Listen to the science on climate change. Ignore the science on Fukushima.

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This week saw two reports issued under the auspices of the United Nations.

One re-iterated the science on climate change, the other informed us of our scientific knowledge of the impacts of Fukushima.

One has been received enthusiastically by environmentalists, the other has been completely ignored.

If you wish to find an example of the conflicting attitudes the environmental movement has to science here it is.

So, what has UNSCEAR, the United Nations scientific body that deals with the science of radiation, concluded about the health impacts of Fukushima?

Here is the relevant section from their report:

38. No radiation-related deaths or acute diseases have been observed among the workers and general public exposed to radiation from the accident.
39. The doses to the general public, both those incurred during the first year and estimated for their lifetimes, are generally low or very low. No discernible increased incidence of radiation-related health effects are expected among exposed members of the public or their descendants. The
most important health effect is on mental and social well-being, related to the enormous impact of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident, and the fear and stigma related to the perceived risk of exposure to ionizing
radiation. Effects such as depression and post-traumatic stress symptoms have already been reported. Estimation of the occurrence and severity of such health effects are outside the Committee’s remit.

The conclusion then is almost identical to that of Chernobyl: fear of radiation is a far greater danger than radiation itself. Scaremongering has its consequences.

Is it possible that some within the environmental movement might read this report and rethink the assumptions that underlie opposition to nuclear energy? If not, why should they demand that climate change “skeptics” be willing to change their minds?


5 thoughts on “Listen to the science on climate change. Ignore the science on Fukushima.

    James Thurber said:
    April 3, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    This is a very good example of the duplicity of much of the self-described environmental movement. Another example is the hysteria over the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, even though it has been well demonstrated that the impact of it on the climate would be inconsequential.


    jmdesp said:
    April 3, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Well I don’t know Robert, I remember you being upset at people saying there would be no radiation mortality from Fukushima, and claiming they were hurting the credibility of the pro-nuclear side.

    Strictly talking they should have been saying ”No discernible increased incidence” and not “no incidence”. And I agree it’s better to say this way. But the difference between the two is rhetorical, since claims should be falsifiable : if you affirm Fukushima has had some impact, then there should exist a method by which one could prove this to be wrong and instead it had none. But here UNSCEAR is saying there will be no way to show that.


      Robert Wilson said:
      April 3, 2014 at 6:11 pm

      I am not sure what you are referring to specifically. But the claim made by some pro-nuclear people that there will be “zero deaths” from Fukushima is misguided from almost every angle. It is not justified scientifically and it shows that many people know very little about risk perception.

      But I don’t think I can change how they choose to communicate.


    Donough Shanahan said:
    April 4, 2014 at 7:47 am

    I will add that the caveat for the public data is the exclusion zone. It would be interesting to note what happened to say wildlife inside this zone as I do not thin the worker population is large enough




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