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32 Comments

  1. Ah gee, I was going to link to that the next time EL put his foot in his mouth (or changed feet as the case may be.)

  2. I think this is unrealistic – I don’t think anti-nuclear activists in the real world would be turned around anything like as easily as this. These are the kind of people who use “technofix” as a pejorative…

  3. Don’t worry, Rod. What is mine is yours. Plus, I think a few links from Atomic Insights is worth far more than some traffic anyway.

  4. (Apologies if this is a repost. Can’t remember if I clicked ‘post’ before closing the window)
    The pauses are brilliant. You can almost hear the rusty cogwheels starting to turn.
    I think this demonstrates the best weapon against nuclear activists – the ones who will actually listen and think (as rare as they are) can be brought to realise they they are, in fact, unwitting shills for the very people they are fighting against.

  5. I love it this is an excellent example of how advocates for two sides of an issue are driven to extremes in their positions and weaken their chances for agreement because they are attached to self-reinforcing views and straw man arguments about their opponents: anti to environmental claims and pro to oil and natural gas conspiracy. The arguments neatly line up with each other and seem heavily over-determined and scripted (I can repeat them for you in advance, if you want, and I’m sure you can too). And they have little to do with substantive concerns about energy opportunities and trade-offs, but with politics, in-group dynamics, social anxiety and fear, and perhaps even some displaced anger management issues (all social in their origin, not a rational discourse on the merits). Let’s look at the two sides more closely in the video:
    Nearly every single argument is an extreme case:
    Environmentalist (this is a straw man used by nearly every industry group: forestry, natural gas, hydro, nuclear, coal, big autos, mining, on and on witness the vitriol heaped on “greenpeace” on this site):
    – Nuclear: “poisons us and destroys the world.”
    – Nuclear power plants “will kill everyone.”
    – Nuclear is corporate conspiracy that poisons people for profit.
    – Environmentalists is not a family person: and cannot understand the concerns of everyday people, and is hungry for sympathy.
    – Wind and solar will change everything.
    Technophile (I’m not sure what to call the straw man on the pro nuclear side, they seem to be arguing for infinite industrial opportunity, pure technological certainty and reliability, and a media bought and sold by the fossil fuel industry, and much more).
    – Anti-nuclear claims: sensationalist propaganda promoted to sell newspapers. “Radiation” and “nuclear” are scary words, loaded with fear, intended to vilify and sell papers.
    – Number of people in general public harmed by power plants since 60s: zero (notice qualifiers “general public” and “power plants” and “since the 60s”).
    – Technofile is a family person: and can understand the concerns of everyday people.
    – Nuclear waste: a popular phrase used by evil and deluded people. Waste is small and goes away in a few hundred years, so it is not a problem. False equivalency with lead and mercury (which are toxic “forever”).
    – Wind and solar only work 1/3 of the time. Wind does not blow and sun does not shine “the rest of the time.” So wind and solar are primarily a fossil fuel industry (and not a renewable energy industry).
    – Wind and solar power in the media: oil and gas interests fund TV advertising to distract the general public from the harm of fossil fuels.
    – Oil and gas interests funds environmental groups like Sierra Club, and others.
    – The proposition and how it is argued: nuclear is the only realistic alternative to fossil fuels. Fossil fuels poison us, destroy the world, and kill everyone. Hence nuclear is the only realistic alternative to poisoning us, destroying the world, or killing everyone.
    So what have we learned: nuclear and radiation does not kill everyone, the fossil fuel industry is behind everything (it even funds environmental groups), opponents have a tendency to use words (like “nuclear” and “radiation” and “waste”), the fossil fuel industry is driven by profits, lead and mercury are toxic forever, and nuclear is presumably the only energy that is reliable and can replace fossil fuels.
    So now we know what constitutes extreme views. How do you suppose we get out from prolific and widespread false equivalence and straw man type arguments, and start to have a “real” conversation. I could point out all of the places where the nuclear technophile is most clearly and definitely wrong but it seems like that gets us nowhere, and just repeats the same old narrative form and rhetorical arguments from the opposing side, a predictable screed that convinces no-one, and leaves both groups untouched in the self-reinforcing wilderness of their own illogical extremes.
    It’s a lovely example: full of hyperbole, false equivalence, straw men, ad hominem attacks, and conspiratorial thinking. I’m not sure I want to define an energy strategy for a country (such as the US) based on it?

