This 12 minute video of Fukushima prefecture farmers at a meeting with Ministry officials. It's really grim watching. Farmers are bringing very reasonable concerns about contaminated land, contaminated food, the precarious existence of those who want to evacuate but can't. The Ministry officials are sincere, within their capabilities, and are troubled by the plight of the farmers, but there is a total failure in communication. The farmers believe their food and land is contaminated, the Ministry sees fears of radiation being the product of "terrible rumours".
The farmers will walk away from the meeting frustrated, angry and feeling that they have not been listened to. It's the Ministry's job to listen and respond to what they hear, not just the words but the feelings. They don't don't know this and I assume they don't know how to do this. Telling a farmer that people in the Ministry buy rice from Fukushima does nothing to make a farmer who believes he is selling contaminated rice think that the rice is now safe
Peter Sandman, a pioneer of a risk communication emphasises that where the public doesn't understand the risk, educating the public is useful. In contrast, where there is public outrage, public education of risk is not enough, the outrage itself must be dealt with.
Looking down Sandman's twelve point list of factors that contibute to outrage, it's hard to see any kind of resolution to the situation in Fukushima short of making it financially possible for anyone who wants to evacuate to do including giving people the means to re-establish livelihoods. The situation on the left hand side reduces outrage; the situation on the right exacerbates it.
- Voluntary vs. coerced
- Natural vs. industrial
- Familiar vs. not familiar
- Not memorable vs. memorable
- 5-12 to come tomorrow.