We Never Learn — And History Repeats Itself
It takes a while, when you have something new, to know how bad it is going to end up being.
Marie Curie not only discovered radium – she discovered radiation poisoning. The very work that earned her a Nobel prize killed her.
At that time, it had never happened before, so nobody knew what it was. That was a long time before Chernobyl. And a longer time still before whatever happened in Japan.
I mean whatever happened. We still don’t know exactly how much leaked out, and what it can cause to go wrong. The Japanese have issued a kind apology. They have even come up with a cute animated film to explain what is going on — although there is no doubt in my mind that these are not the same people as those who issued the apology.
You can watch the video on the continuation page.
My first exposure to radiation as a concept came with elementary school science, at a school for gifted children. The couple of boys in my class thought it was something like Nazis but invisible. They were both Jewish, as were at least a couple of the girls, and had a lot of fun teasing us all about how we were going to die of something radiation-related.
Me, I knew better. I was not over six or seven years old when I had my first two very positive exposures to the concept of radiation.
The first was a cute little model of a radioactive power plant at the Boston Museum of Science. The plant was not more than six inches high and courteously stationed on a low table so children could easily see it. When you pushed a button to indicate there had been a radiation leak, an angry siren sounded and four plastic columns sank into some clear plastic that represented a large pool of water. When the siren stopped and the columns slowly rose again, we were assured that all would be well.
This was nothing compared to our visit to a real, live nuclear reactor — the Yankee Atomic Power Plant. It was somewhere on the Mohawk Trail, in that wooded primeval part of northwestern Massachusetts where the place names were already recognizable to me from James Fenimore Cooper’s stories.
I was so small I had to hold a hand, and I got father’s because I was well behaved back then. My brother, who ran off easily in directions where I did not even know there were directions, was then required to wear a harness of some sort. Now such children might be controlled with Ritalin but then it was a harness.
There, they showed us a filmstrip. Remember those? Not videos, not movies, but a kind of slide show, which used that cheesy music we now associate with late fifties and early sixties documentaries. The slides showed that the devastation that was part of the end of World War II – pity Hiroshima and Nagasaki — had become “harnessed” for peaceful uses.
The important take home lesson — It would keep down our electric bills.
That seems to be the most important thing in today’s world.
And as we have seen at Three Mile Island, and Chernobyl, and now at Fukushima, the devastation that ended World War II is not quite over.
I took care of a fine gentleman once who had gone to high school about 10 miles from Hiroshima, about 20 years after Enola Gay dropped her payload. We detoxified him in a myriad of creative ways, thus improving a treatment-resistant bipolar illness.
I do not know as much as I wish I did about what this kind of exposure could have done to other people. I do know about lots of cases of lots of different kinds of anxiety and depression that have gotten better after the detoxification from heavy metals, including Uranium of all sorts — often cited as a contaminant of ground water.
It is true that in some circumstances radioactivity is helpful or therapeutic. Yes, it can sometimes diminish the frequency of certain cancers or infections. That is why there is such a thing as radiation therapy. But in all of these situations, the radiation is controlled. This is something Ann Coulter did not mention in her “radiation is good for you” column.
Of course, Ms. Coulter is a political operative – not a scientist (nor a medical doctor). We can’t let her assertions stand unchallenged (although a great many “true believers” will blindly follow her and her compatriots, no matter what facts they have to ignore). Check this link if you want an explanation of how the facts have been twisted to promote a certain political agenda.
We don’t know yet how radiation is going to affect future generations. But from looking at the results of Three Mile Island from the vantage point of 25 years – there will be nothing positive.
We need to reassess the advantages and risks, as we learn more and more. When I went to the Yankee Atomic Power Plant, I really thought this was the cheapest and safest way known to get people the power to make their lives easier and more convenient.
This needs to be re-assessed.
We are ethnocentric, rarely completely considering the experiences of other countries, until our own has been affected.