1. I applaud this video for pointing out that we should stick with the science.

    Assuming the data provided at about 6:55 is correct, then about 6,000,000 people got about 9 mSv. From the science provided by BEIR VII, we know that about 100 mSv yields an increased cancer risk of about 1%, so we expect an increased cancer risk of about .09% in that population (maybe more or less due to difference in baseline cancer risks of Russian versus American populations).

    It’s early in the a.m., but if my math is right that’s about 5,400 additional cancers. Pretty small increase considering the background risk of cancer.

    Shame on people who exaggerate much more than that, but also shame on people who exaggerate much less than that.

    1. Shame on people who pretend to understand “science” when they don’t.

      Bob – What do you know about science?!

      To those who do have scientific training, I ask: what is missing from Bob’s figures?

      The answer is error bars or any quantification of uncertainty. Yet, this guy wants to lecture everybody on exaggeration?!!

      Sorry, Bob, unless you inform us of the uncertainty in your calculations, you have informed us of nothing. I would have hoped that you would have picked up such understanding in your graduate studies at Georgia Tech, but sadly I am disappointed. You are not representing your program very well.

      You do not think like a scientist. Please don’t try to lecture us about “science” again.

  2. I think more than anything that the darkly alarmist manner that nuclear energy has been portrayed is an indictment of the media as a “accurate” and “impartial”: organ of information. The scare stories and ominous tones about Fukushima are no accident or “badly informed” reporting but a willfully malicious slant to accomplish an agenda to no less abolish nuclear energy for an assortment of specious reasons, from to avenging Hiroshima for the particularly evil thing the atom did there to har’em scare’em “science” reporters trying to keep themselves socially relevant and on the payroll of “science” cable shows. What’s is just totally amazing to me is flying in the face of historic fact of nuclear energy’s incredibly low mortality/property/environmental damage score opposed gas, oil, hydro and even wind, the media insists on portraying nuclear energy as the dark villain of the energy world.The fight for nuclear energy is indeed a fight for the media.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

    1. @Bob – would you care to remind us what the Heath Physics Society says about using collective dose to predict consequences of radiation exposure?

      Just in case you have forgotten:

      “Collective dose (the sum of individual doses in a defined exposed population expressed as person-rem) has been a useful index for quantifying dose in large populations and in comparing the magnitude of exposures from different radiation sources. However, collective dose may aggregate information excessively, for example, a large dose to a small number of people is not equivalent to a small dose to many people, even if the collective doses are the same. Thus, for populations in which almost all individuals are estimated to receive a lifetime dose of less than 10 rem above background, collective dose is a highly speculative and uncertain measure of risk and should not be used for the purpose of estimating population health risks.


      1. Great one, that’ll leave a mark.

        The difficulty is maybe that we must attach some quantified risk to low dose radiation, because otherwise we can’t pin down minimum quality standards for nuke technology implementation. But the conundrum is how to then turn around credibly to the member of the public, when a plant gets damaged like in Fukushima, and tell everybody to honestly calm down, by trying to explain the difference between a regulatory safety level and a ‘safe’ safety level, and regulatory calculations of risk with ‘actual’ risk.

        Bob doesn’t even understand the difference it seems, so how difficult must it not be for the member of the public to understand all this?

  3. I think the video is excellent. But, personally, I’m not sure it’s a good idea to disable comments. I agree that in the feedback there will be abuse and misinformation. I have gotten unbelievable comments in my forays into the anti-nuke youtube video comments, including obsenities and death threats. But the comment section is where the action happens. Might it not be better to take the crazies on, treat them with politeness and rationalism? People’s ideas do change (I used to be anti-nuke), and many people are susceptible to reason.

  4. Here is the real problem with what Bob Applebaum posted – risk is not linear!

    For example, salt. If you consume a large amount all it once it can be instantly fatal. Large doses can lead to long term health impacts. Chronic exceedences can also create problems.

    But low doses have no decernable impact on mortality. None.

    What is true for salt is true of any natural substance. There is accute, chronic, and no response levels.

    Radiation is no different. There is an accute exposure number, a chronic exposure number, and a no effect number. So when he says that 100 mSv yields an increased cancer risk of about 1%, so 9 mSv should yeild a increased cancer risk of about 0.09%, that is utter rubbish. 9 mSv is below the threshold of a response, period.

    It is like saying that eating one kilogram of salt will be 100% fatal, so 1 gram will kill 0.1% of the population, and 0.1 grams will be instantly fatal to 0.01% of the population, and so forth. You then take your phoney percent number and multiply it by a really big number, like all the people in the U.S. So, by this logic, today 3 million people in the U.S. must have droped dead from eating salt. Anyone think that is true?

  5. Someone more qualified than I (no scientific training and admittedly suspicious of people in white coats telling me what level of radiation I am exposed to) should comment on the theory that *very small* doses of radiation have a disproportionately higher risk of damaging (as opposed to killing) developing cells.

    The result of that would be a higher incidence of birth defects an developmental problems later in life etc.

    And before anyone jumps on me, I am perfectly aware that my dental x-rays have a generally beneficial effect, on balance. However I question this extending that attitude that the Nuclear Industry must be good for me because it produces electricity, tht is a different scale and has different sociological effects.

    1. @Alan – this blog contains a large number of posts that include links to carefully researched, peer reviewed scientific papers on the health effects of low level radiation. I recommend searching the site for “health effects radiation”. There is no validity to the theory, often posed by people like Chris Busby or Helen Caldicott, that lower levels of radiation can actually be more dangerous than higher levels. (Actually, I suppose there is some evidence if you accept the evidence that supports hormesis – it is possible to get radiation levels down so low that you fall below your minimum daily adult requirement of radiation and begin suffering from the effects of a deficiency in your radiation diet. However, those levels are only achievable if you take special precautions to protect against naturally occurring radiation.)

      I am not a guy in a white coat. I spent most of my professional career wearing khakis and a portion of that career engaging in practical aspects of using nuclear materials to generate power. On a whole, the benefits from using uranium, plutonium and thorium to produce power instead of burning fossil fuels to produce that power are incredibly large for all of society. It reduces the amount of pollution generated and increases the overall supply of energy, which has the effect of lowering prices for all other customers – though that effect can be diffuse and hard to measure in an industry as large as “energy” where there are about $6 trillion worth of transactions every year.

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