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Thu Mar 11, 2021, 05:05 PM

Nature Editorial Drags Out the Usual Rote Selective Attention.

It's um, disappointing in the extreme to hear this editorial stuff trotted out, in one of the world's most prestigious scientific journals.

Nuclear technology’s role in the world’s energy supply is shrinking

Some excerpts and comments:

“It is not enough to take this weapon out of the hands of the soldiers. It must be put into the hands of those who will know how to strip its military casing and adapt it to the arts of peace.”

These stirring words, spoken in 1953 by then US president Dwight Eisenhower, are worth recalling as the world marks the anniversaries of two devastating tragedies involving nuclear technology: the Fukushima disaster in Japan on 11 March 2011, and the catastrophic accident at Chernobyl in what is now Ukraine on 26 April 1986.

In Japan, some 19,300 lives were lost as a result of an earthquake that occurred off the island of Honshu and the tsunami that followed. The tsunami also swept over the protective sea wall around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and the subsequent flooding led to the partial meltdown of three reactor cores, causing fires and explosions. Twenty-five years earlier, human error resulted in a meltdown at the Chernobyl site, blowing the roof off a nuclear reactor and releasing radiation across Europe...

This is very misleading syntax. The 19,300 lives lost in the Fukushima event were not lost to radiation, but to seawater. (More than 200,000 lives were lost to seawater in the SE Asian Tsunami but the editorial doesn't question the viability of coastal cities, particularly in the era where climate change is not being addressed at all. The number of deaths from radiation at Fukushima is exceedingly small, if measurable at all. It is notable - and reported in various contexts in Nature and notably in Lancet that air pollution kills as many people every one to two days as died from seawater at Fukushima. In fact, air pollution kills more people every day that Covid-19 killed on its worst day worldwide.

In addition to the deaths and health risks, the cost of the damages caused by Chernobyl is thought to exceed US$200 billion, and the Japan Center for Economic Research estimates the costs of decontaminating the Fukushima site to be between $470 billion and $660 billion. In the wake of the disaster, 12 of Japan’s reactors have been permanently shut; a further 24 remain closed pending ongoing safety reviews, which are adding to the costs.

This statement is also disingenuous. There is no reference whatsoever to the standards to which the "decontamination" of Fukushima will be held, nor to the number of lives that would be saved by completing it to the standard implied. Far worse of course is there is no financial comparison to the putative cost of "decontaminating" the planetary atmosphere of the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide, or "restoring" areas destroyed by excessive heatwaves, natural disasters brought on by climate change.

Might it not be true that rather than spending $660 billion to "decontaminate" Fukushima to save - how many lives exactly from radiation - that we actually spent the same money eliminating air pollution? Which activity would save more lives?

And then there's this precious bit on nonsense that I've been hearing for half a century:

By contrast, although renewable-energy technologies are still in their relative infancy, their costs are falling and their regulation is much more straightforward. This is important: the technology used to turn on lights or charge mobile phones shouldn’t need to involve national or international defence apparatus.

Clearly, nuclear energy will be with us for some time. New plants are being built and older ones will take time to decommission. But it is not proving to be the solution it was once seen as for decarbonizing the world’s energy market. Nuclear power has benefits, but its continued low take-up indicates that some countries think these are outweighed by the risks. For others, the development of nuclear energy is unaffordable. If the world is to achieve net zero carbon emissions, the focus must be on renewable energies — and one of their greatest benefits is that their sources are available, freely, to all nations.

If so called "renewable energy" is "freely available" how come we just spent three trillion dollars in this century on solar and wind energy producing no other result than an accelerating decay of the planetary atmosphere? There's nothing fucking "free" about it, spending more than the GDP of India on a technology that has done nothing to address climate change.

If so called "renewable energy" is in its infancy, why am I not also in my infancy? The solar cell was invented in 1954.

Bell Labs Photovoltaics (Other ads about the solar future described in the 1950's can be found at this link.)

As of 2021, almost 70 years after the invention of the solar cell, they don't produce 2% of the world's energy, now exceeding 600 exajoules per year.

This week, carbon dioxide concentrations measured at the Mauna Loa have been running at around 418 ppm, around 25 ppm higher than 10 years ago.

That's um, data, on how successful our "freely available" so called "renewable energy" is doing at addressing climate change. Despite world wide enthusiasm for "freely available" so called "renewable energy" the use of dangerous fossil fuels and the accumulation of dangerous fossil fuel waste - including but hardly limited to carbon dioxide - is rising at the fastest rate ever observed.

Really, this is appallingly bad thinking from the editorial staff of one of the world's premier scientific journals, almost at the level of criminality.

It is, to say the least, beyond disappointing. It's at the level of embarrassing stupidity, and surely involves selective attention, in the scientific field known as "selection bias" or "selection pressure."

In other news, over at Science here is an article (open sourced I believe) on the unexpected health consequences of Fukushima:

This physician has studied the Fukushima disaster for a decade—and found a surprising health threat

It would seem that the fear of radiation clearly and unambiguously kills more people than industrial radiation does.

One evening in June 2011, Masaharu Tsubokura went to bed and found he couldn’t close his left eye. His face was paralyzed, and for a few weeks the doctor who had spent months counseling residents displaced by a massive nuclear disaster was himself a patient.

The paralysis was temporary. But the stress that caused it has been a constant in Tsubokura’s life since he volunteered in Japan’s Fukushima prefecture, days after the triple catastrophe that rocked it on 11 March 2011: a magnitude 9 earthquake, a tsunami that rose up to 40 meters, and multiple meltdowns and explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. What was meant to be a short volunteer stint giving health checks to evacuees became a career that has lasted 10 years and counting.

In the months after the disaster, Tsubokura moved from routine medicine to measuring radiation exposure. He became adept at explaining radiation basics and risks to residents and officials. “He spent a huge amount of time in town hall meetings, lectures, and dialogues with local people, which made him respected and trusted,” says Kenji Shibuya, a global health scholar at King’s College London who collaborated with him. And Tsubokura soon reached a controversial conclusion: The evacuation had a far bigger impact on health than the radiation. “No one died of radiation,” he says, whereas uprooting tens of thousands of people caused clear social and health problems.

Early on, Tsubokura did his best to allay fears among evacuees and residents living just outside the evacuation zone. Many people welcomed his reassurances, though some accused him of being an apologist for the power company and the government. But the physician, now 39, persisted.

“Many people would have left and said, ‘OK, I tried my best,’” says Gilles Hériard-Dubreuil, a Paris-based consultant involved in community rehabilitation in Belarus after the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident in Ukraine in 1986. It’s a sign of Tsubokura’s courage and humanity, he says, “that he maintained his presence and he faced the adversity.”

Splitting his time between jobs at hospitals in Tokyo and Fukushima, Tsubokura accumulated data that would put the risks in perspective. In more than 140 papers, he and colleagues have documented the relatively low radiation exposure of Fukushima residents and the health impacts of the evacuation—a high death toll among the elderly, increases in chronic diseases, and a decline in general well-being...

Have a nice evening.

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