Saturday, October 12, 2002
Anybody who's the slightest bit interested in science should be checking out this blog. It's written by an Australian who seems to know his scientific onions, as it were. He is a former member of an environmentalist group, and broke with the Greens in disgust when he realized they weren't going to let mere science get in the way of their political agenda. The particular post I've referenced deals with the risks of everyday exposure to radiation as opposed to possible nuclear risks (specifically nuclear power).
I am the radiologic supervisor for my office. I have a license to prove it. One earns this privilege - if privilege it is - by taking a state test, which I did about four years ago; I still remember the experience. The test was given in Norwalk or Carson - one of those nondescript towns in southern Los Angeles County, but the site was picked because that's where the county government seat is. I had to study for it; I was given a thick stack of information about radiation, X-rays, OSHA precautions, etc. The surprising thing I found in the course of preparing for the test was that living creatures are a lot more resistant to radiation than you might think, probably because we are all exposed to quite a bit of background radiation every day of our lives. It's just part of existing in the universe. In other words, all life had to evolve DNA that is resistant to radiation damage. Obviously if someone is exposed to a massive amount of radiation, or to amounts that are appreciably higher than normal over long periods of time, the body's defense mechanisms will not work. But the average amount of medically related radiation, or nuclear-power-plant radiation, or radiation in spent uranium fuel is much, much smaller than you would think.
I just wish people would do the math and look at the science, instead of under- or overestimating the damage we (the U.S.) do to the environment. And the last I checked, third world countries are contributing a lot more to pollution than industrially advanced countries. We're not the ones burning down entire forests and using coal to heat cities.
Just a thought.