Why I listen to NPR, part 7.
Even though NPR has partly succumbed to the nuke panic, they also manage to pick up some actual FACTS. This morning they ran a long interview,
with no interruptions or sighing or chortling or mocking, with Robert Baker, a Texas Tech prof who has been doing detailed studies of life around Chernobyl for 20 years.
Full transcription isn't online, so here's my partial crude transcription:
Q: What led you to study Chernobyl?
A: I'd seen the cover of Time magazine calling it a Nuclear Desert. When I went over there the first time it was shocking, because it didn't look like a nuclear desert in my mind...
Q: As I understand it, you have not found any long-term genetic problems.
A: In wolves and mice and birds and other animals, we have not been able to document a genetic modification. It may be there, but it's too small to detect. ... We don't know that the radiation has produced inferior bank voles.
Q: Bank voles are teensy-weensy little rodents...
A: ... In fact those voles are radioactive. You can catch one and use the Geiger counter and I mean it screams. But they seem to do their life cycle without great consequences. If you didn't have a Geiger counter you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.
Q: What about large mammals?
Wolves are doing well, moose, red deer. We wrote a paper in which we said the world's largest nuclear disaster has created a wildlife preserve.
Q: What about Japan? Reactors sitting near the ocean in farmland...
A: I'm sure it will recover in time. In ten years time there will be mice and other animals living normally there. But for growing food, it will probably be unusable for centuries.
Q: Should we rethink our relationship to radiation? Should we be as afraid of it as we clearly are? [Special bravo for asking this question!]
A: World Health Organization did a study on women who were exposed around Chernobyl. Many of them chose to have an abortion, but among those who didn't abort, the babies do not show an elevated birth defect rate. Yes, we do need to rethink the fear factor.
= = = = =
Later: Compare with the legacy of Bhopal
. A chemical incident, no radioactivity at all, has produced three generations of genetic damage.
Obviously we need to avoid all such incidents, radioactive or not. But we have been manipulated into applying a unique
and disproportionate paranoia to radioactivity. (Perhaps I'm so hot on this question because I took part in this Soviet-funded manipulation back in the '70s, thus I know how and why it happened.)