Are we all destined to become Ready Brek Kids?

Internationally recognized symbol.

For several weeks now the media machine has been jam-packed full of coverage about the Japanese earthquake and tsunami… When all said and done, journos do love a good disaster, don’t they?

The hacks must have been ecstatic, and thought all their news story birthdays had come at once, when the subsequent damage at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant joined the mix. Now I’m extremely grateful that I don’t live in Japan at the moment however, is the radiation risk as bad as the scaremongering media would have us believe?

Anti-nuclear activists from Greenpeace set up their own radiation monitoring equipment in Fukushima with the aim to discredit the facts being published by the media and the government in Japan. However so far, they have failed…

Greenpeace (26th March): As we found out today, the radiation levels are high in Fukushima city — our measurements confirmed levels that have been reported in newspapers and by the government — in some places so high that you would get your “maximum annual dose” (if you believe in such things) in about 8 days… (Read more)

It would appear that the media may well have been correct (for once) about the radiation levels but what about the actual dangers? Since the dawn of the nuclear age, the Manhattan Project at the end of WWII and indeed, any incident with a remotely nuclear connection ever since, the public have always had inherent fears about all things nuclear. But is that fear really justified?

In the Cold War era most people were led to believe that nuclear radiation presents a quite exceptional danger understood only by “eggheads” working in secret military establishments. (Prof Wade Allison)

In a recent BBC Viewpoint article, which aimed to get some realism back into the issue, Professor Wade Allison of Oxford

tsunami (100,000+ at last estimate), and the subsequent issues facing the survivors who are homeless, cold and hungry, the media have continued to concentrate their efforts on the nuclear radiation issues. A problem that no one has died from (as yet), and according to Prof. Allison, “is unlikely to.” He also said a “sea-change is needed in our attitude to radiation, starting with education and public information.” I would tend to agree.

At a time when our fossil fuel resources are in serious decline, power generation from sea and wind are still in their relative infancy, nuclear power whether your comfortable with it or not, is still a reality and major requirement to satisfy our power-hungry society.

I’ve always been of the opinion that; our media machine is responsible for the way in which our society has a propensity to over react to everything. Now I have no wish to detract from the enormity of the humanitarian issues facing Japan at present however; because of today’s media methodology, every problem no matter how small (or large), is escalated into a disaster of unprecedented proportions. One that can only be appreciated and dealt with by mass hysteria and inconsolable fear, either for yourself or others.

In many ways today’s media are simply the modern-day version of the man with the sandwich board pronouncing… “The End Of The World Is Nigh!”

I for one would much prefer to read news that confined itself to facts, as opposed to opinion, supposition and scaremongering, as is so often the case these days. After all, if I’m going to be glowing in the dark or, we are facing the Apocalypse and my world is really coming to an end, all I need is a couple of hours bloody notice… I certainly don’t want to be dwelling on the possibility for years on end… Why does every sodding journalist have to try to emulate Nostradamus?

Radiation and Reason: The Impact of Science on a Culture of Fear (Prof. W. Allison)

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