1. Always terrific to see retired Oxford University physics professor Dr. Wade Allison in action. Go Wade!

    For more from him about radiation fears and nuclear power earlier this year, readers might also want to have a look at this:


    I agree with Rod’s “facepalm” reaction to the argument that nuclear is too expensive to matter. In the video above, Allison states at one point that the cost of nuclear power is 50% too high due to unnecessary safety expenses meant purely to appease the anti-nuclear movement. These expenses would not exist if nuclear regulations were formulated based on science, rather than appeasement.

  2. I think that one method to open the public’s mind is to draw an analogy to cars and phones. Everybody understands that cars and phones from the 50’s and 60’s work, but have gotten better – so why not nuclear power? And both cars and phones have a several decade head start on nuclear power.
    Also, the “no safe dose” *might* be equated to “no sex before marriage” — theoretical/ideal but in practice….

    1. Also, regarding “No Safe Dose” – well, since we’re all constantly exposed to background radiation, are we at any meaningful additional risk if there’s a 1% or 10% increase in that background radiation? What if the background radiation in a particularly low-radiation area is raised by 50%, but is still lower than much of the rest of the Earth? Certainly, any level that does not exceed the background radiation in Colorado can’t be considered ‘unsafe’, can it?

  3. What about low dose internal radiation? Bioaccumulation? And why did the EPA *raise* the acceptable limit of radiation in US food in 2013 to the highest allowable limit on the planet?

  4. can someone explain this to me because international organizations still maintain the LNT model? the truth is that not to believe in ….. On one hand this and the other is still in use: hold the LNT for risk estimates, who is right and truth in all this?

  5. The British were among the few that didn’t panic after Fukushima. The UK government’s science advisor John Beddington, too, did a good job arguing against Fukushima hype.

    1. Yes, he was extremely reassuring. His information was a welcome counter to the FUD that was being spread by the news media at the time.

  6. Radiophobia in Japan has the appearance of originating in flaws in Japanese culture. Why else would it be allowed to run amock, forcing Japan to import expensive LNG, coal and even oil to generate electricity, having unnecessarily shut down all of their nuclear plants? Japan needs cheap nuclear electricity to produce high-value exports, which in turn allow it to import food, as I understand it. Why on earth would Japanese industrialists capitulate to absurd radiation hysteria, refuse to fight against it, in the face of such compelling economic logic? (Rather than discussing various semi-feudal cultural survivals in Japan that might be factors, a simple list might include: rage at the violation of the cultural contract between corporations and its subjects that calls for blind obedience in exchange for not being disrespected; a related conformism; perhaps a taboo about contamination and dirt stemming from pre-scientific-era ways to avoid disease; and others.) It still doesn’t add up. But consider this: Japan’s sovereign debt is calculated variously as 134% to 240% of GDP, depending on one’s methodology. In either case, it is very high. Like all governments today, they wish to reduce this problem through very moderate inflation, to pay off creditors with easy (printed) money. High inflation kills the economy through high interest rates, and worsens the situation. Deflation, which entails a downward spiral of prices and wages and taxes means government default on its debt. Societal bankruptcy. Some commentators think that Japan’s leadership has to some extent actually welcomed high priced energy imports in order to fight the terrifying prospect of deflation and bankruptcy. And so, radiophobic hysteria is given a free pass, at least for awhile. Here, I leave out other interests who like radiophobia: those whose negligence about tsunami protection helped to kill about 20,000 people; those who profit from high priced fossil fuel imports, both in the private sector and in government (increased taxes.) So, the “fight deflation” via higher energy prices and radiophobia might shed some light on what looks to be crazy behavior of the Japanese ruling class. I for one do not think they are intellectually incapable of promoting a scientific view of low-dose radiation. Something smells fishy in the land of sushi.

    1. Radiophobia in Japan dates back to WWII. The treatment of atomic bomb survivors was just shy of horrific. These people posed no credible threat to anyone, but they were shunned nonetheless. Imagine surviving such an incredible nightmare and THEN being cast aside by the rest of society (especially in an East Asian society that places so much emphasis on community identity).

      1. True enough. For example, my reading of “The Rape of Nanking” suggests that the defeated Japanese militarists had (and continue to have) an interest in hyping the atomic bombings as much worse than anything the Japanese imperialists did in WW2, such as the barbarism they committed in China. In this way, they try to preserve elements of the pre-WW2 semi-feudal culture of working-class subservience to corporate power, and nationalism vs. foreigners, that is so profitable. Nevertheless, I think historical and cultural explanations for the apparent idiocy of not fighting back against radiophobia today just don’t seem to fully explain things, for me.

        1. “…working-class subservience to corporate power…”

          Written like a true leftist when today it is the left – Andy Cuomo, Ed Markey, Barbara Boxer, Bernie Sanders, et alias – who oppose nuclear power.

