Today, Greenpeace released a report putting the Chernobyl death toll above 90,000. However, as of September 2005, the UN Reported "less than 50" deaths as a direct result of the radiation, and their prediction for the total future number of deaths is is less than 4000. So why this difference of opinion? Spin.
What’s even more interesting is Michael Crichton’s evaluation of the situation, in his 2005 speech Environmentalism as Religion:
With so many past failures, you might think that environmental predictions would become more cautious. But not if it’s a religion. Remember, the nut on the sidewalk carrying the placard that predicts the end of the world doesn’t quit when the world doesn’t end on the day he expects. He just changes his placard, sets a new doomsday date, and goes back to walking the streets. One of the defining features of religion is that your beliefs are not troubled by facts, because they have nothing to do with facts….
First, we need an environmental movement, and such a movement is not very effective if it is conducted as a religion. We know from history that religions tend to kill people, and environmentalism has already killed somewhere between 10-30 million people since the 1970s. It’s not a good record. Environmentalism needs to be absolutely based in objective and verifiable science, it needs to be rational, and it needs to be flexible. And it needs to be apolitical.
This is why Newt Gingrich and others have long been calling for "scientific environmentalism" – that is, environmentalism based on and prioritized by fact, not emotionalism.
Scientific environmentalism offers a great opportunity for a healthier environment through technology and entrepreneurship. Republicans now have an opportunity to act for the environment through an alternative to the dominant regulation-litigation, bureaucratic model. Sound science, increased research budgets, and better technologies will produce better environmental policy. – Newt Gingrich in the WSJ, Dec 2002.