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The UN Would Never Lie to George Monbiot

And then we finish up with DemocracyNow, March 30 2011, live...

GEORGE MONBIOT:--that so far the death toll from Chernobyl amongst both workers and local people is 43. Am I--sorry, are you saying you didn't know that they had examined this--

HELEN CALDICOTT: That's a lie, George. That's a lie.

In sum: If you believe that less than fifty people died after the greatest nuclear meltdown in history, then I've got a fantastic house to sell you, mansion, pool, hot tub, everything. It's a steal... just outside Fukushima, Japan. Ocean view, stunning. Email me (George).

by das monde on Sun Apr 3rd, 2011 at 10:00:49 PM EST
Then there's THIS.


The European Committee on Radiation Risk was formed in 1997 following a resolution made at a conference in Brussels arranged by the Green Group in the European Parliament.

The ECRRs remit is:

To independently estimate, based on its own evaluation of all scientific sources, in as much detail as necessary and using the most appropriate scientific framework, all of the risks arising from exposure to radiation, taking a precautionary approach.
To develop the best scientific predictive model of detriment following exposure to radiation, presenting observations which appear to support or challenge this model, and highlighting areas of research which are needed to further complete the picture.
To develop an ethical analysis and philosophical framework to form the basis of its policy recommendations, related to the state of scientific knowledge, lived experience and the Precautionary Principle.
To present the risks and the detriment model, with the supporting analysis, in a manner to enable and assist transparent policy decisions to be made on radiation protection of the public and the wider environment.
The committee now has more than 50 experts from many countries collaborating on the issue of radiation risk and has set up a number of sub-committees and groups. The committee's risk model was presented in 2003 in Brussels and is published as the ECRR2003 Recommendations: the Health Effects of Ionising Radiation Exposure at Low Dose for Radiation Protection Purposes (ISBN 1897761 24 4). The report, now in its second printing, has been widely circulated and translated and published in French, Russian, Spanish and Japanese.

Apologies if it's already been posted and i missed it.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 02:26:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here is a video of that interview.

By the way, notice Guardian in its fair and balanced form:

The incalculable cost of nuclear power
Despite the Fukushima catastrophe, nuclear energy has green advocates. Low carbon it may be, but are they pricing it right?
by Thomas Noyes

Fukushima: the future is unknown, but the present is terrible enough
We must not let our fear of the potential risks of radiation eclipse the real and present dangers the Japanese people face
by Jonathan Watts

by das monde on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 02:34:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wait, George Monbiot of all people subscribes to the 50-dead count for Chernobyl?

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 04:16:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The best parts of the takedown are:

Joe Giambrone: The UN Would Never Lie to George Monbiot

The U.N./IAEA does concede (unlike George Monbiot) that their numbers are not definitive, and that the true death toll cannot be known very accurately, particularly with the methodology they chose to employ:
"It is impossible to assess reliably, with any precision, numbers of fatal cancers caused by radiation exposure due to Chernobyl accident."
(IAEA, p.7)

George Monbiot instead tells the world that this study produced the "official death toll from Chernobyl in 25 years."

Then there is
The actual study also left room for the tally to grow, without directly admitting that it was surely much higher:
"The international expert group predicts that among the 600 000 persons receiving more significant exposures... the possible increase in cancer mortality due to this radiation exposure might be up to a few per cent."
(IAEA, p.15)
Now "a few percent" of 600,000 people is a few multiples of 6,000 people (!). Large enough to dwarf the 43 deaths which I presume are limited to those due to acute radiation poisoning at the time of the accident and in its immediate aftermath. Or are they talking about "a fdew per cent" increase in the number of cancer deaths (a rather smaller number).
The "few per cent" are not included in what George Monbiot calls the "official death toll." Neither were the tens of thousands of stillbirths. And there is yet much dispute over spikes in nearly every type of cancer in those regions after 1986.
"Some radiation-induced increases in fatal leukaemia, solid cancers and circulatory system diseases have been reported in Russian emergency and recovery operation workers."
(IAEA, p.16)

Again, not reflected in Mr. Monbiot's magical "official" toll of "43."



Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 04:35:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let me pitch Chernobyl's Downplayed Victims again: the numbers game is discussed in detail, including both the nuances and shortcomings of the Chernobyl Forum report.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 03:17:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by das monde on Wed Apr 6th, 2011 at 01:21:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are problems with Giambrone's attack on Monbiot, which is that he himself doesn't understand the things that he accuses Monbiot of not understanding.

Joe Giambrone: The UN Would Never Lie to George Monbiot

Monbiot and his cult of technofascism either fail to understand the difference between radiation that is outside the body vs. radiation that is trapped internal to the body, or else they know full well and just don't give a damn.

Dr. Caldicott:

"You don't understand internal emitters. ... They say it's low-level radiation. That's absolute rubbish. If you inhale a millionth of a gram of plutonium, the surrounding cells receive a very, very high dose. Most die within that area, because it's an alpha emitter. The cells on the periphery remain viable. They mutate, and the regulatory genes are damaged. Years later, that person develops cancer. Now, that's true for radioactive iodine, that goes to the thyroid; cesium-137, that goes to the brain and muscles; strontium-90 goes to bone, causing bone cancer and leukemia."
But then Giambrone accuses the IAEA:
In their own words:
"Because many organs and tissues were exposed as a result of the Chernobyl accident, it has been very common to use an additional concept, that of effective dose, which characterizes the overall health risk due to any combination of radiation. (emphasis in original)" (U.N./IAEA, 2006, p.12)
This statement reveals an unscientific bias, straight off the bat. Why should the U.N., while finding out how many people actually died from Chernobyl, need to rely on a fictional concept called "effective dose?"
The point is that the fact that Plutonium is more toxic inside the body than outside the body is captured by the concept of an "effecive dose". You can't both chastise Monbiot for failing to make the distinction and then the IAEA for weighting different sources of radiation acting differently on different tissues.

Not to speak of the fact that this is a filmmaker insulting a journalist over which experts to trust, which ends up being just a contest in argument by authority between two laymen, for the lay public.

What was it we were saying about those pesky little things called facts yesterday?

Facts by themselves are rather useless: only when supporting an argument do they become useful. And most of the arguments made every day are essentially 'emotional'. Whether or not we accept an argument is often an intuitive estimation of whether or not acceptance will make us feel better.


Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 04:44:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not to go into calling Monbiot a shill, anti-intellectual, nonsense, technofascist cultist, bitch-slapped, moronic...

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 04:48:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am rather baffled to see how terms of radiation, effective doses, absorbed doses are mixed up in the Sievert terminology. I see a sloppy scientific standard there.

Firstly, Sievert is a unit of dose, so it is questionable to use it to measure background radiation. If there are no living creatures to absorb any dose, whom are we kidding? When they use microsieverts in medical applications, they indeed talk about dose.

Secondly, Sievert is weighted both over radiation type and tissue. And obviously, when organs are hit randomly by background radiation, weighting by tissue makes no sense. You just get some average number, under conservative assumptions.

So I see quite several loopholes to obfuscate and abuse results of Sievert measurements. The weights are politically influenced by IAEA preferences, you can be sure. Here is an example how these Sieverts can lie: they say full-body scans give 5-8 milisieverts - but here the weighting factor is probably high. So saying "ah, this radiation is just a CT scan per day" can be badly misleading. (And besides, the two weightings need not be "multiplicative". Say, beta radiation may affect organs in different proportions than gamma.)

The term "effecive dose" as it is measured captures only very approximately that difference between outside and inside radiation. It does differ much whether a particle splits at your nose tip or in your lungs. So I share Giambrone's sentiment of "effective" unscientific bias. Weighting just by radiation type is ok - but that "measurement" should be distinguished from supposed weighting by tissues as well. And it would be great if the distinction between radiation and radioactivity would be reflected in terminology (and technically possible) - but sure, fast measurements of heavy particle concentrations must be tricky.

by das monde on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 05:24:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You have made this point before, and it is correct. One of the problems with this is that there isn't a single measure that captures the risks from radiation exposure.

