To the Editor,
Most of us realize that the situation surrounding those damaged nuclear reactors in Japan is extremely serious.
A solid news report on what has happened and what is currently being attempted is a worthy effort and does keep the public tuned in on the progress of the multiple tragedies, which have befallen that island nation. At the same time most of us realize that in an attempt to keep television, radio and print an ever-flowing resource in our modern 24-hour-a-day news cycle, we are overly saturated with verbal redundancy and unsubstantiated babble. In fact, if the words “Give us a worst case scenario” are never again repeated, it will be treated by most of the population as a blessing.
It is difficult to escape some talking head looking with serious concern at some individual located at a far-off university campus, or in some government think tank building. He bows his head and says something like, “There has now been radiation traced to the shores of California. Dr. Jones…Give us a worst case scenario of what we can expect.” The guest then goes into some lengthy dialog about the horrible dangers of radiation. This has happened so many times in recent days that existing stock of iodine pills has been depleted and half of the country is talking about doing away with all forms of nuclear energy.
The thing I cannot understand is other than just filling airtime and pretending to have an important safety issue to report, why now? We have had nuclear radiation all around us…. forever. Since the first atomic bomb was exploded at the Trinity site on July 16, 1945. This has been an atomic or nuclear nation.
Two bombs were exploded in Japan to bring the war to a conclusion. And thousands of people died, but today those bombed locales are modern, thriving cities. Worldwide, natural disasters have caused more death and destruction than any atomic related incident.
Since 1945 the United States has had 1,054 nuclear tests involving more than 1,150 devices and including 331 atmospheric tests. The Russians have had 715 tests. France tallied up 210 tests and the United Kingdom held 45 tests. China set off 45 nuclear explosions; there were 6 in India, 6 in Pakistan and 2 in North Korea. That is a huge amount of radiation tossed around Planet Earth…. and guess what!!!! Nobody has grown a third eyeball or a couple of extra limbs.
Regardless of what the media is squawking or the politicians are lamenting, most scientists believe the Japanese have behaved responsibly throughout this entire nuclear incident. Personal contacts and friends residing in Japan have informed me as late as this morning that radiation levels are actually declining near the disaster center and in locales where they live.
People who are developing major concern about nuclear contamination should pause and remember they receive 25 mrem a year of radiation if they live at sea level and 50 mrem a year if they live in high places such as Denver Colorado. They receive .5 mrem an hour during any flight. Foods give people about 20 mrem a year of radiation and you pick up radiation from watching television, having a dental crown or wearing false teeth. There is fallout radiation every time you have an x-ray, MRI, CAT Scan or an Upper GI Series. Just having a single Barium Enema will give you 405 mrem of radiation.
One final note. The average person receives a total dose of 360 mrem a year. Scientists estimate that your chances of dying from cancer increase by ten percent if in a single year you happen to accumulate 250,000 mrem of radiation. So, Please Media!!!! No More Worst Case Scenarios!!!!
Semper Fidelis Thomas D. Segel firstname.lastname@example.org