Which one is the best known? In the west, I'd say Fukushima. And yet, the nuclear disaster caused zero direct fatalities. The consequences, the evacuation in particular, killed maybe a few hundreds. That's definitely not insignificant, but to think that it overshadowed an earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 15000...
Media is controlled (either directly or due to false sense of patriotism) or biased. Probably both.
Not that military prowess should necessarily be the metric of civilisation, but Japan was/is a damned impressive culture by that metric, as well as many others.
is holding Japan in a great light
but also looking down on it
as though Europe is in a position to confer honor
a Western point of view
It is then up to any japanese / non-western readers whether they give a shit about the honour conferred by some westerners.
Honour (like most things) is subjective and varies from culture to culture. Perhaps the day a universal register of honour is established you can post your comment again when some westerner applies to give honour to the japanese again.
>[that is] a Western point of view
People in the west like to think that.
After one has lived for a while in an Asian, African, Latin American etc country, they get to see that billions of people, the 80% of the global population, could and don't give a fuck about the going's on in the west -- except when they're forced to deal with it (e.g. militarily).
E.g. the Chinese might care for selling to US/Europe -- but that doesn't mean they also care for our beliefs, history, philosophy, moral outrages, outlook on life, charts, stars, concerns, or any other such thing that we take as some kind of "physical law".
Even so, Mexico is next to the states and has some millions of US immigrants and wannabe immigrants, and still -- they have their own culture, morals, etc, and the typical western concerns are not their thing.
So, I was talking more about the cultural and societal aspects. They'll still watch some popular Hollywood movie or have teenagers listening to Cardie B, but they live in their own, different, world, as oblivious to the West as a Oklahoman farmer or a NY gallery owner is oblivious to them and their world.
Geopolitically it just refers to US/Canada and Europe (and perhaps Japan).
Mexico and Columbia belong to the Latin American world -- which has diversity within it, of course, but Europe for one, also has.
It's a quite old distinction that's used all the time.
See how Wikipedia maps the "Western world":
"(...) what is known today as described by the term "The West": United States of America and Canada, European Union and European Free Trade Association member states, Israel, Australia and New Zealand"
"The term "Western world" is sometimes interchangeably used with the term First World or developed countries, stressing the difference between First World and the Third World or developing countries." (which also doesn't include Mexico and Columbia)
All I can collect from your comment is that what defines West is capitalist economy (which is not a bad thing per se) and a vague self referential form of identity that blends money and religion.
UK voted to leave EU et al, and even though they wont really be leaving in a literal sense of the word, does their having preferred to leave not make them also leave the "state of mind" you mention? Is the UK thus less "Western" now?
Well, we've mentioned Economy, religion, culture -- what else do you think should have been included and is missing?
It's like saying all that defines a chair is shape, size and its use (for sitting).
Antinuclear groups to this very day are blaming decreased fertility rates on Three Mile Island from 1979. The story has comical staying power as is.
But what I'm saying is that one of the issues in public perception of nuclear energy is that events are extremely rare, so when they do happen, they are huge stories in the media that everyone cares about. Even if something small happens at a nuclear plant, there's a media frenzy about it because of the nature of people's understanding of radiation. He says, mostly jokingly, that if accidents at nuclear plants were as common as they are during other industrial activities, maybe people would get used to the incidents and not worry about them as much.
Very few people understand the nuance of background radiation, sensitivity of detectors, dose units, danger as a function of dose, linear no-threshold, etc.
It occurred in 1975, but information didn't start to emerge until the 1990s, and is still pretty spotty, though you'll see mention in compendia of power-related technologies and risk, such as the IPCC's assessment.
Wikipedia remains amongst the most accessible sources, though there are now published accounts. I only discovered the disaster myself a few years ago; it remains the single most fascinating disaster, with many lessons directly applicable to nuclear power risks from engineering, management, government, preparedness, risk forecasting, response, and lessons learnt (or not). All human factors, poorly amenable to technical solutions.
Hydro dams fall under renewable power, not under nuclear power.
> engineering, management, government, preparedness, risk forecasting, response
Only about 26,000 people died of the immediate flooding itself. Over 150,000, six times as many, died from disease or starvation. All of those deaths could have been avoided, even with total dam failure, given land-use planning, warnings, diversion dikes, and refuge shelters elevated only modestly from the floodplain, plus an immediate R&R andaid mission.
Virtually all the failures had nothing to do with the underlying power conversion process itself. All are intrinsic to any large, complex, institutional engineering project. None can simply be engineered away: they require continual human process management. All are equally intrinsic to nuclear power operations.
Most significantly, the risk book on Banqiao has been closed, and was within a few weeks or months, at most, from the isaster. There is no residual disaster risk. Unlike Hartford, or Chernobyl, or Fukushima, or other nuclear disaster sites, there is no multi-century exclusion zone with a glowing heap of deadly slag at its centre. None of these sites have final management plans in place, in cases decades on.