The health effects of radiation depend on the kind of radiation (alpha, beta, gamma), its energy (kinetic), its intensity (time rate of emission), and the tissue affected. And then different kinds of tissues respond differently.

The way "effective dose" is defined is reminiscent of Drake's formula where, just because you have separated a factor (tissue sensitivity) and given it a multiplicative weight doesn't make the method "scientific". It also doesn't make it "unscientific", may be just cargo cult science.

In any case, the evil IAEA and WHO already incorporate the risk from radiation inside the body in their assessments. Otherwise, nobody would care much about plutonium contamination, since for all intents and purposes the health effects of plutonium come from ingested/inhaled plutonium, not from its contribution to "background radiation". None of this is controversial:

Plutonium - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Isotopes and compounds of plutonium are radioactive poisons that accumulate in bone marrow. ...

...

Even though alpha radiation does not penetrate the skin, it does irradiate internal organs if plutonium is inhaled or ingested.[33] The skeleton, where plutonium is absorbed by the bone surface, and the liver, where it collects and becomes concentrated, are at risk. ...

and making it sound like one side or the other of a debate is ignoring such things is less than helpful.

Maybe the "really scientific" way to give the data is to break it down by isotope, but then what does it mean?

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 05:41:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can the whole weighting be explained and justified in a few lines?
by das monde on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 05:51:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What do you mean?

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 05:56:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What do I have to know (and have) to measure the "effective dose" on the street, without a custom ready shiny instrument?
by das monde on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 06:13:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At a minimum you need to be able to measure ambient radiation by type:

Sievert - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Equivalency Weighting Factors[1] Radiation type and energy range Factor
electrons, positrons, muons, or photons (gamma, X-ray) 1
neutrons <10 keV 5
neutrons 10-100 keV 10
neutrons 100 keV - 2 MeV 20
neutrons 2 MeV - 20 MeV 10
neutrons >20 MeV 5
protons other than recoil protons and energy >2 MeV 2
alpha particles, fission fragments, nonrelativistic heavy nuclei 20
 
How are you going to do that "without a custom ready shiny instrument"?

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 06:25:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So the Sievert is an estimate of the damage done by some combination of radioactivity present in an environment, and the accuracy of this estimate depends strongly on the degree to which various sources of that radiation is incopropated INTO living organisims?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 11:05:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes here they're telling you that the cross-section of interaction of neutrons with living tissue is largest between 100 keV and 2 MeV.
neutrons 10-100 keV 10
neutrons 100 keV - 2 MeV 20
neutrons 2 MeV - 20 MeV 10
Which sort of makes sense: extremely energetic neutrons, being neutral particles, will just whizz past living matter having a shorter time to interact with atomic nuclei, while low-energy neutrons will have a low penetration depth.

But the specific numerical factors must have been determined empirically though who knows what procedures.

Rolf Maximilian Sievert - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Professor Sievert (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈsiːvəʈ]) was born in Stockholm, Sweden. He served as head of the physics laboratory at Sweden's Radiumhemmet from 1924 to 1937, when he became head of the department of radiation physics at the Karolinska Institute. He played a pioneering role in the measurement of doses of radiation especially in its use in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. In later years, he focused his research on the biological effects of repeated exposure to low doses of radiation. In 1964, he founded the International Radiation Protection Association, serving for a time as its chairman. He also chaired the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation.

He invented a number of instruments for measuring radiation doses, the most widely known being the Sievert chamber.



Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 11:10:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How are you going to do that "without a custom ready shiny instrument"?

To put it in other way, how can you verify what the "custom ready shiny instrument" is saying with more basic means? Do you know other measurements that are comparatively hard to replicate independently?  

by das monde on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 10:43:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To put it in other way, how can you verify what the "custom ready shiny instrument" is saying with more basic means?

If you trust that the manufacturer is not completely full of shit, you can read the specifications to see whether it is capable of doing what you want it to do.

If you're just looking at one on TV, you have no way to reassure yourself that it does what the newsies claim it does. Even if the manufacturer is honest (which he usually is), and even if the newsie understands the difference between a dosimeter a Geiger counter (which he usually doesn't), the TV format is not conducive to providing verifiable facts.

