The Original “OMG!!! Radiation!!!” Moment

Three Mile Island is closing, and so people are remembering what happened. Remembering a nuclear moment of presidential leadership. Too bad that they don’t remember what actually happened.

Jimmy Carter presented an image of an “Aw-shucks” peanut farmer from Georgia. In reality he was a nuclear engineer, but Americans don’t elect “eggheads.” When the incident at Three Mile Island occurred, he managed to pull off what is probably the best thing he did in those 4 years. He stopped the panic.

“I felt perfectly safe last Sunday when I was in the control room just a hundred feet away from the reactor core itself,” he told journalists later. “The level of radiation was carefully monitored even before they found out the president was coming.”

What do you really know about radiation? What did you know in 1979? How much panic was the media spreading?

After the Great East Japan Tsunami and the resultant emergency at Fukushima Daiichi, NPR – during a news segment on the tragedy – was actually talking about Godzilla movies, because they had nothing intelligent to say. With my last post on radiation pointing out how the linear, no-threshold-dose theory of radiation exposure is insane, someone left a comment saying (basically) that LNT was CORRECT! Of course if you believe that, you will never fly in an airplane, get a dental X-ray, eat a banana, sleep next to someone, have granite in your kitchen, live in a brick house, live in Denver, etc. ALL of those things expose you to measurable, but not hazardous, amounts of radiation.

The linked article says that Three Mile Island killed nuclear power, but it was always too expensive. Still people who want to fight against global warming should be all over nuclear, and thorium reactors in particular, but they aren’t because OMG!!! RADIATION!!!

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3 thoughts on “The Original “OMG!!! Radiation!!!” Moment

  1. Few things bring out the blatant ignorance of the average person like the subject of radiation. The same people who are TERRIFIED of receiving a one time dose increase equal to 10% of their annual average background dose have NO problem climbing in a CAT scan machine for the third time in six months for that migraine headache and getting a HUNDRED times their annual background dose…..and paying $2K for that dose.

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  2. Pingback: In The Mailbox: 05.10.19 : The Other McCain

  3. There’s a passage in the book “The Health Hazards of Not Going Nuclear”, I believe, which essentially says that the aversion to nuclear power is based on the public’s aversion to anything that can have large scale dangerous effects even with a vanishingly small likelihood of happening. Of course, if AGW is as dangerous and eminent as frequency publicized then it’s advocates should be pushing far harder and accepting the political fall out from same.

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