Radiophobia on the Rocks?

Over at Instapundit Ed Driscoll reminds us of the person checking out at a Whole Foods somewhere who was overheard demanding that “I need to read the numbers on the barcode aloud to you. I don’t want any lasers touching my food.”

This is your brain on liberalism. Any questions? Just wait till this person finds out that “Instant Noodles Can Make Babies Gay.” Of course, for a politically-correct liberal, is that a bug or a feature? Probably a bug only if the noodles aren’t GMO free and laser resistant. Incidentally, our coveted Green Weenie Awards come without bar codes, so this person will be happy to receive it.

This episode came back to me in seeing the stories out today about the fifth anniversary of Japan’s tsunami that took out the nuclear power plant at Fukushima. The New York Times has the obligatory hand-wringing story on the front page today that actually doesn’t say very much about what the radiation risks are.

On the other hand, the BBC, of all places, published a good package yesterday under the general heading, “Has Fukushima’s Radiation Threat Been Exaggerated?” You need to follow several sublinks to get into the story, but the third link (“Is Fear of Radiation the Real Killer”) is of special note:

At Fukushima University Medical School Professor Shinichi Suzuki leads the team studying the children of Fukushima. A cheerful round-faced man with a grey moustache, Prof Suzuki is frustrated by the constant likening of Fukushima to Chernobyl.

“The first thing to understand is that the amount of radiation released from Fukushima was much lower than at Chernobyl,” he said. “Second, the number of children in Fukushima who got a radiation dose above 50 millisieverts is very few, maybe as low as zero.”

It turns out that the suicide rate around Fukushima has spiked, suggesting the risk of depression is much greater than the risk of radiation on a risk-risk basis.

This is all very relevant to California at the moment, where the environutcases are demanding that California shut down its last remaining nuclear power plant, Diablo Canyon. This one plant produces more than twice as much electricity as all of California’s solar installations. (See the graphic below.) Since Diablo Canyon’s output would be replaced mostly by gas-fired electricity, from a greenhouse gas emissions standpoint it would be the equivalent of putting over a million cars on the road.

Tradeoffs anyone? Or, maybe if California has any sense left and keeps the plant open, some of the environutcases will succumb to the same malady as people in Japan, with the same self-administered remedy.

Diablo

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