When I see something measuring radiation on TV, I tend to assume that it's a Geiger counter, because those are sufficiently useful that you want them around and sufficiently simple (and cheap) that they can be issued in bulk. They also make better TV than dosimeters, because Geiger counters go click-click-click, while dosimeters are quiet until they tell you to haul ass (and a newsie won't be allowed to come along if there's even a remote chance that the dosimeter will tell him to haul ass at some point during the show). Geiger counters measure Becquerel, however, and any conversion from Bq to Sv/h must necessarily rely on some pre-set assumptions about the distribution of radioactive atoms and the ratio between ambient and internal exposure.

As a practical matter, you use the Geiger counter to tell whether you are in one of four kinds of situation:

  1. Safe, so far.

  2. Leave as soon as practical.

  3. OMFG GTFO NOW!

  4. You'll be dead within the hour anyway. Might as well get the job done while you're here.

You don't need three significant figures to make that distinction.

Do you know other measurements that are comparatively hard to replicate independently?

Oh, lots. Particulate pollution levels and pollen readings, just off the top of my head.

What I can not recall off the top of my head is one that combines this level of obscurity with quite so strong vested interests.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 11:46:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's deconstruct this example: Polonium - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Alpha particles emitted by polonium will damage organic tissue easily if polonium is ingested, inhaled, or absorbed, although they do not penetrate the epidermis and hence are not hazardous if the polonium is outside the body. [edit] Acute effects

The median lethal dose (LD50) for acute radiation exposure is generally about 4.5 Sv.[36] The committed effective dose equivalent 210Po is 0.51 µSv/Bq if ingested, and 2.5 µSv/Bq if inhaled.

So, are we to understand that the effective dose for Polonium-210 is
  • 0 (negligible) if outside the body
  • 0.51 µSv/Bq if ingested
  • 2.5 µSv/Bq if inhaled


Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 06:07:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The greater weight assigned to alpha emissions is justified by the fact that alpha particles are really, really messy - they have both higher charge and higher momentum than beta, by a couple of orders of magnitude.

I don't know how the dose weighing by body part is done, but if I were doing it I would base it partly on the sensitivity of the tissue type hit, partly on how much I'd like to keep the organ in question and partly on how much any future kids would like me to keep the organ in question (so reproductive organs would get a comparatively higher weight due to the risk of germ line mutations).

External sources would be expected to hit salvage workers equally, while inhaled and ingested pollution hits your stomach, gut, lungs and chest first, then probably your liver and kidneys.

As an aside, I would not find "one extra CT scan a day" at all reassuring. CT scans are not harmless - they're just a lot less harmful than the stuff they are used to find.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 06:07:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
I don't know how the dose weighing by body part is done, but if I were doing it I would base it partly on the sensitivity of the tissue type hit, partly on how much I'd like to keep the organ in question and partly on how much any future kids would like me to keep the organ in question (so reproductive organs would get a comparatively higher weight due to the risk of germ line mutations).
In addition, different cell types are more or less differentiated and therefore at different risk of cancer and mutation.

Very undifferentiated cells (stem cells) are the most sensitive to genetic damage and the most able to mutate into cancerous cells. This is why the bone marrow is so sensitive and low radiation to it causes leukemia (high radiation simply destroys the tissue). The same gows for the gonads. Highly differentiated cells are less susceptible to mutating into cancer cells - they are more likely to just die because of mutations than to survive as a cancer cell. Also, the ability to metasthasize is linked to how undifferentiated a cancer cell is, because a cell cannot just migrate and survive in the midst of another tissue. The closer a cell is to a stem cell, the easier it is.

Whether this can be captured by a multiplicative factor for committed equivalent dose is a different question...

