I regret asking the question


I should have known I wouldn’t like the answer. I asked, What kind of ridiculous poison will they ingest next to avoid a simple vaccination?. I already got one answer. Uranium mine offers radiation treatment.

Americans are flocking to defunct uranium mines in Montana for what many believe is a fountain of youth gushing with radioactive gas in defiance of the advice of health officials.

Among them is Brian Tichenor, who drives 1,200 miles each way from his home in Kansas twice a year to breathe and bathe in radon in the hope of reducing the pain from an eye condition.

I’m going to slap myself for asking stupid questions.

Comments

  1. felixmagister says

    After being bitten by an irradiated idiot, Peter Parker gained the proportional….. what super powers do you think are appropriate here?

  2. PaulBC says

    Ray Ceeya@2 I have the ability to answer* any question posed to me in any scientific field.

    *I did not say the answer would be correct.

  3. dorght says

    How do they sell this? Surely that can’t be advertising it for its health benefits.
    On the other hand the error bars on lower levels of radiation exposure’s health effects are huge because the sample size with measured exposure is so small. It is a very good thing the sample size is small. So sign these people up for study, increase the sample size, rational thought by voluntary participants need not be in evidence.

  4. davidc1 says

    Oh my dog ,batshitcrazy wackaloons with superpowers ,run ,run for your lives .
    While we are one the subject of batshitcrazy wackaloons .I see another conservative radio host has died of ———–,after saying
    ———– was a ———– ..Fill in the blanks yourselves .
    This one was a real charmer ,Bob Enyart .He used to mock people who died from AIDS by playing Another One Bites The Dust ,on his radio show .

  5. Snarki, child of Loki says

    That “uranium mine air” is only for the wimps that won’t drink the Radium Water.

    …and then there are the ones that bathe in the reactor pool, soaking in that beautiful blue glow.

  6. KG says

    What?!? You mean magnets aren’t powered by tiny pixies dancing in circles? – Ray Seeya@4

    Of course not! Kepler proved they dance in ellipses!

  7. consciousness razor says

    Kepler proved they dance in ellipses!

    Well actually, it’s way more complicated and chaotic, whenever you get more than two of the tiny pixies dancing together. And of course, as everybody knows, you’ll almost never find only one or two doing the electric slide; it’s always a big crowd, because this world is cursed.

  8. stroppy says

    dorght @5

    How do they sell this? Surely that can’t be advertising it for its health benefits.

    Why not? The history of quackery is replete with weird, ignorant, and superstitious practices that can include things like electricity, magnetism, and no doubt radiation. After all radiation and toxic chemicals can cure cancer, it’s just that those smarty-pants egg-head science doctors make everything too complicated. They just don’t know how to use common, down-to-earth sense like master Trump.

  9. says

    This is going to be fun, it will last exactly long enough for somebody rich enough to afford a lawyer to get diagnosed with cancer after visiting. (The same way the Radium Girls didn’t shut down the use of radiation last time, it was the death of Eben Byers, banking magnate, that got the laws changed.)

    After being bitten by a radioactive man, janitor Drake Welton developed the proportional strength, agility, and speed of the average man. Now he defends the city… as Man-Man!

  10. robro says

    From Wikipedia: “Radon has been considered the second leading cause of lung cancer and leading environmental cause of cancer mortality by the EPA, with the first one being smoking. Others have reached similar conclusions for the United Kingdom and France.”

    The stupid pandemic is bigger than COVID, and there’s no treatment for it.

  11. PaulBC says

    Vicar@11 I was just about to post about https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eben_Byers There was an article I read about him a long time ago, probably in Scientific American. He drank and endorsed a patent medicine based on radium and got cancer. I would have thought we’ve come a long way in understanding since then, but maybe not.

  12. brucej says

    Well, honestly, given the lag between radiation exposure and cancer, someone at 67 is probably unlikely to live long enough to die of lung cancer, at least lung cancer from radon, especially if they’re gullible enough for this.

    Also, radon is a very prevalent cause of lung cancer because it’s environmentally present in large swathes of the US; the people getting cancer from it are exposed for decades at a time via it infiltrating their homes.

    A non-completely paywalled version of the story (the Times requires me to subscribe to read more than the first para.) https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/radon-treatment-mine-radiation-covid/2021/08/06/2bcf9ebc-f08f-11eb-81d2-ffae0f931b8f_story.html (Incognito browser windows are youre friends…endless ‘limited free access’)

  13. says

    davidc1@6

    A Clarence Darrow quote seems appropriate:

    I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction.

