Wandering in Fields of Idiots

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Poor Journalism on Nuclear Issues

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Yesterday I was directed to an article about nuclear energy which was effectively dominated by one side of the argument. As far as I am concerned this is the worst kind of journalism because it is the journalists duty to challenge contributions. Feel free to take a look:

http://www.bloomingtonalternative.com/articles/2011/11/05/10834

I decided to write to the editor, to challenge them on this article and here is my letter:

Dear Editor,

I was recently directed to read an article published in your on-line
publication titled "'Nuclear power is a hell of a way to boil water'". I
was curious as to the mission of your publication and I note the
description says "It is a mission-driven publication whose goal is to
promote and celebrate progressive social change and independent media in
Bloomington."  This confuses me because in this article I mention you
seem to have chosen to allow it to become a mouthpiece for Dr Caldicott
rather than being a piece of genuine journalism. My experience of good
journalism is that it requires one to be balanced and critical of the
inclusion of information. There seems to have been no attempt at
balanced journalism here. For example the statements implying Fukushima
is worse than Chernobyl are not challenged, only re-enforced without facts.

The statement that "No dose of radiation is safe" is blatantly
incorrect, otherwise it would not be possible to live in places like
Colorado where there is significant background radiation from the
granite rocks. If you doubt perhaps you might read this article from the
Colorado Department of Public Health:
http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/rf/riskperspect.htm or if you don't have
the time to read perhaps an infographic: http://xkcd.com/radiation/ We
are all exposed to radiation throughout our lives, as for myself I fly
20,000 miles a year, some people regularly have X-rays or Chemotherapy
which is substantially more effective. We survive, our bodies repair
damage from radiation and as far as I have read the isotopes that left
the site were relatively short lived.

No one has died as a result of Fukushima, the Fukushima plant was
designed in the 1970s and had not been upgraded to meet current
standards. How about the radiation from burning coal? This is often
overlooked but the radioactive emissions from a coal fired plant are
actually more substantial than those of an operating nuclear power
plant. In addition to this many people are killed in coal mining each
year, in 2004 over 6000 people died mining coal worldwide and 28 in the
US alone. Our world is full of natural radiation perhaps you might
review the following video which makes things very much clearer about
how much radioactivity there is in our atmosphere:
http://www.ctbto.org/specials/1945-1998-by-isao-hashimoto/

Respected journalist George Monbiot has challenged Dr Caldicott before
for example:
http://www.monbiot.com/2011/04/04/interrogation-of-helen-caldicotts-responses/
and http://www.monbiot.com/category/nuclear/ and also
http://www.monbiot.com/2011/04/04/evidence-meltdown/

I am not actively involved on any side of the energy industry, I am just
a supporter of science and balanced reason. The information I have seen
leads me to support nuclear because it is relatively clean and
relatively safe. I agree there is a concern over nuclear waste storage,
which is why I am a casual supporter of Thorium energy which was much
overlooked because it has no relationship to nuclear weapons, which was
important in the early development of nuclear energy in the US, Russia
and France. I challenge your publication to make a further article which
takes the other side of the story, one which challenges these assertions
and which contains verified facts.

Yours Sincerely,

Bob Hannent