          BTW, I work for a living in nuclear energy and do not begrudge my corporate employer from earning a profit.

          1. I have a conspiracy theory about Japan. I don’t believe it was independent politicians, majority opinion, or coincidence that explains Japan.
            Before Fukushima, Japan was the most high-tech loving society imaginable, Sony, the video game culture, hybrid cars, digital toilet seats, high speed trains, and nukes.
            After Fukushima, they suddenly changed, they delayed the restart of their plants endlessly to this day, imposed draconian energy conservation, raised energy prices, introduced European-style subsidies for solar/wind.
            – This is not a “natural” reaction of a former high-tech society. The Japanese people, more than any other, should be aware they suffered little from Fukushima while it was the natural disaster that devastated them. Someone very powerful behind the scenes must have whispered ‘something’ into the ear of Naoto Kan, and Kan set Japan on course to become a deindustrialized low-energy society.

          2. I’m guessing Naoto Kan was scared out his mind, by Arnie Gundersen.

            In the Baverstock lecture, Baverstock points the audience to the LNT collective dose projection of up to 3 thousand excess cancer cases total in the Japanese population due to Fukushima nuclear incident. He accuses UNSCEAR of understating the gravity of this number in its reporting.

            I wonder if Baverstock is aware of the 3 thousand excess deaths due to air pollution in Germany due to coal burning, occurring every year, in the course of normal operation.


            I also wonder if Naoto Kan, in attacking Japan’s nuclear capability like he has, was aware of the annual coal death count in Germany and how is was the same size as the most conservative projection of the Fukushima contamination total death count.

    2. As a long-term resident of Japan, I have my own impression of the local attitude to nuclear power.

      I don’t feel the recent aversion to nuclear power is related to the Japanese experience of nuclear attack in 1945. They were fine with nuclear energy until 2011.

      Nor, as Jerry suggests, has there been a sudden loss of national industry or technology. The country remains technologically impressive despite the general economic stagnation since the 90s.

      Naturally however there are cultural factors at play.

      For one, the Japanese psyche is cautious, even fearful. Individuals are risk averse. It doesn’t matter that this perceived risk is not matched by actual risk.

      For example, several years ago an elementary school student on her way to school was kidnapped, killed, and dismembered. One child among millions traveling to school safely. After a national outcry about crime, elementary school children now carry a little battery-powered ‘alarm siren’ which they are supposed to activate in case they are kidnapped prior to being killed and dismembered.

      This tendency to fearfulness (some might call it paranoia) really come into its own during the Fukushima ‘crisis’. Fearmongering programs dominated the news and media. For months our neighbor refused to let her kids play outside for fear of radiation, keeping them inside and driving them stir-crazy, and we live in Tokyo.

      This attitude of over-caution also helps explain the 1 billion dollars of unnecessary safety systems for each reactor that is mandated by the Japanese Nuclear Regulatory Authority (although perhaps it may be directly influenced by fossil-fuel interests, I can’t find that out).

      Secondly, in Japanese culture there is a tendency to search for a scapegoat, someone to take responsibility for a disaster. It doesn’t really matter if no causal relationship exists, there must be a fall guy. For example, company CEOs are sometimes forced to resign to take responsibility for scandals they didn’t even know about. A chairman of a train company might resign to take responsibility for a fatal accident, even if the actual negligence was on the part of some random mechanic who forgot to check something.

      In March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi, it seemed to me, became the Fall Guy for the 19,000 deaths resulting from the tsunami.

      The rest you can put down to the Natural Fallacy, grassroots radiophobia similar to the West’s, and an opportunistic power shift within the governing Liberal Democratic Party, where it seems fossil-fuel interests now back the dominant faction.

      I also don’t discount Jeffery Miller’s point, where technological progress is being slow by an increasing aversion to risk worldwide.

      1. I wonder how much risk-aversion in Japan (and to a lesser extent in Western countries) is down to its aging population? The young have an urge to reshape the world to their liking, while the old just want a quiet life.

        1. Thanks George…. I find that thought to be extremely intriguing…. I’ve never heard it anywhere before. You may be quite on the money.

        2. Yes, it’s a brilliant thought George.

          Presumably, older people who are anti-nuclear still take that position to be a no-brainer. Presumably, if they are told that anti-nuclearism is nothing like a no-brainer, but may in fact be a grave threat to their children, their inherent concern for the fate of their children should trigger them to at least consider anti-nuclearism to be a controversial position?

      2. As another long-term Japanese resident Michael, I have to say you are spot-on.

        One tsunami-initiated nuclear accident: 3 inquiries.
        20,000 killed in a tsunami which should have been guarded against in at least some areas (the Fjord-like Sanriku Coast, for example): 0 inquiries.