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 06:13:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sievert - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tissue type Factor
 
bone surface, skin 0.01
bladder, breast, liver, esophagus, thyroid, other 0.05
bone marrow, colon, lung, stomach 0.12
gonads 0.20


Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 06:29:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Before we write off the IAEA, this presentation Biological effects of ionizing radiation at molecular and cellular levels (PowerPoint) seems quite good, and it explains the efect of what they call "indirect" effect of ionizing radiation, where radiation ionizes some atom or molecule and the products of this ionization are the ones that act on the DNA. There's in particular a slide where it is argued that because of the lifetime of OH- radicals in water, there is a tube around DNA where ionizing radiation can have an indirect effect on the DNA by ionizing the water.

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 5th, 2011 at 01:03:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Looking back at Monbiot's now infamous article in The Guardian:  Japan nuclear crisis should not carry weight in atomic energy debate
Before I go any further, and I'm misinterpreted for the thousandth time, let me spell out once again what my position is. I have not gone nuclear. But, as long as the following four conditions are met, I will no longer oppose atomic energy.

1. Its total emissions - from mine to dump - are taken into account, and demonstrate that it is a genuinely low-carbon option

2. We know exactly how and where the waste is to be buried

3. We know how much this will cost and who will pay

4. There is a legal guarantee that no civil nuclear materials will be diverted for military purposes

To these I'll belatedly add a fifth, which should have been there all along: no plants should be built in fault zones, on tsunami-prone coasts, on eroding seashores or those likely to be inundated before the plant has been decommissioned or any other places which are geologically unsafe. This should have been so obvious that it didn't need spelling out. But we discover, yet again, that the blindingly obvious is no guarantee that a policy won't be adopted.

What is noteworthy in connection with the debate with Helen Caldicott is that Monbiot's "emissions" concers are entirely about CO2. He's assuming that "no radiation is released" if all the other conditions are met.

Giambrone quotes

When directed to the New York Academy of Sciences compendium of 5,000 of these translated studies on Chernobyl, George Monbiot simply dismisses these numerous studies as "cherry picking."

"Well, we have to use the best available science, not cherry-pick our sources..."

He uses this buzzword at least three times, as he also uses the "climate change deniers" smear again and again. This is Monbiot's style of so-called "debate."

So here we have a single-issue global warming advocate (Monbiot) accusing (or so Giambrone implies) a single-issue radiation contamination advocate (Caldicott) of being a climate change denier and coal advocate. I suppose then Monbiot can be accused of being an anthropogenic background radiation exacerbation denier.

Are we having fun yet?

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 05:13:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem with Monbiots proposition is the false dilemma: its only nuclear or coal. Plus, he implies that only total solutions are acceptable - so he mentions renewables asif only for politeness.

There are other alternatives, often complimentary. One clear unspoken alternative is to start consuming energy more prudently. It is a little dirty secret that energy supply is peaking now: peak oil is basically acknowledged; nuclear energy would not be growing much even without Fukushima (otherwise they would not be running old horses unduly long); renewables would not compensate enough. And this is in the world accustomed to continuous growth of energy supplies. If the world economy cannot live without that much energy - too bad for the economy. Trying to preserve the energy status quo is becoming a serious gamble for this civilization. If radiation is healthy in some doses, so must be a naked pressure to waste less energy. Otherwise this pressure comes out in awful political ways.

For example, today's political economy stands on the implicit promise of "sustained" some 3.5% economic growth in near future again. That's 100% in 20 years. In other words, we are supposed to buy twice as many TVs and go to a dentist twice as often in 20 years - or compensate with other "consumption" somewhere 4-8 times or more. In the latest growth decade the most consistently growing industry was financial, right? So now we have indebted nations and populations, and a few sort of revolutions around the Mediterranean. What will we have in 20 years?

by das monde on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 06:14:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A false dilemma? Not to the Chinese, Indians, Brazilians, Indonesians, South Africans, Russians, Koreans, hell, even the Americans!

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 04:54:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
So here we have a single-issue global warming advocate (Monbiot) accusing (or so Giambrone implies) a single-issue radiation contamination advocate (Caldicott) of being a climate change denier and coal advocate. I suppose then Monbiot can be accused of being an anthropogenic background radiation exacerbation denier.

Are we having fun yet?

