Clarity Blog

Clarity Blog

Perspective, Please!

The media’s breathless coverage of the Fukushima nuclear accident continues with a stream of reports about the radiation in the wind over New York, in the spinach in Japan, in your hair, on your car, over your head and under your feet. It’s all too much.  Literally.


A friend sent me this chart today.  Check out the expandable, more readable version here.  The block that’s smack dab in the middle of the box with blue blocks in it is the average daily dose of someone living by the Fukushima plant after the accident. The big blue block across the bottom is the radiation you’d get from one flight from New  York to LA.

The second tiny green box in the green blocks is the sum total of all the blue boxes – it’s three green squares.  The next largest green box is what you’d get in one year of living in a stone, brick or concrete house – four boxes.  The big green block is the maximum yearly dose allowed for U.S. radiation users.

Put all the green boxes into the top orange box. The big orange block is a fatal dose.  How’s that for perspective?

Most of the media is ignoring this kind of stuff since it doesn’t exactly make for bold headlines, but the  LA Times is to be commended for a piece by reporter Melissa Healy  it ran Sunday called, “From Japan’s damaged nuclear complex: radiation and fear.”  Here’s the lead:

In the wake of a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and the powerful tsunami that followed, the stricken nuclear reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant released not one but two powerful and invisible forces: radiation and fear of radiation.

Both can spread quickly, and with insidious stealth. They permeate walls, make no distinction between rich and poor, and are particularly hard on children.

And elevated levels of either can have long-term health consequences.

Read the whole piece. It’s short and well worth it.  Stress, like radiation, has distinct and proven detrimental effects on health.  Doesn’t the media  have a responsibility, therefore, to report much more accurately about the health risks – not just the radiation levels – associated with the disaster?

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