funranium: (Duck 'n' Cover)
[personal profile] funranium
Instead of several reactors venting steam/smoke, I would instead like you to imagine this area in Sendai covered with a grove of trees in area comparable to the nuclear power plants.

I would now like you to light it up, all the trees on fire. Look at the smoke. Now, go to your mapping software of choice and look at your position on Planet Earth relative to Sendai.

If you don't think you would see the smoke from a fire of this size (rather small) at your current location, then you no have reason to be concerned about the fallout because the atmospheric transport mechanisms are exactly the same. In fact, fallout of the radioactive materials of concern are a bit less of a worry because the elements and isotopes of highest concern tend to be rather dense and not travel well. To move it around the world by getting material to the high winds of the stratosphere, you have to have a very large and/or very energetic fire.

Of course, moving material to that height in the air column also means global dilution as you spread it everywhere. Other than the immediate reactor vicinity, no one place gets particularly crapped up.
So, think of your last wildfire, think how large it was and how far away, think how the winds blew and what you saw. Now, compare that with the size of the reactor complex.
With that, please go back to contemplating the horror of the two disasters that actually happened to Japan rather than the one people are working hard to prevent. The reason the reactors are such a pain in the butt to get under control right now is because it is taking Japan...JAPAN, people!!!...nearly a week to get emergency power supplied to the pumps for these reactors. That is how badly the earthquake and tsunami have fucked up the basic infrastructure of the area.

I'm pretty tired of explaining things to people that seem to want this to be catastrophic nuclear doom for the world. I do not understand why this narrative is appealing and makes intuitive sense to people. Wait, yes I do; Doom By Man's Hubris is a classical theme. Damn my GM storytelling experience.

Date: 2011-03-17 06:48 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-03-17 10:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I admit, my expertise is not strong here. But I still spent an hour and a quarter or so this evening at the bar explaining to the early-evening regulars that they did not need to run out and buy iodine tablets...


I hate the world sometimes. Actually, most of the time.

Date: 2011-03-17 01:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Maybe the extreme Fallout fandom's just starting to get vocal or something? Not to mention not properly educated.

Date: 2011-03-17 03:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's because radiation is totally incomprehensible to people, and therefore scarier than "Oh, just another earthquake. We have those. No big deal." There's no sense of scale...the media coverage doesn't help that--it skews people's sense of scale even further, by focusing on the nuclear stuff and not bothering to mention how many buildings are being sifted for survivors.

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