Banqiao is now home to tens of millions of inhabitants, and a few memories of what went wrong.
Proponents of nuclear power assume that we can assess risks with tails not of the decade or so of Banqiao, but of 100, 1,000, 1 million years. Utterly outside the scope of any human institutions, or of the human species itself.
Our models of risks and of costs fail us....
The problems with nuclear power are massive, long-tailed, systemic and potentially existential. The same cannot be said of a wind farm or solar array. There is no significant 10,000 year threat from wind power, or solar power. We're not risking 30 - 60 km exclusion zones, on an unplanned basis, of which we've created at least four in the half-decade of significant nuclear energy applications: Hanford, Washington, Three Mile Island, Pennsyvania, Chernobyl, Ukraine, and Fukushima, Japan. And this is with a global plant of some 450 operating nuclear power plants as of 2017....
If the total experience has been, say, 500 reactors, over 50 years, or 25,000 reactor-years of experience, and we've experienced at least four major disasters, then our failure rate is 0.016%.
The global share of nuclear power generation in 2012 was about 10%. Which means that without allowing for increased electrical consumption within existing or extending to developing nations, the plant count would have to increase tenfold.
Holding the reactor-year failure rate constant would mean 80 core meltdowns per century. Reducing that to the present rate of four meltdowns/century would require reducing the failure rate to 0.0008%. That's five nines, if anyone's counting.
Five nines on a process involving weather, politics, business, social upheaval, terrorism, sabotage, individual psychology, group psychology, climate, communications, response, preparedness....
Most so-called "journalism" is in fact a rush to capture as many eyeballs as possible for the purpose of displaying advertising. These patterns make a lot more sense once viewed through the adtech lens: news outlets aren't publishers or providers of information; they're sellers of an audience to advertisers. This is their primary mission, fueled in turn by the desire to self-perpetuate.
Most people can see this effect more clearly on the state-run news outside their own country.
Afghanistan is considered more of a war zone and a home for extremists.
Paris is considered more of a vacation destination and the city of love.
The uncomfortable truth is most people ignore the deaths of homeless people, migrants, poor and anyone in far-off lands because they lack familiarity, propinquity and/or similarity to get invested in. It takes an extreme example for people to care: young girl shot in the head by the Taliban and survives.
Galtung, J.; Holmboe Ruge, M. (1965). "The Structure of Foreign News. The Presentation of the Congo, Cuba and Cyprus Crises in Four Norwegian Newspapers"
which is also summarized at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/News_values
To me, it appears that the modern epidemic of equating live TV coverage where reporters blabber inconsequrentialities with an event being in the news is the cause for the feeling that the article espouses. Doesn't a 60 second mention about an event suffice? The larger point is, how does this 'coverage' really help the cause? Surely, reporting a disaster, with brief visuals, will alert the volunteers to do their bit for humanity, but showing private human emotions for days and days is something I never understood. It can't be anything but politically motivated propaganda. It also smacks of commodification of victims for a sort of depraved entertainment value. I often feel that a disaster that suits a tv station's agenda is a relief to them because they don't have to worry about programming and can simply milk it till they get bored.
One could argue, correctly, that when an event is reported only briefly on tv it doesn't remain in people's memory. This is where I favor newspapers to tv news. Although there is still a bias here too - an event being reported on front page, with pics etc, or in the fifth page column 2, or nowhere at all - it is relatively indelible. The cliched Hollywood character that pins newspaper clippings to remember an event sort of corroborates what I am saying.
That said, I must say that I am not a fan of all these award winning gut wrenching pictures of human tragedies because I refuse to believe that the photographer is not manipulating. News via visual media is always less trustworthy to me than news via written word. Atleast with the latter, we can sense the tone, inclinations, sophistry etc which is extremely hard with visual medium. For instance, every documentary looks manipulative to me, so I never value news disseminated via visual medium, except for some events like Hindenberg disaster, Tsunamis etc which can't be described in words.
A terrorist attack in a third world will not get the same attention as a tsunami or mudslide(because the later occur less often) and much less than a new disease that kills a dozen people. There is a subconscious risk-estimating going on "is disaster X relevant/close/threat to me", but the novelty of new information is the key for news coverage and subsequent interest.
An easy way to increase novelty is to add something unique:
instead of 20 people died in X, add their names and their occupations, how they died, in-depth material/interviews - all things that increase engagement and empathy.
A simple news broadcast that searches for scoops and immediate facts is quite dry and non-appealing, like a weather report for most people. People better absorb news in format of something similar to opinion piece/entertainment, regardless of its accuracy/neutrality.
