First off, Japan!
Land of the Rising Radiation Levels?
Now, I had a rather heated (if slightly drunken) debate with a friend of mine a few days ago upon this topic, specifically upon the safety of nuclear reactors considering what was happening in Japan. Unfortunately, I'd happen to pick a verbal fight with someone who knew significantly more about nuclear reactors than I ever will. Consequently, I and my arguments were pretty much torn asunder, ripped to shreds and strangled with my own intestines that had been savagely pulled out from my arse and offered to the Sun God on top of the great Aztec pyramids.
Figuratively speaking, of course.
Wait a minute, wasn't it the heart that was important to the Aztec Priests...?
Anyways, basically the argument that my friend gave in response to my ever-so-slightly feeble "but its not safe" point, was that the 40-year old nuclear power plant (and its probably-not-40-year-old engineers) is (are) actually doing exactly what it was meant to in the case of a crisis - I can't remember exactly what all his points were (despite, unlike him, being almost completely sober), but an example would be that the explosions at the plant that everyones been fretting about was actually one of the safety features of the plant (yes, an explosion for the sake of safety, it confused me too), one of the sides of the building being weaker than the rest so the blast would go in a safe(r) direction. Furthermore, the explosion didn't actually get to the reactor itself, meaning that there was no chance that the explosion would have caused any kind of meltdown (an occurrence which, fortunately, is looking less and less likely by the day. Hurray!).
So, contrary to news stories, the nuclear reactor is actually doing relatively well under the circumstances and all necessary precautions are being made. Yipee! Celebrate! Free cake for all!
Unfortunately, not so fast. Yes, the nuclear reactor itself may be mostly safe, but the media certainly isn't portraying it that way, which can certainly have more of an affect than some might imagine. Thing is, the social implications of all these stories is probably a lot more damaging than the health implications will ever be - just as the stock value of a company can rise and fall by mere rumours, the social health of a society can be deeply affected by the news (Yeah thats right, fuck you "words will never hurt me" phrase), even if all they say isn't true. As this article puts it, "t