Jul
01
2011

Industry Views Prevail on Radiation Risks

Health experts unheard on health effects of Fukushima

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

U.S. media coverage of the nuclear disaster in Japan contains vanishingly little serious discussion of the human health risks posed by the radiation escaping from the Fukushima nuclear facility. In place of a discussion informed by experts on these risks, journalism largely conveys vague, industry-friendly reassurances, frequently including no sources with expertise on the health effects of radiation on humans. New York Times reporter William Broad reported (3/22/11) that “health experts” deemed a radiation plume that had reached the U.S. from Japan to be harmless: Health experts said that the plume’s radiation had been diluted enormously in its journey of […]

Jul
01
2011

Coverage of Radiation Risks 'Astonishingly Irresponsible'

Health expert Steve Wing critiques corporate media

“There will be cancers caused by the radiation that comes to this country from Japan,” University of North Carolina epidemiologist Steve Wing told Extra! in a May interview. Wing faulted news media for misinforming citizens about radiation risks: “What I’ve seen coming out for weeks were statements that there are no health concerns. That’s astonishingly irresponsible.” Wing is known for coauthoring a study on the health effects of the Three Mile Island (TMI) accident. In 1997, he and his colleagues (Environmental Health Perspectives, 1/1/97) analyzed data from a 1990 Columbia University study (American Journal of Epidemiology, 2/28/90) that found increased […]

May
27
2011

Bill McKibben on climate and extreme weather, Allison Kilkenny on protest movements

By

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: The deadliest tornado in decabes swept through Missouri, the latest example of what seem to be unusually volatile weather patterns around the world. But when it comes to discussing extreme weather, one thing media don't want to dwell on is climate change. Environmental activist and author Bill McKibben wrote in the Washington Post about the detached way in which our strange new weather is discussed. He'll join us to talk about it. Also on CounterSpin today, there are more protests against austerity politics around the country—and more media silence. It's hard not to conclude […]

May
01
2011

The Unrenewed Debate Over Renewable Energy

Little interest in safer, cleaner, even cheaper alternatives to nuclear power

When the March 11 earthquake and tsunami shut down cooling systems at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, U.S. government and nuclear industry spin control kicked in, asserting that a similar disaster couldn’t happen here, and that atomic power is here to stay. Corporate news outlets typically got caught up in this spin, relaying distorted and/or incomplete information about our energy options from a recycled cohort of pro-nuclear sources. An option hardly mentioned: renewable energy, such as wind, solar and geothermal power.* The topic of energy efficiency and conservation—sure-fire ways to reduce demand for energy in the first place—didn’t even surface. […]

Mar
18
2011

Arjun Makhijani on Japan's nuclear crisis, Cindy Folkers on radiation & health

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Ever notice how corporate media coverage of nuclear accidents largely avoids industry critics, in favor of industry defenders generally low-balling the health and safety dangers of the technology? That's never been truer than in coverage of the Japanese nuclear disaster, which, as with earlier accidents, the initial, rosy predictions by media-favored experts have clearly been overtaken by dire facts. We'll talk to Dr. Arjun Makhijani, an industry critic, nuclear engineer, and the president of Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. Also on CounterSpin today, the disaster in Japan is generating substantial coverage of the […]

Feb
01
2011

It's the Politics, Stupid

Ask not what elections will do for climate change

Of all the issues at stake in the midterm congressional elections of 2010, the one that hung most in the balance may have been the fate of the world’s climate. It was clear from early in the election cycle that incoming Republicans were uniformly in agreement that no government action to control carbon emissions was desirable, or indeed necessary: Of Republican Senate candidates, “19 of the 20 who have taken a position say that global climate change is unproven or actually a hoax,” the National Journal’s Ron Brownstein said on ABC’s This Week (9/26/10). Several prominent GOP leaders had gone […]

Feb
01
2011

The Planet Keeps Warming, But U.S. Media Interest Cools

Climate summit(s) in Cancún

After the anticlimax of the COP-15 climate-policy negotiations in Copenhagen last year (Extra!, 2/10)—in which the more than 190 UN-member nations walked away with a non-binding statement of intent cobbled together in secret by the U.S. and a few other wealthy nations—public and press expectations for this year’s COP-16 meeting (11/29-12/10/10) in Cancún, Mexico, were low. At least in part reflecting this pessimism, there has been a “steep slide” in climate reporting this year, Columbia Journalism Review’s science blog (Observatory, 11/24/10) noted. Few major corporate news media outlets even planned to send reporters to Cancún; as Washington Post lead environmental […]

Feb
01
2011

Scientific American Waffles on the Science of Global Warming

Is climate ‘THE issue of our time’ or a ‘doomsday obsession’?

“Climate is the issue of our time,” says Scientific American editor-in-chief Mariette DiChristina (Observations, 10/28/10). So why does her magazine keep treating human-caused global warming as an open question? DiChristina was responding to criticism her magazine had received (Climate Progress, 10/26/10; FAIR Blog, 10/27/10) over a November 2010 article by Michael Lemonick about Judith Curry, a climate scientist whose critiques of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are often cited by climate denialists. The article—subheaded “Why Can’t We Have a Civil Conversation About Climate?”—left the impression that the truth on climate change is somewhere in the middle: Climate scientists […]