Not to derail this heartwarming thread on global warming but a greater and more immediate threat to mankind is the spent fuel pool #4 at Fukushima.
If that baby gets out of control it could be the end of the world as we know it and I won't feel fine.
Before the Committee, Ambassador Murata strongly stated that if the crippled building of reactor unit 4—with 1,535 fuel rods in the spent fuel pool 100 feet (30 meters) above the ground—collapses, not only will it cause a shutdown of all six reactors but will also affect the common spent fuel pool containing 6,375 fuel rods, located some 50 meters from reactor 4. In both cases the radioactive rods are not protected by a containment vessel; dangerously, they are open to the air. This would certainly cause a global catastrophe like we have never before experienced.
I'm not to worried for myself, I'm 56 this year and have had a good life, Hell I've even been dead once 4 yrs ago, but I feel for all the young people that will have to deal with the horrific afereffects if this shit came down.
More hysteria. Certainly not the end of the world, but perhaps the end of people living in a huge chunk of Japan.
If you read it more carefully they compare it to 85xChernobyl, or half of the total radiation released by all atmospheric nuclear testing. I have a hard time knowing what to do of 85xChernobyl, but let's look at half the total radiation released by all atmospheric nuclear testing. There's been a study published in American Scientist that tries to estimate the health effects atmospheric nuclear testing has had on the American population. Their conclusion is that it has caused an estimated total of 54,000 additional cases of thyroid cancer, some 1,800 deaths in leukemia and some 22,000 cases of other cancers, half of them fatal. You may compare this to the roughly 60,000,000 incidents of cancer expected in the same population by other causes, ie the increase in cancer caused by the fallout was just over 0.1%. That being said, some 40,000 people had their life cut short by these tests, and the increase in thyroid cancer, the one most clearly linked to radioactive fallout, is as high as 10% above the "normal" expected rate.
http://www.americanscientist.org/issues ... er-risks/7
So, what can we conclude from this? If the fallout from all atmospheric testing caused an additional 40,000 cancer deaths in the USA, and an overall increase in cancer rates of roughly 0.1%, isn't this roughly the magnitude we should expect from the Japanese situation, if they compare it to half the radiation released by all nuclear testing? Granted, this is a bit more concentrated, so maybe we should compare it to the effects on the 14,000 people on the Marshall Islands, where cancer rates have jumped a whooping 3% due to nuclear testing.
Let's try some middle ground. Let's assume that cancer rates in Japan increase by 1%. Incidently, Japan today has roughly the same population size the USA had in the 1950's. Assuming that cancer rates are roughly the same (probably not, the Japanese have a healthier life style), we should have the same estimated 60,000,000 life time cancers. The expected effect should then be an additional 600,000 cancer cases, half of which are fatal. Let's say that the global effects, where of course the concentration has been diluted, adds the same number of cancers in the outside world. We then look at a total of some 600,000 people dying as a result of this incident over the next 50-70 years. We're talking about perhaps 10,000 people per year. Then compare this to the current global death rate, with more than 150,000 people dying every day, or 56,000,000 per year.
As catastrophic as this scenario is, and especially locally in Japan... Seriously, I think we've seen worse.
Yes, a lot of people may die. Yes, a large chunk of Japan may be unfit for human habitation for decades, but no, it's not the end of the world, or even of civilisation as we know it.
As a comparisson, a survey published in the Lancet suggested that the American war on Iraq had caused 654,965 excess deaths in the Iraqi population between March 2003 and June 2006. This figure is much higher than the official body counts, but that is because they compare the total number of deaths in this time to the total number of deaths in a similar time frame before the invasion. Thus they do not just include people who die from fighting, but also people who die due to deteriorating infrastructures leading to lack of healthcare, safe drinking water, etc and an increase in lawlessness.