    1. @EL – first of all, yes, the cartoon is full of hyperbole. Hyperbole is, after all, a pretty good literary device that has been used for centuries by storytellers around the world.
      Secondly, I honestly believe that Jack is not far off the mark here. I know it may be a terribly personal question, but just how many children do you have? Though people often hate to admit it, many prejudices start off with recognition of some interesting truths. My wife worked for a large environmental organization for about half a dozen years; a large number of the most virulent activists really were single and childless.
      For the record, I know Jack reasonably well. He is a true lover of the outdoors who worked as a fisherman before he became a nuke. He just happens to be an environmentalist who can do math and understands the weather in a fundamental way – like I do as a hiker and sailor.
      As a literature major, I learned that sometimes the only way to start a true conversation was to start off with some amount of exaggeration.

    2. Well, one hardly needs a “straw man” version of an environmentalist when EL here does a fine job representing the environmentalist stereotype: poorly informed, dogmatic, petty, belligerent, … the list goes on.
      “I could point out all of the places where the nuclear technophile is most clearly and definitely wrong …”
      Don’t let us stop you. Go ahead and knock yourself out.

    3. El,
      You caught me red handed, beleive it or not, those were actors, and weren’t REALLY an environmentalist and a nuclear worker.
      You’re welcome to refute the facts in the movie. Fossil fuel companies do finance renewable ad campaigns – fact. Fossil fuel companies do finance the Sierra Club – fact. I said ‘member of the public’ because this is also a fact that none of them have been hurt by a nuclear plant. I could have said ‘nobody’ but that wouldn’t have been true as there have been industrial accidents at nuclear plants, like any other facility, where employees have been hurt or even killed. The same could be said of wind turbines, which killed 41 workers in 2008 (considerably MORE fatalities that nuclear workers).
      You don’t seem to point out any specific information in the movie that is wrong, probably because it’s right and you can’t. I suppose it’s fair game to attack to MANNER in which the message was communicated. Of course, you could also recoginze the fact that this is scripted satire. Maybe Rod could explain satire better than I.

      1. It’s a fine video, some self-reflection and lots of conversation, I’m a fan! But the point of the video is about how we argue (to me at least), and not what we argue. This is the point I am raising. I left out of my long list of logical fallacies the seductive and very nimble “red herring” a sloppy fish that fools all but the most well trained hunting dogs.
        It appears to me that nearly all of the claims in the video are untrue (mostly, but not entirely so, as you point out):
        – The wind blows for 1/3 of the time (what does nameplate capacity have to do with the wind blowing).
        – The sun shines for 1/3 of the time (I will concede the sun shines less than 1/3 of the time at the north pole in winter, which is why nobody is seeking to permanently build solar power plants there).
        – Environmental NGOs are primarily funded by fossil fuel industry.
        – TV ads promoting wind and solar are primarily paid for by fossil fuel industry.
        – Nuclear waste will disappear in a few hundred years.
        – Zero people have been harmed or died from illness related to radiation and nuclear industry since the 1960s.
        – Nuclear is the only power source that is reliable and can replace fossil fuels.
        – Nuclear is destroying the world.
        – Nuclear is killing everyone.
        – Nuclear is killing people for a profit.
        – Environmentalists who are “poorly informed, dogmatic, petty and belligerent” don’t have families.
        – Wind and solar will change everything (“everything” please don’t tell me this is so).
        It’s a rhetorical piece, we agree (I’m a fan of rhetoric and of this video), but nearly everything in the video is an exaggeration, an emotional red herring, flows from faulty assumptions, conspiracy thinking, or is untrue so where do we go from here? I think it proves my points (the personal and illogical basis on which nuclear proponents make their case), you think it proves the opposite (the misguided and delusional claims of environmentalists, tree huggers, secularists, whatever else you want to call them in order to marginalize their view). Is this a template for changing people’s minds, or a recipe for failure?
        My own video would look something like this: I could see something a little funny and ironic (in a true satirical sense) if both parties stated their positions, in all of their grandiose and faulty uncertainties (full of furrowed brows, smirks, red cheeks, and eye rolling), and then they both sheepishly looked down at the ground, twiddled their thumbs, swayed side to side (since there was nowhere else to take the discussion), and just started talking about something else. A positive message would be a happy discussion about sports, family events, or some such thing. A negative message would be a coal fired power plant in the background continuing to belch out toxics in the form of skull and cross-bones (and special interest lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry floating as angels in the heavens counting their money and smoking their cigars). You guys have me convinced more and more that impassioned belief is a major impediment to rational understanding. But then again, I was never a particularly strong proponent of purely rational thought to begin with 🙂

