany led the way by closing its power stations for safety checks, the EU then followed up by issuing an unintelligible order about something else, and ‘public opinion’ seemed to be assuming that ‘nuclear’ equalled mass-poisoning madness.
Now before we get into the debate ourselves, test yourself. Answer the following questions before you look at the letter to ‘The Daily Telegraph’ in the UK, I link to below. The questions are-
- How many people have died as a direct result of the nuclear contamination at Chernobyl in 1986?
- How many people have died as a result of leaks from nuclear power stations since 1955?
- How many people die on the roads in the UK every year?
- How many people are killed (accidentally) by medical professionals in the UK every year.
Now see the facts contained in the aforementioned letter, by a Mr Malcolm Bell of Leeds. In the letter he asked a simple question- ‘Have we not overreacted to the events in Fukushima..?’ and offered us a few facts from credible sources that put the ‘meltdown disaster’ into some kind of perspective.
- Far fewer people died at Chernobyl than we commonly ‘know’
- More people die on the roads in the UK every month than have died as a result of nuclear accidents in the last 30 years.
- 18 times as many people die, every year, in the UK as a direct result of medical error every year, than lost their lives in Chernobyl.
Now I know that it’s not as simple as counting bodies,. I also know that the Fukushima incident is nowhere near finished, but it made me think. Facts are a good starting point to frame any discussion of options, and should be used by presenters to show how emotion and argumentation are useful to a certain degree, but sometimes defenceless to the truth.
And the new euphemism? ‘He’s gone all Fukushima on me’- meaning he’s lost all reason.
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