And indeed, the knives are out among the greens:

The unpalatable truth is that the anti-nuclear lobby has misled us all | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian

I began to see the extent of the problem after a debate last week with Helen Caldicott. Dr Caldicott is the world's foremost anti-nuclear campaigner. She has received 21 honorary degrees and scores of awards, and was nominated for a Nobel peace prize. Like other greens, I was in awe of her. In the debate she made some striking statements about the dangers of radiation. So I did what anyone faced with questionable scientific claims should do: I asked for the sources. Caldicott's response has profoundly shaken me.
(h/t Colman)

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 5th, 2011 at 06:36:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New rule of thumb: single issue campaigners are dead wrong.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Apr 5th, 2011 at 06:43:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But how can you campaign effectively unless it's single-issue?

(a question for the professionals such as Sven)

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 5th, 2011 at 06:44:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, you probably can't. We're fucked.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Apr 5th, 2011 at 06:51:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That we are.

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 5th, 2011 at 06:52:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Depends on the audience: what they already know, where they are prepared to go (what are they ready to listen to), what will make them active in some way.

If you step back far enough, any bunch of issues can be made into a single issue. You have to step back far enough for a graspable gestalt to appear. Typical framed gestalty issues would include justice, fairness, equality, survival etc. These gestalts tend to be the content of editorials.

But while 'single issue' is easier to create, the fundamental change in communication over the last 20 years has been the growing awareness that everything is connected to everything else. It is getting harder and harder to do 'single issue'.

I don't know how we will handle this problem. It is cropping up for me quite regularly now.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Apr 5th, 2011 at 07:57:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why do political pollsters keep asking people what they think the biggest problem is?

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 5th, 2011 at 08:24:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
so they can look good to the most voters, rather than dealing with the problem in a way that might not be popular?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Apr 5th, 2011 at 08:30:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Solved problems aren't news. Tell the press a story in two halves - the problem first and the solution later. Then they get a disaster story one day and triumph story the next."

- Humphrey, Yes Minister

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Apr 5th, 2011 at 08:41:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sven Triloqvist:

the growing awareness that everything is connected to everything else. It is getting harder and harder to do 'single issue'.

I don't know how we will handle this problem. It is cropping up for me quite regularly now.

there are so many 'single issues' vying for prioritisation, though right now the global reality of 400+ potential fukushimas all depending on us keeping them chilled for millenia in a post fossil fuel, diminishing water reality is focussing a lot of minds, ditto exporting 'democracy *beta' to the oppressed (by 'our guys' bastards).

trying to keep two eyes on many balls in the air at once.

it's like in one's personal life, there's so much to do, each thing important, but none makes sense without the context of the others. if one gets too far ahead of the others, the kilter goes out.

the earth, our relationship to it, whether we use our knowledge to further befriend it, or to use it as a cheap goods depo/waste dump, how can anything trump that? without that we are a million more times more fucked than if the banks fail, or oil runs out and we have to remember how to stretch a bit more without some of the conveniences we have become used to.
the sins of the fathers... we have inherited the work of mad ancestors, as well as the genius.

to preserve the way of life of a privileged few we've hocked the future, gambled ecological balance for quick returns, and now we're up shit creek.

the are so many ways to be useful, so many examples to follow and reset. no need for many more new dots, more the need to connect the ones we have.

the privilege of living on this beautiful planet has a high price of knowledge to make it sustainable, today you may write something insightful, tonight you may dance, tomorrow you're studying your local watershed.

the only danger is the dilution of diffusion, becoming overwhelmed by the plethora of problems till you worry all the time and your spark feels too damped down to fire.

some will run with one issue, some (like most here) take a more polymath approach, so not to go so far out on one branch that they can't see the trunk any more.

humanity is like a diseased tree, still producing fresh, healthy growth, but with a blight eating away at its core.

some branches won't last long, others will. the game as i see it is to choose between them.

thanks to the discourse here, prioritisation becomes easier, if never easy.

managed decline never is, i guess.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Apr 5th, 2011 at 08:55:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Optimist!

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 6th, 2011 at 12:56:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
doomer!
;)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Apr 10th, 2011 at 04:02:43 AM EST
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