        1. @EL – You apparently did not listen closely:
          The nuclear proponent said not one single member of the public has gotten sick, injured or killed because of a nuclear reactor. You would have a hard time proving that statement incorrect, since it specifically leaves out any illness or injury received by a worker in the industry.
          The nuclear proponent said that 96% of nuclear fuel was recyclable. Of the remaining four percent, most of the radiation has decayed within the first few hundred years. (In point of fact, that is actually grossly unfair to nuclear since the vast majority of the radiation in used fuel decays away in the first year and most of the rest goes away within the first decade.)
          The proponent was a little bit off with regard to the size of the waste left over from a full lifetime energy supply for a family of four. It is more like a handful than the tip of your pinkie.
          The nuclear proponent did not say that the nuclear waste will disappear in a few hundred years, he said that after a few hundred years the nuclear fuel is not much more radioactive than the uranium that was originally mined from the ground.
          Lead and mercury do remain toxic forever; that is what it means to be a stable, but toxic element that does not decay.
          He did not say that the wind only blows for 1/3 of the time or that the sun only shines 1/3 of the time. He said that wind and solar (in the context of talking about them as energy sources) only WORK 1/3 of the time. That is essentially true; though the reality is that they almost never work at the advertised capability. Sometimes, each of them are actually negative power producers due to the need to keep supplying them with a certain amount of power even when they are not being supplied with their “natural” energy flows.
          The fossil fuel industry may not be the only sources of TV advertising for wind and solar, but that industry does do a lot of advertising about their investments in alternatives. Of the companies that are really big in wind and solar – Vestas, Siemens, GE, Iberdrola, etc. – most of them are also bigger players in the fossil fuel energy establishment.
          Please, tell me one other source of non fossil energy that is reliable and can replace coal, oil or gas without the help of the established grid.

          1. There are rebuttals to each of these claims, and you already know them.
            I view myself in the same boat as you, we are both “hostile” to the status quo (i.e., the lowest common denominator of our energy system as being cheap energy and fossil fuels), but neither of us has come up with a convincing argument to educate people on the many benefits of doing things differently (and accepting change). I really don’t know how to do this. The facts don’t tell the full story (because there are always opposite facts or exceptions to any rule). And the compelling human interest also falls short too, because people have so many compelling human interests. And everybody is pressed by contingencies and is constrained by the serious challenge of making infinite ends meet limited means (for themselves). So I guess we simply have to “follow the money,” expose hypocrisy where we find it, and understand that the public interest needs all the help it can get (and that “divide and conquer” only works if people remain ignorant of the conditions that contribute to their long-lasting subjugation). Hummm now I’m sounding like a zealot.
            To give you a specific response to your question: “all of them.” Every non-fossil fuel generated power source contributes to minimizing our reliance on coal, gasoline, and natural gas. Do they do so at 100% replacement, or 60% replacement (it seems this is the extent of our argument). If this is how we continue to view the question, I don’t think we will ever be successful in mountaing a sufficient response to overcome the inertia of the status quo. “Business as usual” is just too compelling an interest to ask people to change for the benefit of the greater good.

            1. @EL – you would not get much of a grade in my reading comprehension class. I asked you – Which other source of non fossil fuel energy is reliable and can replace coal, oil or gas without the help of the established grid? I am not talking about some sort of reduction in demand; I am talking about REPLACEMENT for a particular customer or application. If the customer is an ocean shipper currently burning massive quantities of diesel fuel and wants to stop, tell him what his option is. If it is a country like Jamaica or Bermuda and wants to stop running diesel generators, what is the option? If it is a municipal utility and wants to replace the 50 year old, non compliant coal burners, what is the option?
              NOTHING other than fission can do the job without burning fossil fuels.

