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Radiation.
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cyberpainter
cyberpainter
5205 posts

Radiation.

(Thanks again to vega.)

More catastrophic than I imagined, and put into layman's terms.



Apr 23, 2011, 21:40


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wracket
wracket
1296 posts

Re: Radiation.

While reserving the option of not coming down definitively on one side of the "safety of nuclear power" issue or the other, it does bear pointing out that Helen Caldicott has a bit of a dubious reputation when it comes to supporting her claims. Here's a pretty good example as described by The Guardian's George Monbiot, with whom Dr. Caldicott had a televised debate recently:

http://www.monbiot.com/2011/04/04/interrogation-of-helen-caldicotts-responses/#more-1592

http://www.monbiot.com/2011/04/13/why-this-matters/

(There's a lot more on their correspondence to be found there, if you're interested.)

Having said that, this Fukushima situation is probably worse than the Japanese authorities would have us (and the Japanese public) believe. As the international media seems to have lost interest to some degree (undoubtedly because its audience has moved onto a fresher, sexier topic), perhaps it's unfair to focus on Caldicott's rather hyperbolic delivery since she does raise some good points about the distinction between external and internal radiation which is often glossed over by the reports I've seen about the risks from Japan.

But as important as it is to keep the public aware of such dangers, it's surely equally (if not more) important to be able to back up your claims with some form of accepted and citable scientific research. So far, from what I've read and heard from Caldicott, she has too often contented herself with explanations along the lines of "trust me, I'm a doctor" or "trust me, I've spoken to a lot of people and they all agree with me here" for my liking. It doesn't mean that she's wrong it what she's saying, only that she doesn't do a particularly convincing job of proving her point when one digs a bit beyond the sound bites.

Apr 24, 2011, 00:41


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Harold Bissonette
Harold Bissonette
1737 posts

Re: Radiation.

Scary, although I do think she's being very pessimistic and alarmist: "Don't eat European food"! - not sure what us Europeans are meant to eat. I think I'd be pretty concerned if I was in Japan at the moment, but life goes on.

I'm certainly anti-nuclear power (and nuclear arms) and always have been.

Apr 24, 2011, 09:22


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cyberpainter
cyberpainter
5205 posts

Re: Radiation.

Interesting. I will read further, but I found Monbiot's responses to be pretty weak. He himself used quotes from a single person for many of his refutes of her claims, and sometimes took issue with a particular phrasing which was not the main point. I'm not convinced that a journalist can really respond with greater weight than a scientist on these issues.

His claim that somehow some of the radioactivity decays at a rate to make it safe over a shorter period of time seems ridiculous, considering the number of different types included in the contamination. Some have decay rates that are way longer than a human lifetime. In being a good journalist, it's good for him to examine her claims carefully, but I think he may have more of a driving motivation that seems to reveal itself in his equally vague refutes.

Apr 24, 2011, 09:24


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cyberpainter
cyberpainter
5205 posts

Re: Radiation.

Harold Bissonette wrote:
Scary, although I do think she's being very pessimistic and alarmist: "Don't eat European food"! - not sure what us Europeans are meant to eat. I think I'd be pretty concerned if I was in Japan at the moment, but life goes on.

I'm certainly anti-nuclear power (and nuclear arms) and always have been.


I agree that she seemed overly alarmist in saying don't eat European food. However, if you had a choice of eating produce from a country that was included in the circle of fallout from Chernobyl, and something grown elsewhere, why would you choose it? She was speaking from Canada.

You do have radiation in your food. It's probably all around us, including America. Chemicals like plastics are everywhere too and in all our bodies. It's a matter of degree and hopefully some reasonable scientific opinion as to how harmful or safe it may be. If you live in Turkey and have to eat the food there, it's just life, you don't have a choice. But it's sad that us humans are a living experiment of how much or little harm our nuclear and chemical stupidity will cause.

Apr 24, 2011, 09:31


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cyberpainter
cyberpainter
5205 posts

Re: Radiation.

I wish I had more time to go into this, because I think it's really important. But I will see if I can find what I've heard on public radio as a refute to what he's written, especially his downplaying the possibility of countries moving away from nuclear power to something renewable, which may be more feasible than he purports.

Apr 24, 2011, 09:42


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cyberpainter
cyberpainter
5205 posts

Re: Radiation.

I was referring to the first link when I wrote this.

Apr 24, 2011, 09:48


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microbehunter
microbehunter
608 posts

Re: Radiation.

The sheer scale of the problem when accident's happen at nuclear plants I find scarey. The Japanese plant is so badly damaged it will be scrapped once they find a way to dismantle the reactors. In the meantime hydrogen explosions, high levels of radiation, thousands of liters of contaminated water dumped into the sea. The fuel has to be disposed, buildings demolished and nearby land and water cleaned up. Some of these nuclear plant's take years to shut down properly.

Apr 24, 2011, 09:57


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wracket
wracket
1296 posts

Re: Radiation.

Monbiot was a champion of the Greens' anti-nuclear campaign for ages before the faux-science often employed by the anti-nukes (the same kind of faux-science that the environmentalists themselves rightfully called out as being shamefully employed by those who would deny global warming) forced him to reevaluate his position.

As for his using a single source or not being qualified as a journalist to debate with a "scientist" (she's probably better described a medical doctor-turned-activist than a researcher, but I'll give her the benefit of the doubt here), I'm afraid I don't agree. He allowed various individuals from the fields in question to answer for him when it came to the correspondence re: Caldicott's (lack of) citation for her claims--that's hardly the same thing as relying on an individual. When requested, he (and his sources) seem to be able to back up their point of view with established, peer-reviewed research. Hardly the same can be said for Caldicott--even her own book (apparently) doesn't provide citation for her claims.

Obviously the links I included only give one small snap-shot of the whole debate, but I think you'll find that Monbiot never claims to himself have the credentials--what he does do is read the full reports from the international agencies in question and call out what he believes to be misinformation on the part of Caldicott and those like her.

Apr 24, 2011, 09:57


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cyberpainter
cyberpainter
5205 posts

Re: Radiation.

Another article by HC, refuting Monbiot. Might as well give this one equal time...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/apr/11/nuclear-apologists-radiation

Apr 24, 2011, 09:59

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