Over the past several weeks I've been tackling a vexing topic: How to find a way to communicate effectively with the public about radiation and our environment. It was radiation pioneer Marie Curie who said, "Nothing in life is to be feared, it is to be understood."
Unfortunately, most of the anti-nukes don't do much more than obscure honest public debate with bad science and outlandish claims (many of which are easily debunked).
To get a better understanding of the sort of challenge we're taking on, read the following passage from Back of the Envelope -- a blog written by an ex-pat New Zealander now living in Scotland. New Zealand has been a "nuclear free zone," since late Prime Minister David Lange banned nuclear arms and nuclear powered ships from the country in 1985.
Though the author of the blog isn't a supporter of using nuclear energy for power production in New Zealand, he thinks it's far passed time for the country to shake off its anti-nuclear phobia:
I do find it strange however that 'nuclear' always means bombs. NZ has become irrational over the peaceful use of nuclear for medicine, research and power generation. . .Some other pertinent facts from NEI:
The NZ public has been conditioned to think nuclear-free is an absence of all 'nuclear' applications. This is stupid, radioactives are used every day in every hospital to cure people of cancer, you don't see many Greenpeace demonstrations outside cancer wards do you?
The nuclear-free stance is deep in the pysche's of NZers and i wonder if even we know what it means, its wrapped up in so much of how we see the world and ourselves, so i dispair of ever trying to explain to someone else...
Measuring radiation dosage. Radiation dose is measured in rem, which is based on the effect of radiation on the human body. It takes into account both the amount of radiation deposited in body tissues and the type of radiation. A millirem is a thousandth of a rem.
Your average radiation dose. In all, the average person in the United States receives about 360 millirem of radiation per year. About 300 millirem comes from natural sources and 60 millirem from manmade sources...
Because of their advanced design and sophisticated containment structures, U.S. nuclear plants emit a negligible amount of radiation. In fact, even if you lived right next door to a nuclear power plant, you would still receive less radiation each year than you would receive in just one round-trip flight from New York to Los Angeles. A 1990 National Cancer Institute study, the broadest ever conducted, found no evidence of any increase in cancer mortality including childhood leukemia among people living in 107 counties that host, or are adjacent to, 62 major nuclear facilities in the United States.
Technorati tags: Nuclear Energy, Energy, Electricity, Environment, Nuclear Medicine, New Zealand