              1. It’s not that this clown doesn’t comprehend Rod, as much as that he won’t. He has a set of dearly held beliefs that he has held for years, that are crumbling around him, and he is now desperately throwing up smoke, in an attempt to protect them from his own dawning realization that they are wrong.

              2. El,
                I’m still not seeing anything countering the information in the video.
                You say everything is wrong and then follow it with philosophical rhetoric and ‘can’t we all get along.’ That’s nice and all, but you’re not actually saying anything, and it’s taking you 500 words.

                1. You guys need a lot of hand holding:
                  Things that are true (that your video gets wrong):
                  – Wind blows 100% of the time. Wind turbines produce some 30-40% of nameplate capacity on a yearly average. This does not mean “they don’t work” 60% of the time, and it does not mean they are producing carbon emissions for 60% of their operating life.
                  – The sun shines for 100% of the time (and the earth rotates). Facts are funny this way, aren’t they? As with wind, the same applies to solar availability, siting conditions, and energy yields from PV and solar thermal. Solar thermal even has it’s own storage source, and is a fine source of baseload power.
                  – Donor records for Greenpeace, Sierra Club, Audubon, WWF, NRDC, Nature Conservancy, and all the others, do not show widespread support from the fossil fuel industry. You have many private individuals who enjoy philanthrope and working on issues that are important to them. For many years, the CEO of Goldman Sachs was Chairman of the Board of Directors at the Nature Conservancy. Hank Paulson is married, has plenty of power in his day job to be able to wheel and deal as he chooses in the economy, and this says nothing about the support and patronage of Goldman Sachs for the goals and mission of the Nature Conservancy.
                  – IF TV spots for solar are funded by fossil fuel industry this is definitely news to me. Especially since I can find no evidence that this is the case.
                  – Jamaica and Bermuda I said all of them (for replacing fossil fuels), but geothermal or solar thermal in particular? I’m familiar with geothermal and wind development on Nevis, many islands have volcanoes and lots of geothermal resources in area.
                  – Nuclear waste: can we talk about mine tailings and DU now or are you still wanting to talk only of fission products from the nuclear plant? We also don’t reprocess fuel in the US (and there are many reasons why this could continue to be the case). Reprocessing of existing spent fuel reserves in US would itself take many centuries, and also produce additional low-level wastes and plutonium-contaminated waste.
                  – Deaths/harm to general public attributable to waste products from nuclear industry (front or backend). How about the widespread and irresponsible use of DU in armaments in Iraq.
                  – I take it you will grant me the claims of the environments are also equally exaggerated and untrue.

                  1. @Ed:
                    Now you are treading on thin ice that will cause me to stop treating you seriously. You are now telling me that using uranium in projectiles because it happens to be more dense than lead is something that should be blamed on the use of NUCLEAR ENERGY? Give me a flipping break.
                    No, the sun does not always shine here on earth where we all live and consume energy. It does not count to say that it is shining when there is an 8,000 mile diameter planet between me and where it is shining.
                    The wind does not always blow where I am and where I need power. I do not carry a multi-hundred mile long extension cord. Using your definitions of the availability of power from the wind and the sun, no matter where you are, there is always power being generated SOMEWHERE, all you need to do is to find the outlet and have a long enough cord. (Of course that is not true and you know it.)

                    1. Rod DU is a real issue. It’s a by product of the enrichment process, and is produced by the nuclear industry. We can return back to the mindless exchange of platitudes and faulty assumptions, which can be easily debunked and then re-stated in a different way to deflect (in a “red herring” kind of way) from sensitive issues. But then this would get us no-where, and such a conversation would accomplish nothing (and would not be a “real” conversation). Rather than deflect the issue, why not face it head on and do something about it. It wouldn’t be difficult to ban the use of DU for US military purposes. Is this something the nuclear industry advocates for and supports (knowing it is causing harm to civilian populations abroad)?

