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Mon Feb 25, 2013, 06:03 PM

In This Nuclear World, What Is the Meaning of "Safe"?

In This Nuclear World, What Is the Meaning of "Safe"?
Friday 18 March 2011
by: Barbara Rose Johnson | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists | Report

In a nuclear crisis, life becomes a nightmare for those people trying to make sense of the uncertainties. Imaginably, the questions are endless.

Radiation is invisible, how do you know when you are in danger?
How long will this danger persist?
How can you reduce the hazard to yourself and family?
What level of exposure is safe?
How do you get access to vital information in time to prevent or minimize exposure?
What are the potential risks of acute and chronic exposures?
What are the related consequential damages of exposure?
Whose information do you trust?
How do you rebuild a healthy way of life in the aftermath of nuclear disaster?


And the list of unknowns goes on.

These questions are difficult to answer in the chaos and context of an ongoing disaster, and they become even more complicated by the fact that governments and the nuclear industry maintain tight control of information, operations, scientific research, and the biomedical lessons that shape public-health response.

This regulation of information has been the case since the nuclear age began, and understanding this helps to illuminate why there is no clear consensus on what Japan's nuclear disaster means in terms of local and global human health.

Nuclear secrecy in context

<snip>

Japan's nuclear disaster demonstrates in powerful and poignant terms the degree to which the state prioritizes security interests over the fundamental rights of people and their environment. Japan's response to its nuclear disaster -- similar to other government responses to catastrophic events like Katrina and Chernobyl -- has struggled to control the content and flow of information to prevent wide panic (and the related loss of trust in government), reduce liability, and protect nuclear and other industry agendas....


http://archive.truthout.org/in-this-nuclear-world-what-meaning-safe68620

17 replies, 2080 views

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Arrow 17 replies Author Time Post
Reply In This Nuclear World, What Is the Meaning of "Safe"? (Original post)
kristopher Feb 2013 OP
RobertEarl Feb 2013 #1
XemaSab Feb 2013 #2
kristopher Feb 2013 #15
GliderGuider Feb 2013 #3
kristopher Feb 2013 #4
GliderGuider Feb 2013 #5
kristopher Feb 2013 #6
GliderGuider Feb 2013 #7
kristopher Feb 2013 #9
GliderGuider Feb 2013 #11
kristopher Feb 2013 #12
GliderGuider Feb 2013 #13
kristopher Feb 2013 #14
GliderGuider Mar 2013 #16
FBaggins Mar 2013 #17
RobertEarl Feb 2013 #8
RobertEarl Feb 2013 #10

Response to kristopher (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:31 AM

1. Kris, the gig is up, man. Pam has exposed us.

I posted this in that Meta thread just a few minutes ago. And figured I best tell you that it's over. Hey, it was fun, right? Scaring everybody about radiation. We done good tho. Here's the post, verbatim:

Damn, Pam, You got us figured out!


Of course there is nothing to worry about when nuke plants blow to smithereens like Fukushima. Never was.

We crazy anti-nukes were just laughing our asses off. We caused the nuke industry to take all those expensive measures to control radiation. We cost them big big bucks.

Bwahahaha! We are such evil bastards. It's our fault all those people have been evacuated from around Chernobyl and Fukushima. We are the reason why the US Navy turned and ran from Fukushima. All because we scared them! The EPA was on to us tho... they shut down all the air monitors and that kept us from scaring even mo' better.

You got us Pam. We have been discovered. We have been lying all this time, We almost had people convinced radiation will mess up their day.

Damn, thwarted. Next thing you know it will be revealed that nuke dirty bombs were just a scare tactic invented by us to make money. You will be the nuke industry hero when all this makes the news.

Puke icon goes here >>>>>

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Response to RobertEarl (Reply #1)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 01:28 AM

2. Please keep the call-outs confined to Meta

Thanks.

