Rupert Murdoch's paper The Australian reports on a new study that says the risk of radiation is "greatly exaggerated."
I haven't read the study - which apparently draws its conclusions from research on the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster - but the article is a splendid example of conservatarian journamalism, as thus:
Research into the aftermath of the meltdown at the Soviet nuclear reactor has suggested that low levels of radioactivity are not as harmful as believed - and may even be beneficial.That's a fairly startling claim, and you'd think that it'd necessitate some explanation of radiation's "beneficial" effects in this context. But the article says nothing further: no anecdotes, no quotes, no evidence, no nothing.
Next, we're invited to question the public's mental association between radiation and death:
Mike Repacholi, of the World Health Organisation radiation program, said: "People hear radiation, they think of the atomic bomb and they think of thousands of deaths."They think of thousands of deaths? I can't imagine why. The article continues:
The UN Chernobyl Forum estimates that no more than 4000 people will die as a direct result of fallout, while radiation may be a contributory factor in another 5000 deaths.The death toll stands at 56, as far as I know. Even if no one else died, I'd still find this alleged statement by Repacholi dubious:
The main negative health impacts were not caused by the radiation, but a fear of it, he said.I haven't seen the final tally of people who died due to fear of radiation, but I'll let that go. I assume that in light of these new findings, The Australian and other Murdoch papers will downgrade their estimation of the danger posed by dirty bombs.
(Illustration by Cornelia Hesse-Honegger.)