                    2. @Ed – using lead in shells also causes harm to civilian populations. So does using tungsten, steel or whatever other materials the bullet manufacturers choose.
                      We could just as easily use natural uranium as use DU, the isotopic concentration is not the issue. The material is used because it is really dense and makes a good penetrator when accelerated out a muzzle. It has NOTHING whatsoever to do with the use of uranium as a source of heat.

                  2. @Ed
                    Move your hands from in front of your face and take a look at the following links for evidence of fossil fuel companies spending money to advertise wind, solar, and other renewables:
                    http://www.chevron.com/about/advertising/
                    http://www.chevron.com/media/weagree/renewables/weagreerenewablestv.pdf
                    http://www.exxonmobil.com/Corporate/news_ad_us.aspx
                    http://www.bp.com/liveassets/bp_internet/globalbp/STAGING/global_assets/downloads/A/ABP_world_ad_US_earth_to_sun.pdf
                    http://www.netroadshow.com/custom/bp/bpflv3.asp?cf=042508d
                    I can provide more, but those are links from Chevron, ExxonMobil, and BP. The last time I checked, each of them had a rather substantial fossil fuels business. (Just to make it clear, I am using irony and understatement there.)

                    1. I’m not talking about shells made of lead, or tungsten or steel, or materials providing heat in a power plant. I’m talking about DU, and it’s a by product of the nuclear power industry. The nuclear industry could advocate for peaceful and beneficial uses of it’s waste products. Apparently, it does not. DU could be regulated so that radioactive weapons and materials in Iraq and Afghanistan don’t cause civilian deaths, cancer, and birth diffects. It doesn’t, and for some reason there is no accountability in your mind for the industry.
                      On fossil fuel ad buys … that’s very interesting (no irony here either). It appears that “greenwashing” as two very different meanings for environmentalists and pro-nuclear advocates. To one, it’s a cynical ploy to jump on the clean energy bandwagon and infuse name brand identity with a “greener” and more “people friendly” message. To another, it’s a cynical ploy to boost renewable energy developments because “we all know this” means more fossil fuels. Well, I don’t think we need to resort to any ulterior motives here but to history and economics. All these lessons were first learned by the cigarette industry half a century ago. Philip Morris (currently Altria Group) is now a highly diversified company (and they still make significant profits from selling smokes in foreign countries with emerging demographics of large young smokers). This doesn’t mean Philip Morris owning large shares of Kraft Foods or Chateau Ste. Michelle (the largest winery in Washing State) is motivated primarily by obtaining greater profits from cigarettes in the States. It’s a business decision, and fossil fuel energy companies are doing the same. They are more broadly becoming energy companies, and even more specifically energy service companies (when you look at how most publicly traded fossil fuel companies work these days, with far less extraction and new exploration than in the past). Same historical pattern, little evidence for ulterior motives or grand conspiracies, and two different meanings of “greenwashing” (might Occam’s Razor apply here).

                    2. @EL – Again I SAY, you are the one dragging in a red herring. The use of uranium for its density has NOTHING to do with the fact that we use uranium as the fuel for a reactor any more than the use of petroleum as an ingredient in rubber bullets has anything to do with whether or not we burn gasoline in our cars. There is no reason whatsoever that the arms manufacturing industry could not just choose to use natural uranium for their shells. Stop dragging in a completely separate topic.
                      For the record, despite the fact that I spent 33 years wearing a military uniform, I never fired a single bullet at anyone.
                      The comparison between a tobacco company making substantial investments into manufacturing and selling food and and oil companies advertising their investments in fossil fuel alternatives is huge. Phillip Morris’s investments into Kraft was, first of all, into products that do NOT compete with cigarettes and have no relationship with trying to replace cigarettes. The other part is that the scale of the investment was large enough to move the needle and actually change the focus of the company.
                      In contrast, the petroleum companies talk more about fossil fuel alternatives than they do their primary product, even though their investments in alternatives to fossil fuel are not even decimal dust in their annual reports. The annual revenue for ExxonMobil, for example, in 2010 was $450 billion. Their revenue for non fossil fuel alternative energy was probably less than a billion.
                      Fooling people like you into thinking that the petroleum companies have any interest at all in even slowing down their annual revenue capture from selling fossil fuel is the reason that they spend as much TALKING about alternative energy as they do WORKING on alternatives to fossil fuel and why you have not seen any mention at all of nuclear energy in their ad campaigns. If they really were diversifying a broader portfolio of energy related technologies, why aren’t you seeing any of the hugely well capitalized major oil companies – other than the French Total – investing in nuclear energy? It is not because there are no opportunities – these are multinational players who certainly can see that there are enormous opportunities in China, Korea, the UAE, the UK, Japan, Taiwan, etc.
                      If they really wanted to be energy companies rather than petroleum companies, where are their serious nuclear investments. (ExxonMobil was once a player in nuclear fuel until they found out that there was way too much uranium in the world to control its supply like OPEC maintains the supply/demand balance in oil at a profitable level.)