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Response to XemaSab (Reply #2)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 04:59 PM

15. That is to be criticized, true.

But why is this being tolerated?

http://www.democraticunderground.com/112737439#post8

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Response to kristopher (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 11:35 AM

3. In This Fossil Fueled World, What Is the Meaning of "Safe"?

In a climate crisis, life becomes a nightmare for those people trying to make sense of the uncertainties. Imaginably, the questions are endless.
  1. Carbon dioxide is invisible, how do you know when you are in danger?
    You are in danger if the CO2 reading at Mauna Loa goes overs over 280 ppmv.

  2. How long will this danger persist?
    Because the atmospheric half-life of CO2 is about 300 years, you should expect the danger to last about 10,000 to 50,000 years.

  3. How can you reduce the hazard to yourself and family?
    When you hear of elevated CO2 concentrations in your area, immediately pull over to the side of the road and stop driving until the concentration returns below 280 ppmv. In addition, reduce your family's requirement for food by between 50% and 100%.

  4. What level of exposure is safe?
    No level of exposure to CO2 concentrations over 280 ppmv is known to be safe.

  5. How do you get access to vital information in time to prevent or minimize exposure?
    Consult NOAA, CDIAC and your nearest V2G association.

  6. What are the potential risks of acute and chronic exposures?
    Potential risks include malnutrition, dehydration,famine, food riots and waves of refugees.

  7. What are the related consequential damages of exposure?
    The most likely consequential damages are national, regional and/or global economic collapse, accompanied by the breakdown of essential services such as electricity delivery, sanitation and medical care. In an extreme case, the death of your civilization may become a possibility.

  8. Whose information do you trust?
    Trust no one - especially not spokesmen for any branch of the energy industry, which includes your Federal Government.

  9. How do you rebuild a healthy way of life in the aftermath of climate disaster?
    You may not be able to. The best way to deal with it is to have a strong community network and no children.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #3)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 02:25 PM

4. Too bad you choose to belittle such a thoughtful balanced piece.

Especially since the parody has no sort of underlying coherent message. I suppose you are trying to play on the idea that climate change is a more significant threat than nuclear power, but since the OP article isn't oriented towards a call for shutting down nuclear power, that attempt falls pretty flat.


There is one thing I find ironic. The economic role of nuclear power in the perpetuation of the fossil fuel system you rightly decry is as well established and unequivocal as the rise of GHGs and its attendant consequences.

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Response to kristopher (Reply #4)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 02:44 PM

5. I have nothing against shutting down nukes.

Just let's all keep our eye on the ball in the process. We needed to be shutting down all fossil fuel use by last Thursday or before.
Or we can accept the consequences of not doing that...

Too bad that the global cultural infrastructure is powered 87% by fossil fuel, isn't it? That makes it kind of hard to do anything about it before the climate shit hits the fan - probabilistically speaking, of course.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #5)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 07:31 PM

6. We are able to deal with more than one issue at a time

The existence of the climate change problem doesn't negate the existence of other problems nor the need to deal with other problems.

It is textbook nuclear proponent arguing style to try to use climate change as a trump to derail any consideration of the problems associated with nuclear.

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Response to kristopher (Reply #6)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 07:55 PM

7. Why aren't you, then?

CO2 is at 397.11 ppmv and there is no sign that that anything's being done about it. You're making progress in slowing down the nuclear perambulator, but not the fossil fuel juggernaut.

It's as though somebody in the FF industry had the bright idea to help focus the world's activist attention and energy onto the soft target of nuclear power, and by doing so take the heat off themselves. You may have been duped, you know - they are old hands at tactics like that. They probably counted on your self-righteousness about the anti-nuclear cause to blind you to the maneuver - and they were right.

