Fear Water

The Japan nuke plant damage, with so far zero casualties, still commands far more attention than the tsunami’s tens of thousands of deaths. Consider also:

When, in 1975, about 30 dams in central China failed in short succession due to severe flooding, an estimated 230,000 people died. Include the toll from this single event, and fatalities from hydropower far exceed the number of deaths from all other energy sources. (more)

Human-induced seismicity can be deadly if it triggers the release of accumulated tectonic strain on a large fault. The textbook case occurred in 1967 when the filling of a reservoir behind India’s hydroelectric Koyna Dam—completed six years earlier—unleashed a magnitude 6.3 quake, killing 180 people and leaving thousands homeless. Geophysicists continue to debate whether the Zipingpu Dam, completed in 2004, triggered the [2008] 7.9-magnitude earthquake that devastated China’s Sichuan province three years ago, killing over 70,000. (more)

Add in Katrina and other hurricanes and the Indonesian tsunami, and you might think the obvious lesson is: be afraid of water, not isotopes. People should fear living near the ocean, or under a dam, far more than being downwind of a nuke plant. Why so little fear of water?

Added 5p: I often had childhood nightmares of a tsunami, but never had any nightmares regarding other energy sources. So people clearly are capable of fearing water.

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