                    3. This tiresome commenter is still doing nothing except parroting antinuclear propaganda, demonstrating one again that he has no interest in learning the truth, but instead is now grasping at straws in a pathetic attempt to salvage his ego. Here is a item I wrote some year ago on DU.
                      Depleted uranium first emerged as a social, political, and scientific issue after the 1991 Gulf War. The decline of rational discourse about DU can be traced to the 1999 Kosovo conflict. At that time, the DU issue took on a more overtly political role. The Yugoslav government under Sloboban Milosevic suggested the use of DU in the Balkans would have genocidal effects, and when the U.S. government refused to release information about its use of DU following the war, activists and propagandists alike suggested that the United States was responsible for causing widespread and severe effects from its use of DU munitions. Saddam Hussein similarly blamed the United States (and DU) for a sharp increase in cancers and birth defects, and Yasser Arafat joined the chorus by accusing Israel of using DU in Palestinian territories. In the years since 1999, politicians, propagandists, and activists have intoxicated each other with heart-wrenching but extremely misleading and unsubstantiated claims about the effects of DU munitions, radicalizing the issue in a way that has had a chilling effect upon serious debate.
                      Ironically, U.S. propaganda fueled the uncertainty surrounding the effects of DU munitions on Iraqis, which in turn facilitated the Saddam Hussein regime? own propaganda. A policy of ?roponency?to prevent DU munitions from becoming ?olitically unacceptable?was recommended shortly as the war ended, and in the subsequent years, Pentagon spokesmen dismissed concerns about DU munitions in the same breath as they overstated its success in defeating the Iraqi tank corps. The hype helped create the impression that the battlefield was far more contaminated by DU dust than it probably was, thereby enabling the Iraqi government to effectively exploit an reported rise in cancers and birth defects by blaming the effects on DU munitions and, more importantly, the United States.
                      The scientific debate is now bogged down in confusion over the extent and severity of DU exposures, but many of the statements made by extremists have become a muddled mixture of verifiable facts, speculative assertions, and politically motivated falsehoods.
                      Prior to the use of DU munitions in combat, large quantities ?probably on the order of thousands of tons of DU ?were shot at testing ranges in the United States, United Kingdom, and as well as in the former Soviet Union and other countries. In addition to the United States, United Kingdom, and Israel, it is possible and even probable that other countries or armed forces have used DU munitions in combat. Some anti-DU activists have claimed the quantities of DU shot by U.S. forces are orders of magnitude higher than the figures released by militaries and governments. While such deception is not outside the realm of possibility, the figures released by some activists, such as the claim that the U.S. released 900,000 kg (2,000,000 lbs) of DU in Afghanistan, lack any supporting data, and in some cases are complete fabrications.