  7. Allison gave a great answer to the German commenter, but I would have also pointed out that it is simply wrong that nuclear is more expensive than renewables (particularly in European nations like Germany!).

    Here’s one source showing that:


    Speaking of Germany, here’s another article making arguments that we need to hear more of:


    1. The German correspondend showed a clear case of motivated reasoning. The conclusion (nuclear is unacceptable) is the starting point and any bogus argument is rolled out to support it. If one (like the assertion that radiation is incredibly and incomparably dangerous) is cast into doubt, the anti nuclear ideologues just move to the next one, like cost, waste or proliferation.

      Cost is clearly no excuse to shut down nuclear power plants prematurely. The utilities wanted to keep their plants running in spite of a punitive nuclear fuel tax of roughly 2.5 cents per kWh, competing against highly subsidised wind and solar and subsidised coal (yes, coal still receives subsidies in Germany, until 2018).

      The reason for the German fear of nuclear power is decades of propaganda.

  8. Does anyone know anything more about what Wade Allison mentions at 38 minutes, about a German company offering “nuclear at a special tariff”? A link to a news item with more detail would be nice.

      1. Interesting!
        Here in the Netherlands we have a company called Atoomstroom that sells electricity from nuclear power plants. They are a distributor only, and buy their power in Gemany!
        I hadn’t expected something like that in Germany.

  9. I watched Dr. Baverstock’s lecture also, which apparently represents the anti-nuclear side of the issue. He provides some interesting insight to the mind of an anti-nuclear scientist (which are rare in my experience).

    His repeated references to the “risks of nuclear radiation” suggests to me that he suffers from a rather strong fear of radiation. He objected to use of the term “radiophobia” during a question about Chernobyl’s psycho-social effects, as though it were a personal insult. He was openly combative when an audience member suggested that excess evacuations killed people (the moderator had to intervene).

    He did not bring any data to support his position on risks, other than a slide (at time 17:36) which estimated 0.5% of exposed Fukushima workers getting excess cancers (too few to detect), and 3000 people, or 24 ppm of the Japanese general public getting excess cancers (far too few to detect). The numbers assumed the linear-no-threshold model (LNT), but he referred to it as “using standard risk factors”. He accused UNSCEAR of using a 100 mSv threshold, which he claimed had “no scientific basis”. He never seemed to notice that even using his number of 3000 excess cancers, nuclear power is still much safer than fossil fuel, or renewables with fossil backup.

    It was worrisome that he did not seem interested in using Fukushima to test LNT. He was asked if Japan should match the Fukushima resident medical screening program with a control group. He said if you wanted to do science yes, but not if you were just trying to comfort people. He noted that screenings can cause harm from false positives and needless worry, but did not seem concerned about harm from his suggestion to put Fukushima residents on a government tracking list.

    One of the most surprising things he said was that 6% of cancer in the UK were due to natural background radiation, and that the lack of a measurable correlation between local background radiation levels and cancer rates was due to human adaption occurring within a few generations.

    Most of his critique of the report was a slightly boring list of complaints like lack of transparency and timeliness, and too many nuclear industry insiders on the committee. So it was actually a relief compared to the shrill and terrified warnings about radiation from less scientific anti-nuclear campaigners (like the German questioner).

  10. Talk about what people will say. I was arguing with anti-nukes on the Vermontdigger web site and look at this response
    Gary Sachs
    November 26, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Mr. Ratico,
    Entergy spent 80 million dollars suing the state of VT after its attorney promised that Entergy would not sue in federal court using the federal field pre-emption argument. Entergy did exactly that. Between that and the costs for the CPG’s and the fact that Entergy paid for Kathleen Sullivan, former dean of Stanford Univ. Law School. Meanwhile the state invested less than a million to fight Entergy in federal court. Most directly, Your line that … Governor Shumlin kept taking Entergy to court is absolutely not true. Check the record.
    To Mr. Clegg, I suppose he means the man found in the exhaust stack at the number one reactor at Fukushima, and the two men found floating in the basement of the number two reactor weeks later when humans could have sight entrance. I guess you forgot to get your facts correct also.
    Thanks Giving is every day.
    He was answering when I wrote 19000 people died because of the earthquake and tsunami no one died because of the Fukushima accident. i know about the two heart attacks But I never heard of anyone found in the exhaust stack .

    1. From the following link:

      “One worker also died at Fukushina Daini after suffering serious injuries and becoming trapped in the crane operating console of the exhaust stack of one of the units during the earthquake.”


      Sounds like an industrial accident that occurred during the earthquake. While unfortunate, it does not appear to be a nuclear related death. (other than occurring at a nuclear industrial facility.)

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