Damage mitigation

From my point of view, Masayoshi Son and the other irresponsible fear mongers are causing just about all of the damage from the accident, while TEPCO will have to pay all the compensation. I strongly disagree with the junk science concept of LNT (linear non threshold), which is falsified by multiple undeniable facts. I think none of the evacuations were necessary, and the government had no business ordering them.

But that’s just me. Let’s assume for a moment that there is some merit to what the other side says.

Imagine for a moment a different world where low level radiation actually leads to an increase of 0.2 percent in cancer risk from a base value of 42 percent. I don’t know if these figures are exactly right (I have taken them from this MIT report very much worth reading, at page 14). As far as I am concerned one fantasy figure will do as well as any other, since there is no risk in the real world.

In that case one would want to mitigate the damage. The only way people are talking about is avoiding radiation. Evacuate people. Have strict food safety rules and enforce them. Cancel that trip to a Fukushima spa you had in mind and book a vacation somewhere else.

There is another way to do that, however. Just start reducing other cancer risks, most of which people can easily influence.

Let’s start with smoking. Tobacco kills close to six million people a year, and about half of its users, according to the WHO tobacco fact sheet.

And from this page on tobacco and cancer at the WHO:

Tobacco use is the single greatest avoidable risk factor for cancer mortality worldwide, causing an estimated 22% of cancer deaths per year. In 2004, 1.6 million of the 7.4 million cancer deaths were due to tobacco use.

Japan has a smoking rate of about 43% for men and 13% for women and 29% overall. If a non-smoking campaign can get that figure down to half of the present values, that would obviously save a lot of lives.

Other obvious cancer risks the WHO mentions are obesity and alcohol abuse.

So here would be the idea to mitigate damage. Step one is to tell people that there might be a  slightly elevated risk of cancer from radiation (remember I am talking about an alternative universe where LNT actually is true here).

Step two is then to tell them the good news. They can compensate for that risk and then some, by following common sense rules on cancer prevention. All they have to do is stop smoking, overeating, and irresponsible drinking. And start getting some exercise.

Otherwise they are doomed by the radiation risk.

Until now I have heard no one in the irresponsible fear crowd mention this common sense strategy to mitigate the damage.

And I would have no problem whatsoever in agreeing to such a program even in the real world. There is really no reason to object to such a campaign to mitigate damage, even if you believe there is no radiation problem in the first place. Tobacco, obesity, and alcohol are real risks.

One Comment

Comments are closed.