                    4. con’t…
                      Some activists also started to advance claims based more on assertion than proof. These activists, including some with science backgrounds, started to exploit the scientific uncertainties and decry DU as a ?rime against God and humanity.?Cults of personality formed around activists who spread a dire gospel based on a blend of fact and fiction as they marched forward, ever forward, in a messianic haze. A new crop of self-proclaimed DU experts emerged in the wake of the Kosovo conflict exploiting the DU issue to raise money for their organizations, and others pointed to DU as a manifestation of the evils of the United States and NATO. Some of these new activists joined forces with more seasoned experts to claim not only proof of widespread and severe effects from DU, but also to assert that these effects were an intentional consequence of the U.S.use of DU munitions. A few marginal scientists marred their professional reputations by becoming scientist-activists who made claims and interpreted data to create misleading and intellectually dishonest assessments of DU? actual and potential effects.
                      The fantastic claims of well-known activists have grown progressively more extreme since 1999. Without any credible health or environmental studies in post-war Iraq on DU, activists have claimed the effects are comparable to those of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion. Some prominent activists have claimed that not only has the use of DU already caused genocidal effects in Iraq, but that the US uses DU munitions to intentionally inflict genocide on populations. In some cases, one lie leads to another, such as when one activist asserted ?without supporting data ?that U.S. missiles and bombs contain large quantities of DU, and then a publicity-seeking, fund-raising organization calling itself the Uranium Medical Research Centre used this claim to advance its own unsupported assertion that the U.S. had spread uranium contamination across Afghanistan, resulting in severe health effects. The prize for the most outlandish claim about DU to date goes to activist Leuren Moret. Moret, who works closely with Doug Rokke and other anti-DU extremists, has uttered some of the most bizarre and uninformed statements about DU, including the following statement made in February 2004:
                      “Anyone within 1,000 miles of Iraq; anyone within 1,000 miles of Afghanistan is potentially contaminated now. It? not just the people [living] in the country Anyone going to Iraq or Afghanistan now will become contaminated. There? no way to escape it.
                      Such certainty is the hallmark of the DU extremists. However, Moret? most distinctive and substantial contribution to the decline of rational discourse about the effects of DU is her claim that the use of DU munitions has resulted in atmospheric pollution by radioactive dust equal to the detonation of 400,000 Nagasaki bombs. Of course, there are differences of opinion even among the most irrational and uninformed extremists another activist says the use of DU is equal to only 250,000 Nagasaki bombs.
                      When moderate activists raised concerns about the accuracy of the increasingly alarmist claims about DU, they became the target of character assassination campaigns. In fact, the debate over DU has declined to the point where the simple act of questioning a claim made by Doug Rokke, Asaf Durakovic, or other prominent activists is labeled a heresy by a small jury of vocal extremists who operate mainly through the Internet. Rational discourse about the use and effects of DU munitions has become increasingly difficult and rare.
                      As far as the people suffering from the health effects of being in combat, it would seem to me that it would be very, very hard to isolate exposure to any one material from the hazmat background in an active theater; such places are not exactly OSHA compliant to begin with.
                      There are many environmental hazards caused by modern munitions, singling out DU is a bit of a red herring that is leveraging peoples fear of all things nuclear. This stuff has been use in ordnance since 1958, but it wasn’t till two tin-pot dictators tried using the issue to discredit NATO in general and the U.S. in particular that anyone noticed it. Never mind Iraq, why haven’t epidemiological studies been done to the populations near test ranges in the U.S., the U.K. and France? Why would anyone want to run a study under conditions where the confounding variables will make any conclusion scientifically suspect?

                    5. No honest commenter would sully their line of argument by attempting to drag the non-issue of DU into the mix on a debate about the viability of nuclear energy. It is clear that EL knows he/she has lost the argument, but rather than use this new understanding to reassess his/her own position, is now wallowing in self-justificatory fantasy and clinging religiously to a discredited faith.

                    6. @ DV82XL. We agree on the contested nature of this research!
                      We disagree on why there is public concern over DU: namely, anti-nuclear cults mobilized around charismatic personalities who delude followers with a messianic haze of crimes against God and Humanity in order to generate large profits for rich and powerful environmental organizations to continue their work of misinformation, grasping at straws, ego salvage, irrational discourse, genocidal scare tactics, muddled facts, speculative assertions, politically motivated falsehoods, deception, fabrication, and all else floating around the drain at the bottom of the sink.
                      Whew do I have that correct (that’s all from one paragraph)?
                      @ Finrod. I’m not sure how breathing in dust from an alpha emitter can be seen as anything other than a serious health hazard (and studies in the lab appear to suggest the same here
                      ,here,here, andhere
                      ).. But keep it up, don’t let anybody tell you a losing battle can’t be won. It would be much easier in my mind (and perhaps a bit more uplifting from a moral perspective) to focus on battles that can be won, and just say DU is a public concern, it needs more research, we read the same reports as everyone else, and we aren’t supplying weapons materials (radiation wastes or otherwise) to the military. But this is the US … so?
                      The US will also have to look more closely at international agreements to be seen as an honest broker on issue. Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission prohibits the use of Canadian uranium in DU used by any military. Why no similar commitments from the US? It’s an easy issue to take off the table, but somehow nobody appears to want to do this, and the civilian power industry does nothing to clean up it’s public image and distance itself from even “the appearance” (if only that) of a long standing historical relationship with the Pentagon.

