Today, I finally got my first real nerves about leaving, complete with a full-blown panic attack about ongoing effects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. In my efforts to calm down, I decided getting more information on the situation was the way to go. Unfortunately, the following news item on youtube was the first thing I encountered.
“A nuclear rabbit has sparked online panic in Japan. Amateur footage shows an earless mutant rabbit, and the person who made the video claims it was shot just outside the exclusion zone near Japan’s crippled Fukushima plant. The clip has given rise to fears the radiation threat in the area is far worse than previously thought. The funny bunny has caused an online frenzy, with predictions that babies in Japan may soon be born with mutations.”
Far from feeling reassured, this rather silly, populistic news item managed to make me incredibly worried all of a sudden. I stayed worried until my mother was kind enough to point out that before the smoking ban in Belgian bars came into effect on June 30th, I sat for hours on end surrounded by cigarette smoke, while I know that second-hand smoking greatly increases the risk of getting lung cancer. If there had been no such smoking ban, I would have continued going to bars until the day I dropped dead, and chances are that lung cancer would have had nothing to do with that. People die, that’s a given. And as Alan Watts so poignantly phrases: “It’s better to have a short life, that is full of what you like doing, than a long life spent in a miserable way.” Leave it to mom.
As an added bonus however, I found two great resources explaining just what was what concerning the nuclear crisis in Japan. The first is this article, which answered most of my questions on potassium iodide pills. It’s the most readable explanation on how those pills work I’ve seen to date, and to summarize the entire article in a sentence, there’s no longer any need to take those pills because of the very short half-life of radioactive iodine. Over 95% of the radioactive iodine in the Japanese atmosphere has been dissolved. The real problem is now with radioactive cesium that has entered the food chain at various stages. There are countless tests on food samples, and I’ll just have to trust that most of the really badly poisoned food gets taken out of circulation. I can’t be certain, but then again, I’m not about to stay home for the rest of my life, in fear that something outside might do me in.
Another very interesting item I came across, was this chart, which details all the different radiation doses human beings absorb throughout their lives. Most fascinating. I wonder what happens to banana peels.