You brag about being able to walk and chew gum at the same time. Let's see some fucking evidence of it. So far you've only achieved visible progress on one front - nuclear power. I think that's all the strength "the movement" has, quite frankly. You can take down a staggering, weakened opponent who is helping you along with their own stupidity and greed. Against the big boys you're swinging impotently in the dark, out-muscled and out-maneuvered at every turn.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #7)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:27 PM

9. Finally admitting your hidden agenda again...

Whether you want to admit it or not, nuclear power is playing a key role in preserving the existence of the fossil fuel economy. The degree of public action by you and your fellow nuclear advocates in spreading misinformation about the potential for renewables to solve the climate and energy problems dwarfs the efforts of the fossil fuel industry. Everywhere you go, in every venue where the problem is discussed you have two groups who obstruct public acceptance of the recognized solution to these problems - climate change deniers and nuclear power advocates. In spite of their campaign to greenwash nuclear power by capitalizing on its low carbon profile to align it with renewables, the fact is the economics of nuclear do no work in a system built on distributed generation and that industry knows it. Therefore it takes every possible opportunity to sabotage the transition to distributed generation - the UK is the latest case in point. The propaganda associated with the German transition is another.

Renewables are making far more rapid progress than we could have possibly hoped. We can do better, but one of the barriers we have to surmount in order to do so is the massive public social media propaganda campaign organized by the industry utilizing the members of the various "professional" nuclear industry organizations such as the American Nuclear Society.

When I first turned my attention to the renewable naysayers populating the public debate around solutions to climate change, I entered with the assumption that the villains were rooted in support for fossil fuels. I was soon to learn however, that the role played by fossil fuel interests is largely confined to the political sphere and churning out nonsense by think tanks. I was surprised to learn that far more actual damage is being done by the coordinated lies of the nuclear industry in social media.

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Response to kristopher (Reply #9)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:16 PM

11. I give up.

What degree of paranoia does it take to twist my words into some cockamamie nuclear conspiracy theory? Do you really not recognize honest criticism or discussion as such any more? Is every statement anyone makes fed through some Manichean re-interpretation circuit in your brain that spits out only "with-us-or-agin-us" assessments?

This is classic paranoid behaviour. You might want to consider doing something about it - I can't imagine how much that could hobble one's personal interactions IRL.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #11)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:32 PM

12. Answer one question -

Where do you make comparable posts undermining the message behind the constant litany of anti-renewable posts?

When you routinely align yourself with one side of an issue, it is reasonable to assume that is what you believe.

As for twisting your words "into some cockamamie nuclear conspiracy theory", that simply didn't happen. The antirenewable campaign by nuclear power advocates is as well documented as any event in todays political or economic landscape.

See the OP and post 19 at this link:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=115&topic_id=316695&mesg_id=316695

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Response to kristopher (Reply #12)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 11:43 PM

13. My position is that the world faces one clear and present danger. Fossil fuels.

You want to attack that problem indirectly, by shutting down nuclear power and ramping up renewables. Fine, except that this is not doing squat (yet) to reduce the world's use of fossil fuels. The shutdown of nuclear power is, I suppose, intended to clear a path for the replacement of both nuclear and fossil power by wind and solar. Which is fine by me. I just have a couple of issues with the whole project.

First is the time line. The "economic replacement" concept in which renewables eventually out-compete both nuclear and FF in the marketplace (with some regulatory help to smooth the path) is a very long term project. The world is using 14.6 TW of fossil fuel primary energy, and our consumption is climbing by .33 TW every year.

In order to stop the further accumulation of CO2, renewables will potentially have to replace 14.6 TW of fossil fuels (plus of course the picayune 0.3 TW of nuclear power) and then match the FF demand growth of 0.33 TW/year. Maybe it will be less, but the same uncertainty applies to the growth of renewables.

This is optimistically a 40 year project. But we are already melting the Arctic ice cap, the weather is going pear-shaped around the globe, and we may be in the process of detonating the methane bomb - so waiting 40 more years is an understandably painful prospect.

The second issue that I've never seen addressed by anything beyond "Trust in God and Adam Smith" is the possibility that all this renewable power won't in fact displace FF but will simply add to it. That's what Odum's Maximum Power Principle and Harris' infrastructural determinism, not to mention Swenson's Maximum Entropy Law all suggest is a probable outcome.

