Not sure what to make of this Der Spiegel piece on how statistics of death and deformity are consistently overrated after nuclear accidents. Upshot: real rates of destruction are generally far lower than popularly reported.
To answer these questions, the Japanese and the Americans launched a giant epidemiological study after the war. The study included all residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki who had survived the atomic explosion within a 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) radius. Investigators questioned the residents to obtain their precise locations when the bomb exploded, and used this information to calculate a personal radiation dose for each resident. Data was collected for 86,572 people. Today, 60 years later, the study’s results are clear. More than 700 people eventually died as a result of radiation received from the atomic attack:
- 87 died of leukemia;
- 440 died of tumors;
- and 250 died of radiation-induced heart attacks.
- In addition, 30 fetuses developed mental disabilities after they were born.
Even sites like Nature News say Chernobyl’s ecosystems are “remarkably healthy” and that “biodiversity is actually higher than before the disaster.”
My initial reaction is that this is an incredibly skewed, twisted perspective – some flavor of (possibly unintentional) historical revisionism. Or that data simply conflict, and different reporters pick and choose their angles. Yet the piece is very even-handed, doesn’t seem to be written with any kind of pro-nuke agenda, more a commentary on how exaggeration commonly follows on the heels of tragedy. But I’d like to see a rebuttal or response to this article written by other science journalists.
And then… stop. Just. Stop. It’s madness to talk this way.
Watch Paul Fusco’s photo essay on victims of Chernobyl, and their children. And remember that everything beyond these messed up human lives is just statistics. And that death rates are very different from suffering rates. And that statistics are just damn lies anyway. And that people are real. Suffering is real, and cannot be reduced like this.
Thanks Jim Strickland