A rabbit is a fearsome beast if you’re a carrot.
If you’re not a carrot, the rabbit is more likely to be your meal.
That is why the Cave of Caerbannog scene near the end of Monty Python’s The Holy Grail is so hilarious. In that scene, the fearless knights are led to the mouth of the cave by a talkative wizard warning of a terrible monster that guards the cave. The monster turns out to be a little white rabbit, which, while vicious, is easily dispatched by a holy hand grenade. For a laugh, here is the scene in YouTube:
Yes, I said Japanese. Reuters reports that Japanese government officials have warned that all 54 of Japan’s nuclear power reactors could be shut down by next April if their host communities won’t allow them to operate.
This report accompanies worldwide “news” that one or more of the affected reactors at Fukushima melted down. I put “news” in quotes to indicate yet another instance in which news organizations have used their rhetorical skill to rehash speculation—which started on Day One of this “crisis”—on frankly rather boring possibilities of meltdown, and turn that rehash into something they had better tell everyone NOW. Why is this news? Because a news organization says it is!
Here is a sample of what is out there now, 89 days after the ferocious quake/tsunami that damaged the Fukushima reactors:
- ABC Lateline: “Fukushima escalates to worse-case possibility”
- San Antonio News: “Nuclear meltdown in Japan?”
- CNN: “Japan’s radiation twice as bad: full meltdown at 3 reactors”
Sounds scary, doesn’t it. But remember to keep in mind the Prime Number in this whole business. That is the only number that matters.
The Prime Number is zero. It represents the number of people who have died because of the nuclear situation at Fukushima.
Which kind of makes those sensational headlines sound like the wizard’s dire warnings in the Monty Python clip.
The scary sounding thing called “meltdown” may indeed have happened. Some or all of the fuel in any or all of the three affected Fukushima reactors could have melted.
And what is the upshot? Zero deaths, 89 days into the event.
Go back and look at the other meltdowns that have occurred in the history of the civilian nuclear sector. The other two, the NRX meltdown at Chalk River in 1952 and of course Three Mile Island in 1979, produced a casualty count exactly equal to that of Fukushima.
Not a single person has ever died because of a nuclear meltdown.
People in Germany and Japan have to keep their eye on the Prime Number. And so do we all.
If we do, we will see that that scary monster called “meltdown” is very much like the Monty Python rabbit. We’re not carrots. So why are we running away from this rabbit?