The triumph of coal marketing
Do you have an opinion about nuclear power? About the relative safety of one form of power over another? How did you come to this opinion?
Here are the stats, and here's the image. A non-exaggerated but simple version of his data:
For every person killed by nuclear power generation, 4,000 die due to coal, adjusted for the same amount of power produced… You might very well have excellent reasons to argue for one form over another. Not the point of this post. The question is: did you know about this chart? How does it resonate with you?
Vivid is not the same as true. It's far easier to amplify sudden and horrible outcomes than it is to talk about the slow, grinding reality of day to day strife. That's just human nature. Not included in this chart are deaths due to global political instability involving oil fields, deaths from coastal flooding and deaths due to environmental impacts yet unmeasured, all of which skew it even more if you think about it.
This chart unsettles a lot of people, because there must be something wrong with it. Further proof of how easy it is to fear the unknown and accept what we've got.
I think that any time reality doesn't match your expectations, it means that marketing was involved. Perhaps it was advertising, or perhaps deliberate story telling by an industry. Or perhaps it was just the stories we tell one another in our daily lives. It's sort of amazing, even to me, how much marketing colors the way we see the world–our reaction (either way) to this chart is proof of it.