Fukushima

How Can You Talk About Radiation When the Butterflies are Flying?

With Japan having just increased the crisis level of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant disaster from four to seven, putting it on par with Chernobyl, it seems like this couldn’t be any more timelier.

I know, sorry. This is going to be a bummer. I know it would be easier to just pretend like this isn’t happening, or that we don’t need to worry ourselves about it. And I know some have doubted the dangers of high radiation levels in Japan, as they did in Chernobyl. Some have downplayed the concern over Japan’s current problems. After all, everything looks fine. But looks can be deceiving. And sometimes it takes a while for things to not look fine. For an example, take a look at these pictures by Robert Knoth from 2006, the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster. Some of those pictures are tough to look at, but they remind me that people like you and me are affected by this. Voices From Chornobyl does the same with even more power. And they bring me to the conclusion that the benefits of nuclear power are not worth the risk.

As we approach the 25th Anniversary of the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster (April 26, 1986), a Voices From Chornobyl staged reading and discussion is taking place this Friday in Hollywood to help raise awareness.

From their press release:

Voices from Chornobyl tells the aftermath of a mismanaged disaster through the words of those who survived. Written and directed by Cindy Marie Jenkins, the play follows six people asking “What is radiation?” and coping with their changing world.

Friday, April 15th
8pm – Play | Reading
9pm – Radiation Talkback
Buy Tickets $10
Paul G. Gleason Theatre, 6520 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90028

An informal Radiation Talkback will follow the reading.
Run Time: 50 mins.

Featuring: Bradford Beacom, Carolyn Blais, Enci, Aaron Lyons*, Shawn MacAulay* & Kappa Victoria Wood
Written and Directed by: Cindy Marie Jenkins
Produced by: Rachel Stoll and Cindy Marie Jenkins

Cash bar included. Parking and more info at www.voicesfromchornobyl.com.

A note about the Radiation Talkbacks: In light of recent events, friends of the project will discuss radiation and how we can understand it, including questions they ask themselves when faced with news about nuclear power, Japan, radiation levels, and Fukushima vs. Chornobyl. We are not professors nor experts, and you will probably leave with more questions than answers, but we wish to create a framework for understanding how nuclear power actually affects you, and resources as you learn.

Radiation Dose Chart proves Bananas are Evil

Mega-popular web-comic xkcd writer/artist Randall Munroe has created a really helpful chart showing radiation exposure comparisons. With the help of a Senior Reactor Operator at the Reed Research Reactor in Portland, Oregon, he compiled information on the relative radiation levels of things like daily life (none for talking on cell phones) to exposure at the accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl (lots). With the ongoing fears regarding the partial nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant following a devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, this should be of great interest to a lot of people. He notes at his blog though that there are bound to be mistakes since he is not a specialist and that this is intended for general information only. He also points to his friend’s own charts, which provides a Layman’s Intro to Radiation.

Chart by Randall Munroe (click to read full-size version)

According to his information, eating 1 banana is just as dangerous as living within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant for 1 year. Considering my past experience with bananas, I assume that means it is incredibly dangerous and merits immediate freak-out. Don’t let the bananas win.

(via Comics Alliance)

Voices From Chornobyl – suddenly way too relevant

Next month marks the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl Disaster. And here we are days after the terrifying earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku, Japan that has resulted in an unstable situation at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

It’s true that the two incidents do not have a direct 1:1 correlation. The nuclear power plant industry learned from that previous horrible incident but there’s still so much that we don’t know about this method of powering electricity. And there are still a lot of disturbing parallels between April 26, 1986, and the days and weeks that followed, and what is happening now.

“This is for thousands of years.”

I’ve seen some people dismiss the warnings and concerns with figures of low death counts from nuclear incidents. But our attention should not be determined by loss of life. The quality of life in Chernobyl was irreversibly changed, just as it is being changed forever in Japan.

In 2008, I served as associate producer for the above short demo of a dramatization by Cindy Marie Jenkins of a book of interviews of Chernobyl survivors. It’s called Voices from Chornobyl. If this video captures 1/10th of the heartbreak the people of Chernobyl went through then, or that the people of Japan are going through now, and gets you or someone you forward this on to, to consider helping the people of either region in the ongoing aftermath, I’ll feel like maybe I did something right.

Smiles for Japan: $25 art commissions by manga artist Nina Matsumoto will send 100% to Japan Society's Earthquake Relief Fund (click image for more info)

To fit in the comics side of me, manga artists in Japan have been expressing their support and encouragement through a wonderful series of art with a “Smiles for Japan” theme. Robot 6 has links to work by popular creators like Takehiko Inoue (Vagabond), Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball), Naoki Urasawa (20th Century Boys), Kanata Konami (Chi’s Sweet Home), Arina Tanemura (The Gentlemen’s Alliance Cross), Nina Matsumoto (Yokaiden) and more. (If only I could read Japanese.)

Also, Meltdown Comics (7522 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90046) is holding an art auction called We Heart Japan this Thursday, March 17, 8 PM – 11 PM, with 100% of proceeds going to the Japan NGO Earthquake Relief and Recovery Fund. The event was organized by anime voice actor Stephanie Sheh (Naruto) and comic book artist/graphic designer Pinguino Kolb.

To learn more about the ongoing Voices From Chornobyl project, please visit their website.

To donate to the Red Cross and their efforts to help the Japanese Red Cross respond to the earthquake/tsunami disaster, please visit their website.

And to get activisty for a moment: To learn more about the risks of nuclear power, visit NukeFree.org.

(For detail freaks like myself, the alternate spelling of Chernobyl in the title is a more accurate English spelling of the original Ukrainian name of the city.)