All coverage is building engagement. People relate to the event from more angles. Emotional connections form, sympathy and sense of relatedness. To some it might be a soap opera, but it also relieves their personal fears and problems - in a sort of twisted escapism, like watching disaster movies or horror films.
Self > Family > Neighbor > City > State > Country > Region
... also in a different direction, race, gender, economic status, shared culture, etc.
Something along the lines of "how much the victim reminds me of myself". In other words the trolley dilemma.
In some senses it might be morally objectionable to value some people more than other people, but in other senses it makes sense. Do you care exactly as much about your child as you do about the other 2 billion children in the world? Would you forgo feeding your child in order to feed someone else's? Of course not. It is a difficult subject.
You could even hand out free access to NGOs and have a super-nice landing page with a world map with circles in different colors and sizes to get an overview of what's going on.
Finally, I think I would love it, too, though I am not sure whether I'd pay for it. Also, expect to be censored, so China is probably not a market.
If you manage to do it, I think it's a valid business model.
Also, it'd be a great counter to biased media and, thereby, a service to the world.
"A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic."
"Kill one man, and you are a murderer. Kill millions of men, and you are a conqueror. Kill them all, and you are a God" -Jean Rostand (and Megadeth :))
General hunger is familiar to everyone, even though dying of it now should be immoral to allow to happen. But being killed by a volcano is new and scary.
Hence the data they observe.
Or about poor software design: "Concrete thinking is natural, so it's not surprising the engineers didn't think through possible surprising codepaths".
Journalism aspires to be, at its best, a profession whose associated skills, standards, and ethics exist precisely to countermand the kinds of 'unsurprising' traits you mention. As with reducing bias, application of rational news values is never going to be perfect. But like other skills, it can be improved.
But we deal with every day risks pragmatically all the time (look both ways before you cross the road!). Enormous resources are put into solving/managing these risks (airbags, speed cameras, police, regulations and so on).
Of course shark attacks are more frightening than drowning. Drowning is the thing I'm actively preventing, I have a good understanding of how it might happen and how I will avoid it. The shark is scary because of its unavoidable and arbitrary nature!
I don't agree with this binary view of the world, but that's how it is. As a European.
That would be different for people around the world according to their country and region.
It is gut wrenchingly sad that every death is not treated equaly ... though much in the same way, every life.
EDIT: This makes me think that part of what makes news newsworthy is describing something in a way that provokes the readers to put themselves in the story. In this case it's terrifying to consider being in the shoes of that woman. Also, per GuB-42's comment, I think on average people fear nuclear fallout more than an earthquake or a tsunami, considering that most of us have experience with none of those scenarios.
Also, if it concerns developing world deaths, regardless of their number, are they in an area where US/Europeans have strategic interests, and can they exploit them to further them?
How many people die in the Middle East from a terrorist before it makes news? Same goes for a shooting in USA.
How many get shot before it makes national headlines.
News is not about reporting what happens, it's about reporting what's relevant - the events that can or will influence us in some way, so whether something is newsworthy depends on the audience. A limited conflict that affects the gas price is more relevant to local readers than a deadly conflict with little international influence.
But I agree, better to release something that isn't perfect but saves lives. (we hope)
The op says for this specific chart 'Note: This data is controlled for several factors, including the number killed and affected, country, year, month, and type of disaster.'. There are no famines in Europe (ok maybe depending on definitions and time period, there were some in the 60's and 70's in former communist countries?), which make the largest number of casualties by far. So how is it 'controlled for' by disaster type? When you look at 'data' for that chart, it doesn't even mention 'disaster type' under 'controlled for'! So what is it?
Furthermore, this chart suggests that every disaster in Europe with at least 1 casualty is reported on. That seems, let's say, rather unlikely. So is this data normalized with Europe as the base? (I'll admit that I only skimmed the actual paper). But that would be weird - what is the point of this graph? What could it show, and what does it show?
Look I'm not saying these people (i.e., the authors of the original paper) deliberately misrepresented anything, or that they set out to prove a point. It just looks more like a 'hey we have a cool idea for what we can do with data, let's make regression models, it'll be fun (and probably at least somewhat informative to others as well)' than some fundamental inquiry into the morality of news reporting. And that's fine - much (dare I say most) published papers have 'only' that level of depth; I've done it myself. But my problem is the big jump from numerical relations between some 'data' and broader conclusions (not by the authors, usually, but by people reporting on it, like the OP).
In this case, the numbers support the intuitions most people would have. I'm not even doubting the results, or the overall trend or bias. What I'm wondering is to what extent we can claim that this sort of analysis actually 'proves' those intuitions. Are so-so analyses, and hand-wavy generalizations made from them, better than having none at all? I used to think 'math is factual and any data that is not completely bogus is better than none at all', but nowadays, I'm not so sure any more.