Nuclear Reactor Boy’s Tummy Ache

It is all explained here “in a calm rational scientific manner”.

Refs

* Japan nuclear threat: The tsunami is the bigger tragedy By David Spiegelhalter, Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk, Cambridge University
* Pakistan miners feared dead – for anyone who thought that coal was safe.
* Why Fukushima made me stop worrying and love nuclear power – George Monbiot
* Jurrassic Park is a triumph for dino theme parks: Build more dinosaur theme parks now!
* JEB on some back-of-the-envelope calculations of radiation risk

Misleading tripe from the Grauniad

How about this for misleading tripe from the Grauniad:

grauniad-news-blog-reactor-misleading

Yup, according to them the reactor has killed 4277 people. Or at least, that is what it looks like. Of course, you could also argue that they are trying to claim that the reactors have made the Nikkei go up 5.68%, but no-one would believe that.

Incidentally, the NYT has some good disaster porn.

[Updates: for a non-panic-stricken view of Tokyo, JEB is worth reading. For some quiet discussion of nuclear power, Brian has the good taste to ref me, and to remind us of some discussions from 2005. Meanwhile, the Japanese appear to be reduced to doing apparently random things and the Germans are busy proving that they can be prone to panic too (though now I look closer at that story I see it suffers from the usual problem of lying-by-tense in the headline: the headline says “has” shut down, the text says “will be” -W]

A novel solution to the problem of evil

If you believe in a good, kind, etc God then [[problem of evil]] is to explain away the various obvious features of the world at variance with this belief. People always succeed in doing so, because they want to. A good trick with any form of human badness is to invoke Free Will: obviously God doesn’t want you to be naughty, but he couldn’t very well stop you, could he? But things like death-dealing earthquakes and the accompanying tsunamis are a bit more of a puzzler. However, in a rather daring and novel piece of theology I heard at Thought for the Day, 15 March 2011 the Revd Dr David Wilkinson says

As a Christian I find such a narrative in the conviction that this world is the creation of a good God, who risks giving freedom to human beings and the natural world. Today the people of Japan will take inspiration from picking up corpses from the beach…

(my bold, and of course I made up the ending to that last sentence). Neatso, eh? God of course didn’t want the tsunami to smite the Japanese (even though they are heathens, which in the good old days would have been excellent grounds for a bit of smiting), but it has to be given free will to decide what to do for itself. Errr.

Refs

* Platitude of the day

Pop, pop, pop

nuke Nukes in Japan are going off like badly-racked champagne bottles, and the only thing fiercer than the radiation levels is the press circus (I liked that as a sort of simile-thingy, but actually at the moment the radiation levels aren’t desperately fierce). How do you folks without blogs manage to bottle up your excitement without writing stuff? Perhaps you actually talk to people, how last-century. Anyway, taking advantage of a brief surge of SB uptime (still dunno what is going on, some people don’t see any problem, but it was down for me all last night):

Some people are using the disaster to stick the knife into nukes. Like Roland Nelles in Der Spiegel. These people are clearly just using the disaster to push their own agenda, which is reprehensible but unsurprising.

But even those pro-nuke are saying that the situation has changed now: what was formerly trivial (in terms of radiation release) is now unclear (Timmy makes some good points about the radiation just outside the plant (what from, exactly) and the possibility of garbling). But, depending on how this pans out, Timmy may have been talking bollocks about the Grauniad talking bollocks. Or maybe he was right. It is too early to tell.

But… suppose what we actually cared about in all of this, was saving people’s lives, in the future (obviously that *isn’t* what people care about: there is a frenzy of axe-grinding and entertainment-disguised-as-news going on, mostly). Then, we’d look at where all the dead people are, now: washed up on various beaches it seems (in Japan, of course; and this may even be one of those very rare disasters that kills more people than car accidents do. If we were actually looking at saving people globally, we’d feed-the-poor, or educate them, or stop their own governments killing them. But that makes the problem too complex, so lets restrict ourselves to Japan). In which case, the clear answer is: people should live in high-rise concrete blocks, not in cute traditional wooden houses.

As to “The earthquake in Japan is emerging as a decisive turning point in the history of nuclear technology” I am beginning to hope that may well be true: that people will see that the plant survived rather well against a quake 7 times bigger than it was built to handle [note: see comment: this has been challenged], and after the hysterical over-reaction (in which wazzocks like Roland Nelles completely blow their credibility) maybe a counter-reaction will set in.

[Update: the SB downtime looks to be some kind of incompetent medical-spam attack from Turkey and Qatar, according to internal feedback. There are rangeblocks put in place to prevent this, that may have unintended targets -W]

Refs

* Radiation falls at Japanese plant – the story at 5 pm.
* Transcript of what John Beddington said (via PW)
* Coal Ash Is More Radioactive than Nuclear Waste (SciAm) ”By burning away all the pesky carbon and other impurities, coal power plants produce heaps of radiation”