                    7. El,
                      You’ve really got to be kidding about the DU issue. You’re talking about a few kg of projectiles that were fired in the desert, not something that is say, pumped out of a smoke stack 24 hours per day. This isn’t even about energy, you’re trying to cloud this debate with military hardware (hilarious)? You are beaten, and badly. You’ll keep going though, which is really what we want, because intelligent people know that if you let an anti nuke talk long enough, everyone will see what a raving lunatic he/she is, as you’ve so clearly demonstrated with your DU ammunition argument.

                    8. @EL – No we do not agree, there is no confusion except in the minds of the deluded.
                      That you think there is an issue shows you do not understand what is going on, and lack the grounding in basic physics to aquire that understanding.
                      Finrod is right, you know you have lost and now are only trying to flip firecrackers into our laps, in a pathetic attempt to salve your wounded ego. This demonstrates that you are now little better than a troll, and |I will ignore you, and suggest everyone else here does the same.

                    9. From the fourth reference linked by EL:
                      “Health effects
                      Potentially depleted uranium has both chemical and radiological toxicity with the two important
                      target organs being the kidneys and the lungs. Health consequences are determined by the
                      physical and chemical nature of the depleted uranium to which an individual is exposed, and
                      to the level and duration of exposure.
                      Long-term studies of workers exposed to uranium have reported some impairment of kidney
                      function depending on the level of exposure. However, there is also some evidence that this
                      impairment may be transient and that kidney function returns to normal once the source of
                      excessive uranium exposure has been removed.
                      Insoluble inhaled uranium particles, 1-10 ? in size, tend to be retained in the lung and may
                      lead to irradiation damage of the lung and even lung cancer if a high enough radiation dose
                      results over a prolonged period.
                      Direct contact of depleted uranium metal with the skin, even for several weeks, is unlikely to
                      produce radiation-induced erythema (superficial inflammation of the skin) or other short term
                      effects. Follow-up studies of veterans with embedded fragments in the tissue have shown
                      detectable levels of depleted uranium in the urine, but without apparent health consequences.
                      The radiation dose to military personnel within an armoured vehicle is very unlikely to exceed
                      the average annual external dose from natural background radiation from all sources.”
                      All the others are basically unanimous in denying any great concern over the health effects of DU, and at any rate concern studies in which DU pellets were implanted in rats, rather than anything looking at the toxxicology of inhaled DU. I can only conclude that EL simply didn’t bother reading the abstracts. Of course, if anyone is involved in a pastime of powderising uranium and snorting it, I’d recommend using DU over any other sort simply because of its lower radioactivity. Given the density of uranium dust, the odds against anyone who didn’t die from the DU round hitting the tank inhaling any of it are probably remote.
                      That’s enough from me on this topic. EL realised that the energy industry arguments he/she fielded went nowhere, and then tried to shift the debate away from that main point to the DU, sideshow thinking some easy points could be scored. EL was badly mistaken.

                    10. BTW – Canada has a bilateral nuclear co-operation agreement with the US, and every other country it sells uranium in any form to under which uranium exports may only be used for peaceful purposes, and not in weapons. This applies to DU only obliquely in that the remainder after enrichment is still considered Canadian sourced uranium. No special regulations in respect to DU are in force.
                      These bilateral agreements are mandated by Canada’s obligations under the NPT

  6. @Matthew,
    Since you said “fighting against,” it appears to me you have assumed that nuclear activists are opposed to the use of nuclear fuel as a source of electricity? Perhaps you meant anti-nuclear activists?
    The nuclear activists that I know fight *for* something: low environmental impact power sources, at a reasonable cost – nuclear power.
    Thanks.

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