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!!!