Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Paranoid place

Forgive my absence, but I simply could not bring myself to write light-hearted blog posts with everything that’s going on in the world.

Not much has happened. While I’ve been gone the world has shown living proof of being a paranoid place: While salt has sold out in China, iodine tablets have sold out in Sweden. Yeah, you heard me right. On the other side of the world. Far from Japan. People. Buy. Iodine tablets. To protect themselves from the radiation.

I don’t know if I should laugh or cry about it all.

The sold-out-salt in China is another story. There are mixed views on WHY Chinese people all of a sudden are stocking up on this must have, taste enhancing and iodine containing mineral:

* Some say it’s because people are scared that food supplies are going to run out, and then the most important thing to have in the kitchen (as a Chinese family) is apparently salt (funny, I always thought it would be oil!).

* Some say it’s because salt contains iodine (iodine tablets have, just like in Sweden, sold out in China) and people believe it will protect them from radiation. Just the other day I read that one would have to eat three kilos of salt before the iodine would have any kind of effect. Three kilos?! Now, if that won’t kill you I don’t know what will.

* Some say it’s because people are scared that the sea surrounding Japan will soon be filled with radiation, and therefore, newly produced salt will also contain radiation. So better stock up on the radiation free stuff before it’s all gone.

I find it kind of ironic that people are so scared of radiation, both here and back home. Swedes are some of the world’s biggest sun bakers. No one thinks about radiation then?

And then there are Chinese people, being so scared of radiation –meanwhile the general concern towards health issues like pollution, is kind of mixed. I recently read an article about young Chinese girls in Beijing buying their dream cars (cute little things in the colours of pink or red) and being asked by a reporter if they ever think it’s a problem that so many people drive cars in Beijing when the air is already so polluted:

-Naah… well… I need my car. So I don’t really care. Others can stop if they like.

When asked if they could ever buy a second hand car:

-Never. It has to be the newest, latest thing.

But of course. Radiation is scary. I’m scared too. Unfortunately I didn’t react quick enough to get my hands on any iodine tablets. As for salt, I have a habit of not adding it to my food –and ironically, the salt that we have at home is iodine free anyway, so no luck there. I suppose, that when radiation hits us, I will just have to lock myself up inside and tremble of fear. At least all the Swedes on the other side of the world, eating iodine tablets, are safe.


flyingfish said...

I think one reason people are buying salt and iodine is so that they can feel some sense of control. Since the underlying truth (i.e., really, really scary stuff happens and most of the time there is very little we can do about it) is awfully hard to accept, people invent ways to feel as though they have the power to make themselves safe. Duct tape. Iodine. Gas masks. Whatever. Seems to me it's kind of a ritualization of anxiety, just as the business of funerals is a ritualization of grief -- gives the mourners something specific to do as they begin to confront their loss.

Of course it's irrational -- I'm not saying it's not -- but I think its also very human.

Jonna Wibelius said...

Flyingfish -you are right, of course, it's still a bit worrying to see how scared people are. It seems the better our lives are, the more scared we get.

TG said...

Jona! I checked online, Fukushima and Shanghai are 1880km apart, while Chernobyl and Stockholm are 1179km apart! The radiation in 1986 was so much stronger, it's impossible that the same can happen in Japan, all scientists say that. So you don't need any pills, you don't need iodine. I assume you were born before 1986, then you were already thoroughly radiated. I was and I'm fine. This is nothing for the region, it's only a big problem for people of Fukushima and the surrounding area. So please don't be scared. I'm in Taipei, 2200km away from Fukushima and I don't panic at all. I do feel bad for the people there, but the rest of us won't be affected, I'm sure. If I was in China, I would have so many other things to worry about before I even think of radiation from Japan.

조안나 said...

There's been a little of that in Korea, but people are incredibly calm about it overall. And I have definitely not heard of people stocking up on salt here. But, it's interesting anyway... I wonder where our salt over here comes from anyway???

黃愛玲 said...

"It seems the better our lives are, the more scared we get."


Mackan said...

Hörde det mest korkaste idag i skolan att radioaktiviteten hade nått Sverige. När jag svarade med "Nä, klart det inte har. Tänk på avståndet." så insisterade de ändå.

Går på gymnasieskola och vissa hjärnor är väl inte de skarpaste. ;)

Tarja said...

It´s the same in Finland, iodine tablets are sold out ;) Happy to hear finns aren´t the only silly ones reacting this way...

Telemachus said...

The attitude of the pink car buyer in Beijing is an unfortunate example of the "tragedy of the commons", where a common resource, in this case clean air, gets depleted because everyone acts in their immediate best interest. Come to think of it, the potassium iodide run in Sweden and the salt run in China can also be looked on as examples...

Joyce Lau said...

Not that the response in Sweden isn't a little silly, but at least iodine tablets might have an effect. Medical teams are handing them out in Japan. And there are nuclear plants all over the world.

But salt really is ridiculous. A 5-minute Google search would have taught these people that you'd have to eat KILOS of salt a day to get the iodine of one tablet. And that might salt can kill you.

Plus, when iodized salt ran out, people bought un-iodized salt. And then soy sauce. Hmmm.

But, God forbid, if there's a nuclear meltdown next to you, nothing in your kitchen cabinet is going to save you.

Anonymous said...

In future, we'll have a galore of people over dosing from sodium overload in the system :-P

Anonymous said...

The truth is:

we get more radiation in our system when we regularly take plane trips, use the mobile on our ears 5x times a day and the air we breathe let out from industrial chimmneys and cars is a potential toxic mix for cancer and other unpleasant illnesses. So what's really the point of taking salt in the first place?