Ted Rockwell

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14 Comments

  1. The biggest problem with this pile of dreck is its size. Shoveling through it is not going to be fun, nor is it going to be all that productive. A proper treatment could take years, and wouldn’t change the minds of those holding it up as ligitimate. The rest of us don’t need to be convinced its a crock.

    It would need a massive investment of time, with poor returns for any scientist with the standing to formally challenge the work.

    Not that it doesn’t need to be done but I don’t see a rush to engage happining.

    1. I think the biggest problem that supporters of nuclear energy face is that many people inherently distrust them. This is probably due to the secrecy that accompanied the early nuclear industry as a result of its military roots. (British power reactors are converted bomb factories, while American power reactors are enlarged submarine engines.)

      What we need to do is to demonstrate that Greenpeace and other anti-nuclear organizations are not trustworthy.

  2. @George – members of the nuclear community have allowed others to set the agenda and to portray us in a negative light. I believe that one of the primary ways to overcome that is to show just how much financial benefit the oil and gas industry derives from anti-nuclear activities. I think many well meaning people would be appalled to realize whose water they are actually carrying.

    1. I’d argue that that nuclear industry allowed itself to be taken for suckers by its enemies just as Neville Chamberlain allowed himself to be suckered by Hitler.

      Germany’s claim on the Sudetenland looked reasonable in and of itself (as the Sudetenland was after all full of Germans), but that didn’t take into account that Hitler’s agenda wasn’t just “bring all Germans into Germany”, but ultimately “conquer and depopulate Eastern Europe, so that Germany can be self-sufficient in all resources”.

      Similarly, the anti-nukes’ demands for extra safety precautions looked reasonable, but the goal of such people was not safer nuclear energy but no nuclear energy, at best to allow increased profiteering by fossil fuel resource owners, and at worst to bring down industrial civilization.

      I’d probably in fact go further to argue that the nuclear industry’s behaviour was even more inexcusable, because at least Neville Chamberlain also had other reasons to appease Hitler (primarily fear of Soviet expansionism).

  3. The anti-nuclear movement has over the 25 years since Chernobyl managed to create an “urban legend” that is extremely hard to debunk with people who haven’t ever looked into it themselves with an open mind. The “legend” of Chernobyl includes thousands and thousands of immediate deaths, millions of cancer deaths, and even more heartbreaking, thousands and thousands of malformed and handicapped children, the pictures of which are virtually synonymous with “Chernobyl”. Recently someone even made a video game that implies the exclusion zone is a zone of horror roamed by zombies.
    The nuclear industry’s assurances that new nuclear plants are safe and that another Chernobyl is highly improbable is hardly comforting for people who believe this legend. This was a mistake: we should have focused on debunking the radiophobia. Anything and Everything is being “suspected” and blamed for causing cancer: Cell phones, fast food, car exhaust. Since today, one in three of us gets cancer at some point in our lives, and rising, it’s easy to make these claims. But their fearmongering is wearing out, and we have truth on our side.

  4. This is frustrating because the risk of making a martyr out of this book is a real one.

    Also, in my experience, committees struggle with questions like ‘how will it look?’ and ‘won’t we just create a bigger controversy?’.

    Nonetheless, I would urge the NYAS to stay focused on its raison d’etre and prioritise science by ditching this dodgy book.

  5. Thanks for your continuous work on this topic, Rod. What you and Ted are doing should be kept in mind by all of us, each and every time that a flawed scientific report or paper, unverified by peers, is used left and right by antinuclear people.

    Just last night, on a national political TV program here in Italy, the representative of the Green party used once again both the NYAS report as a way to refute the UNSCEAR findings mentioned by pro-nuclear Prof. Franco Battaglia, who was arguing about the figures of dead people and people who developed cancer after the Chernobyl accident.

    The politician also used the KiKK report from Germany to validate his point, yet another flawed report quite famous here in Europe, which is reported also in this good comment on a post on BNC:
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/09/07/is-our-future-nuclear/#comment-26991

    We need more “fact sheets” that could be used in all the situations, particularly in media debates, where knowledge of the really weak spots in those flawed reports can be highlighted in a simple way to a non-technical audience.

    We need to broaden our reach much beyond what we’re used to do today, if we want to have a chance to really influence the world in a positive way. There is still too much bad-mouthing nuclear, particularly here in Europe, and I would like to contribute as best as I can in this never-ending debate.

    The silly thing is, I don’t see nuclear as something that would go against other renewables, while those who are in favour of renewables always fight against nuclear. I frankly do not understand in what dream world these guys live in.

