Home > Information Graphics > [ Infographics ] Charting External Human Costs

[ Infographics ] Charting External Human Costs

March 18th, 2011

via ProPublica

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Thomas Information Graphics

  1. paul kane
    April 1st, 2011 at 01:44 | #1

    I find your posts shocking, sometimes. I mean, I guess I understand it if you are trying to speak to the way folks get worked up about a dramatic incident like a nuclear accident, without recognizing the appalling toll on lives and communities and the environment get every day from reckless hydrocarbon fuel use, but really, it looks to me like you are just stooging for nuclear energy, and I find that shocking. Maybe your perspective is skewed by the fact that you are so deeply involved in issues relating to hydrocarbon exploitation. But Cherynobyl, as you know, may have caused a million deaths or more. I guess the numbers you are using are US numbers, but really, Tom. You have to know that skews the case you are making tremendously. Anyway, it’s possible that Three MIle Island has a considerable death toll. I think it’s virtually that human use of nuclear power has caused an enormous toll of hurt or dead, uncountable, because the stuff degrades the environment so severely at every stage along the path of its use, and virtually forever. And if you are tempted to trust the reassurances of ‘experts’, I suggest you consider that the ‘experts’ have also reassured us that depleted uranium is fine. But, in fact, it is a truly monstrous weapon of mass destruction, as the people of Fallujah apparently know. In general, the destructive potential of nuclear power plants is almost unimaginable. Think about what the plant in Japan is doing to Japan as a human environment - and that radiation is spreading throughout the environment of the planet, too.

    The best way to look at this is that the reckless use of nuclear power is the tip of the iceberg, the iceberg being generally reckless use of power by ‘evolved’ humanity, by ‘civilization’.

    BP in the Gulf of Mexico, the tar sands, fracking with unknown chemicals to Fukushima, the mentality is the same, and it ought to terrify us.

  2. April 1st, 2011 at 06:07 | #2

    I’m glad someone responded. I agree. It reads like and OSHA document. This was perhaps one of the more curious graphics I’ve seen in a long time. It was put out by ProPublica.

    I like the idea of charting the externatilities of what is claimed, and this graphic prompted me into thinking about the need to do just that.

  3. paul kane
    April 10th, 2011 at 23:28 | #3

    The problem with graphics is that it makes factoids seem real. They aren’t real. Even the most scrupulous ‘facts’ reflect points of view, in various ways, inevitably, and most mechanisms used to produce ‘facts’ are far, far, far from scrupulous. Graphics can be powerful, but they can also be dangerous. I remember that until I saw that famous graph of the Palestinians’ diminishing land in the Middle East, I just didn’t quite ‘get it’. So a graph can be powerful, but it can powerfully falsify. It might be interesting to show graphs as fact clouds, that is, overlapping sets of facts - but even there, folks might be tempted to split the difference. For example, if Orb claims that over a million Iraqis died due to the US invasion, and the US government says naw, maybe just 50,000 or whatever, then a certain kind of graphic sense would (graphically) split the difference and say wall, maybe 100,000 then. Well, come on, the actual deaths have to be closer to the million mark or maybe even well over it. Numbers, facts, can fool ya, and when presented graphically, they can fool ya even more.

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