Mercury poisoning via eating toxic fish, global warming, an expansion in sub-prime lending; all of these kill slowly until they get to a critical point and then everything goes to hell quickly. People say that we're evolutionarily not attuned to long-term problems, e.g. the benefits of eating outweigh the risks of eating toxic fish. So, we eat the poisoned poisson.
However, when a small nuclear accident occurs, everyone goes, well, nuclear. Despite it looking like a kills-slowly problem with a critical point, people seem to make an exception for nuclear accidents.
Why is that, and could that process be hijacked into helping motivate people to fight the other slow-killers?