World media have taken the hysteria over the Fukushima situation to a new level. Each vehicle, desperate to maintain or increase audience, has fixated on the nuclear situation; the plight of the half million refugees of the earthquake and tsunami, cold and hungry, has taken second stage. These vehicles are attempting to increase audience using a tried-and-tested technique: skillful rhetoric designed to whip up fear. In other words, yellow journalism.
No problem with that by itself: business is business, and in the media, audience numbers matter. The problem is, it is panicking the hell out of the citizens of Japan. The stampede of evacuees from near Fukushima is probably more dangerous than the radiation.
I am not saying they should not be concerned, especially the ones who live close to the plant. Easy for me, comfortably ensconced in my hibernacle in Muskoka, to tell them not to worry. But absent from the hysterical headlines is something that I consider to be the central fact so far: that the Fukushima Daiichi situation has yet to produce its first fatality. When the situation is under control, I am certain that among the myriad of problems facing that part of Japan right now, the Fukushima plant will prove to have been among the least serious.
When it comes to mass consciousness, we humans have a propensity to oscillate between exuberant optimism and hysterical pessimism. We are obviously in a pessimistic valley right now. We have to stay cool and keep important facts firmly in mind. One of them is that Fukushima, while serious if you are a plant worker or someone who lives in the immediate area, is a manageable problem.