I hope that you are sitting comfortable and then I will begin. I want to remind you about the story of the boy who cried wolf; I suspect that all of you know this story. This wayward lad kept on yelling wolf to see people run around looking for the snap jawed monster, in the end everyone became irked with this juvenile delinquent. They then choose to ignore the lads cries, in the end a real wolf appears. I think the common version of the sorry tale involves serious economic hardship which is visited upon the whole society (the wolf eats all the sheep) but I think a better version would be one where the wolf gets an early dinner in the form of the boy ! In the latter version he has to suffer the consequences of his ill advised words.
Now we are coming up to the first anniversary of the Fukushima event, I hold the view that a lot of both good and bad stuff has been written about the event. Also a lot of good stuff and bad stuff has been said in public and in private by a range of people.
I have noticed something rather interesting and worrying, it does seem that some sections of the media and some members of the environmental lobby have been exaggerating the event and making comments on topics which they know little about, or worse still commenting on matters on which they know a little but not much. I always say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing to have.
Also I have noticed some very poor science in the form of people cherry picking data to create a misleading data set which is then used to support their point of view.
Now before some of you decide that I am some monster who likes forcing mother nature to do degrading horrible stuff or enjoys seeing environmental damage, I want to point out that out of self interest I want to be able to enjoy the benefits of a good and healthy environment. I hold the view that for a good and healthy environment we need not just the pretty animals and cute looking flowers but we also need to look after the ugly and the invisible organisms. Things like ugly toads, vultures and soil bacteria all have their place in nature. One of the ways I try to maintain the environment or even restore it is through the practise of my profession.
Back to what I need to tell you about, the great problem I see is that events like Chernobyl and Fukushima are perfectly ugly and horrible accidents. But the disagreeable nature of these accidents is not a license for dishonesty.
I worry that exaggerations of the health/environmental effects of these events, scare mongering and well intended dishonesty (where a person makes up evidence to support what they think is the right answer) will do a lot of harm in the long run. This is because people will stop paying any attention to the prophets of doom, in the hysterical frenzy nobody will be able to make a sensible/calm/rational choice and society will be distracted from worse matters.