The situation in Japan is a mess. A lot is being made of the nuclear reactors because the worst case scenarios make for big headlines and TV ratings. But how bad is the nuclear threat for people living there? Do those of us living on the west coast have anything to worry about?
Randall Munroe, author of the fantastic geek comic xkcd, has drawn up an infographic that helps give a rough idea of the types of radiation you can receive and how serious they are. For example, did you know that you receive radiation from eating a banana? Check out his blog post and accompanying graphic (click the image in his post for a full size view.) http://blog.xkcd.com/2011/03/19/radiation-chart/
The bottom line is that even if you were standing right next to these reactors, you’re probably not going to be severely affected. Furthermore, it seems likely that you wouldn’t be affected at all, but it’s possible that things could get much worse. Either way, before you hear another person arguing that this all proves we need to kill nuclear power once and for all, arm yourself with some facts.