    Thanks for all your wonderful work on the blog and podcast, Rod. Much appreciated.

    Luca Bertagnolio
    Milan, Italy

  6. And now, lo and behold, the latest rant from Helen Caldicott on the New York Times lists the NYAS report as her source of information to spread the lie of one million (insert pic of Dr. Evil sucking pinky) dead from the Chernobyl accident, while she mentions IAEA (really, not UNSCEAR!) as liars for reporting only 4000 predicted deaths from cancer:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/opinion/01caldicott.html

    We must not succumb to this shameless blowing snow spread by Caldicott. I am hoping that Rod, Ted, and all you others out there in America can turn back to the NY Times and maybe link the comment made to George Monbiot by Douglas Braaten, Director and Executive Editor, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, on April 2nd 2011, in which he stated “In no sense did Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences or the New York Academy of Sciences commission this work; nor by its publication do we intend to independently validate the claims made in the translation or in the original publications cited in the work. The translated volume has not been peer-reviewed by the New York Academy of Sciences, or by anyone else.”

    Monbiot’s post with the above mention is at:
    http://www.monbiot.com/2011/04/04/evidence-meltdown/

  7. can’t be the LNT hypothesis reduced ‘ad absurdum’ by comparison to homoeopathy?

    1. For statistical reasons the LNT cannot be falsified and so the precautionary principle is adopted by default. The reason being that an LNT model is the simplest, most conservative model that can be fit to currently existing evidence.

      The problem with the LNT model is the same as the problem with any other environmental insult model. While at higher radiation doses, effects due to radiation are, like effects due to pretty much any other high-level environmental exposure, much more robust and reproducible, at lower radiation doses, the effects are weaker, and the scatter in the data is much greater. In other words, at low doses the signal-to-noise ratio is much lower due to a lot more noise and a lot less signal in the data. Moreover, the data are more difficult to collect, and variability from system to system, organism to organism, and cancer to cancer is likely to be much greater.

      Thus for a regulator, as imperfect as it is, the LNT model is a reasonable approximation for purposes of policy-making because it is conservative and safe.

      What is needed is a new paradigm for radiation exposure built from scratch, rather than current attempts to discredit LNT by validating the radiation hormesis model, which seems to be the thrust of the current efforts.

      Because until better data can be gathered that clearly demonstrate the superiority of one model over another, for a regulator, the responsible and safe model to choose is the most conservative one that fits reasonably well. Basing public policy on a model that, if incorrect, has the potential to result in considerable harm in the form of increased radiation-induced disease prevalence is not wise policy at all, at least when the alternate model is not demonstrably wrong.

      Yes, this is politics, not science, but in this case the former will always prevail. Change will only come when the scientific evidence is so overwhelming, that the precautionary principle need not apply.

  8. Hey Rob, I’ve been seening articles by this “George Washington” blogger showing up on pretty popular economics sites on the Internet claiming that we are over exposed to plutonium and that man made radiation is different from “natural radiation” and that The banana-radiation thing was debunked @ the Guardian weeks. He’s also implied that Fukushima is worse the Gulf Oil spill.

    Here’s link and I’m hoping someone does a serious rebuttal of this George Washington blogger’s nonsense because this stuff must be answered because it already has to much of a life on it’s own. http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/05/guest-post-no-a-little-radiation-is-not-good-for-you.html

    I”d like to write a detailed response to the dozen post or so by anti nuclear bloggers like George Washington but to that I need access to a forum and some experts like Robert Gale because this stuff like claming at total meltdown at 3 reactors will pressure vessel breach. http://ex-skf.blogspot.com/2011/04/fukushima-i-nuke-plant-japan-nuclear.html

    The Antis are constructing a completely different story as to what has happened and if it’s not answered now it will take root just like this Greenpease report.

  9. I have just heard a rumour that the NYAS is trying to distance itself from the Chernobyl report. Does anyone have any confirmation or statement made by the NYAS thats says they regret the publication as I was advised or is it false?

    Cheers

  10. Debunking a thick report full of figures, graphs and formulas looks like a formidable task. In this case, it isn’t. Because the report itself says repeatedly, starting on page 2, that normal science doesn’t give the right answer. This is not an inference or an implication. The NYAS-Greenpeace report itself says the scientific community all disagrees with it because they’ve been bought off by the evil nuclear industry.

    The whole report is based on this unsupported premise. That’s all that needs to be debunked.

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