The Fukushima Daichi story, one that portends a disaster (whether or not it is classified as a disaster is not in question, but rather stories about ‘worst’ and ‘growing’ fears of a more dramatic meltdown event), has far eclipsed the incredible human toll of the Japanese Tsunami.

Earthquake and Tsunami damage-Dai Ichi Power Plant, Japan

Earthquake and Tsunami damage-Dai Ichi Power Plant, Japan

If you watched the news for only a few days from the date of the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, this won’t come as any surprise. Yes, there have been wrenching human interest stories and profiles of those left behind when the waters receded, but it seems the boogeyman atom always takes top billing.

I’m not apologizing for nuclear power. It’s a complicated issue and not in the scope of this quick post. What is truly fascinating, however, is the public’s presumptive appetite for coverage of nuclear events. Is it an artefact of the Cold War? Is it the invisibility of radiation? Or the inaccessibility of nuclear science? Or is the media simply keeping their eye on the ball, the next story? (Granted, a big one.)

There will certainly be a human toll from the ongoing Fukushima events. But the toll from the unbelievability devastating tsunami bears repeating. As of today:

  • 14,416 deaths
  • 5,314 injured
  • 11,889 people missing

The perennially excellent Project for Excellence in Journalism tells the story with this graph:

Source: Project for Excellence in Journalism