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Friday, March 25, 2011

Compassion, America?

The death toll from Japan's 11 March earthquake and tsunami officially surpassed 10,000 lives yesterday. More than 17,440 people are listed as missing, and 2,775 as injured. Hundreds of thousands remain homeless. And the Fukushima reactor situation continues to degrade toward an accident on par with Chernobyl.

The US media (and apparently a substantial number of US citizens), meanwhile, is fixated on the possible threat of radiation from Fukushima somehow impacting the US west coast. Really.

The highest radiation levels seen in the US since the earthquake have been recorded in San Francisco. As of Wednesday the radiation levels above baseline there were as follows. In picocuries per meter cubed.

Cesium-137: 0.0013
Tellurium-132: 0.0075
Iodine-132: 0.0066
Iodine-131: 0.068

Here in Seattle we're seeing:

Cesium-137: 0.00045
Tellurium-132: 0.0034
Iodine-132: 0.0029
Iodine-131: 0.013

Picocuries. That's right, the west coast of the United States is freaking out over about the same level of radiation they might receive if their house or apartment had a single brick sitting across the street from it. For one day.

Get a grip, America. People in Japan, tens of thousands of them, are dead or dying. By the end of this the death toll will likely be about that of the first day of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. Which, incidentally, deposited rather more radioactive fallout on the US than the worst-case scenario at Fukushima possibly could. Let's focus on the real problems in Japan instead of this media-created and selfish fear-mongering. A little human decency goes a long way.

Here's the gross-count gamma rate for San Francisco as of today, as monitored by the EPA:


  1. Well said indeed and thank you for the explanation. The behaviour of the Media is as usual on all events in today's world. Get it first even if its wrong (which it usually is!), then milk it for all its worth to keep passions high and develop panic so the public will not bother with the facts. Is it any wonder more and more the Media is being ignored, even the Left Wingers!!
    Good Watch.

  2. Besides the fact that this makes America and Americans look horrible to the rest of the world, there is also a very real concern that very significant numbers of Americans MAY in fact die as a result of overdosing on potassium iodide. Pesky, pesky thyroids...