So in the face of that I'd like to see FF take a direct assault by environmentalist forces. Not some back-door "efficiency program" that simply allows spared money to be re-allocated to other parts of the world economy, but an attempt to actually reduce the things humanity does with fossil fuels. I'd like to see that done IN ADDITION TO killing nuclear power and ramping up fossil fuels. It's the key part of the puzzle I think is missing, and if we don't find it, we will not have 40 years, or a prayer.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #13)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 11:47 PM

14. Yes I've heard that before - now please answer the question I asked. nt

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Response to kristopher (Reply #14)

Fri Mar 1, 2013, 12:12 PM

16. My answer

Most of the anti-renewable posts here address technical aspects of renewable energy I simply don't care about any more. They typically do not address the issues I have come to understand as being central to the entire human relationship to energy: the fact that energy enables growth, and the high probability that all new sources will tend to be additive rather than "displacive".

I don't argue for or against any particular non-fossil technologies much anymore. This is because I don't think that's the real issue as far as the future for life on this planet is concerned. Regardless of their relative merits and demerits, non-fossil technologies of all kinds do nothing to address what I see as the core problem, which in its baldest form is "human growth in all its dimensions".

I'm frankly no longer convinced that the core problem is addressable. But whether it is or not, simply introducing more energy from different sources does not move us in that direction. For that reason, neither fossil fuels nor any of the proposed alternatives have my support.

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Response to kristopher (Reply #4)

Fri Mar 1, 2013, 12:40 PM

17. That's your idea of a thoughtful balanced piece?

Why don't you go back to your original source and read the first 2-3 paragraphs that you "snip"ed... then tell us again whether you think this is someone who knows what she's talking about.

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Response to kristopher (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 08:31 PM

8. There is no 'safe' exposure to radiation

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/opinion/51585989-82/nuclear-radiation-scientists-bullets.html.csp

There is no 'safe' exposure to radiation

Bioaccumulation is one reason why it is dishonest to equate the danger to humans living 5,000 miles away from Japan with the minute concentrations measured in our air. If we tried, we would now likely be able to measure radioactive iodine, cesium, and strontium bioaccumulating in human embryos in this country. Pregnant women, are you OK with that?

Hermann Mueller, another Nobel Prize winner, is one of many scientists who would not have been OK with that. In a 1964 study, "Radiation and Heredity", Mueller spelled out the genetic damage of ionizing radiation on humans. He predicted the gradual reduction of the survival of the human species as exposure to radioactivity steadily increased. Indeed, sperm counts, sperm viability and fertility rates worldwide have been dropping for decades.

These scientists and their warnings have never been disproven, but they are currently widely ignored. Their message is very clear: Virtually every human on Earth carries the nuclear legacy, a genetic footprint contaminated by the Cold War, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, the 400-plus nuclear power plants that have not melted down and now Fukushima.

Albert Einstein said, "The splitting of the atom changed everything, save man's mode of thinking; thus we drift towards unparalleled catastrophe."

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Response to RobertEarl (Reply #8)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:46 PM

10. Sorry, meant to post this instead

http://archive.truthout.org/in-this-nuclear-world-what-meaning-safe68620

But what does this mean? From this record of studied and lived experience, there are a few things that we know. For example, fallout and the movement of radionuclides through marine and terrestrial environments ultimately get into the food chain and the human body. The toxicity of contaminants and radioactivity in fallout represent significant health risks. Acute exposures are further complicated when followed by chronic exposure, as such assaults have a cumulative and synergistic effect on health and well-being. Chronic exposure to fallout does more than increase the risk of developing cancers, it threatens the immune system, can exacerbate pre-existing conditions, affects fertility, increases rates of birth defects, and can retard physical and mental development, among other things. And we know the effects of such exposures can last for generations.

Japan's nuclear disaster demonstrates in powerful and poignant terms the degree to which the state prioritizes security interests over the fundamental rights of people and their environment. Japan's response to its nuclear disaster -- similar to other government responses to catastrophic events like Katrina and Chernobyl -- has struggled to control the content and flow of information to prevent wide panic (and the related loss of trust in government), reduce liability, and protect nuclear and other industry agendas.

*****************

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