  14. says

    @#13, PaulBC:

    It was Radithor.

    Eben Byers was an athletic socialite, inheritor of an iron foundry and member of the board of a bank in Pittsburgh. One night he fell out of bed in a railway sleeper car while drunk, injuring his arm. When it wouldn’t heal, a doctor recommended Radithor, and he started drinking it. Over a period of 5 years, he drank — by his own estimate — over a thousand bottles. He developed the same horrifying symptoms as the Radium Girls had 15-20 years earlier, except that he was a wealthy upper-class banker where they were mere factory workers. (Also, he was so vain that when he started wasting away and losing his looks he went into hiding, which wasn’t really an option for them, so when he died — weighing only 92 pounds and as radioactive as Marie Curie — many people who knew him were surprised, and since it was the Depression a lot of people assumed he had lost all his money or that the bank had failed.) It was the case which first gave the FDA serious regulatory powers, although it had existed for decades as an advisory organization.

    (We are told that the dangers of radioactivity weren’t known until much later, but that is obviously false. Marie Curie was twice presented, with great fanfare, with samples of radium by — in effect — crowd-funding organizations in the US, the first time in 1921 and the second in 1929. Curie was famously incautious about radioactive substances, but both times, the sample was given in a massive lead-lined box weighing over 100 pounds. Somebody definitely knew something at least as early as 1921.)

    The story of Byers is told in a bit more detail in the excellent book The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum, but ironically not in the chapter on radium, because the book is chronological and radium was known to be dangerous, by anybody paying close attention, from the Radium Girls case, years before Byers even started drinking Radithor or Curie got her first gram of crowdfunded radium from the US. (The subtitle is misleading; as the book itself points out forensic medicine existed before the Jazz Age, and was considerably more advanced in Europe than in the US. The book is primarily about the first New York Coroner to take his job seriously and his genius chemist employee, who revolutionized New York forensic medicine and developed vastly improved tests — and sometimes the only tests — for a number of poisons.)

  15. Rich Woods says

    Finally — finally! — I will be able to make my millions by selling the uniquely reliable N-rays cure.

  16. Marissa van Eck says

    There are no stupid questions, only stupid people (who are the reason these questions were asked).

  17. whheydt says

    Re: Snarki @ #7…
    I’m afraid this is going to be a bit long…

    Back in the late 1960s, there was a research reactor on the UC Berkeley campus (it was later used to do the neutron activivation for Alvarez, Alvarez, Aasaro, and Michels paper on the K-T boundary). It was underground, adjacent to the building that housed to Nuclear Engineering department. Directly over the reactor was…an olive tree.

    I got a tour of the facility as an engineering student at the time. We were told that, the week before we were there, the reactor had been shut down to check the current state of the core rods and some of the staff had gone swimming in the reactor pool to do that. They also said that the next time they needed to do that, they were going to shut down the cooling for a while beforehand because the water was extremely cold.

    So, yes, there are serious reasons to go swimming in an open reactor pool (though not when running it at any sort of load).

  18. newzea says

    I wish I was young again. I would go into the quack medicine business. Guaranteed to make me a fortune.

  19. garnetstar says

    Oh, NO! People who have naturally higher levels of radon accumlulation in their cellars (it rises up out of the ground) put in ventilation systems to lower the concentration and so avoid breathing it.

    I am sorry to say that inhaling radon is much more dangerous that ingesting it, and that even the slightly highe-than-ordinary levels that can accumulate in a cellar cause the lung cancer. The levels you can inhale by going to a rich source of the gas and deliberately breathing it, even twice a year, even once and once only, may cause cancer and other illnesses to develop very soon.

    While the major health problem is the continuing radioactive decay of radon and its daughter products, those daughter products can include lead, mercury, thallium, and bismuth, all of which are acute toxins. So, if cancer doesn’t get you, those will.

    What’s next, cyanide? I wouldn’t put anything past these people at this point. At least, it would be correct to say that cyanide kills COVID virus, because after you die, the virus in you will die too.

  20. mandrake says

    I see an enormous money-making opportunity here: Eco-tourism for science denying wack-a-loons. Destinations: Any and all toxic land fills, EPA super fund sites, spent nuclear-fuel dumps, Chernobyl…

  21. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    I am sorry to say that inhaling radon is much more dangerous that ingesting it, and that even the slightly highe-than-ordinary levels that can accumulate in a cellar cause the lung cancer.

    Nonsense.

    https://jnm.snmjournals.org/content/jnumed/30/6/987.full.pdf

    Studies by Bernard L. Cohen, professor of physics and radiation health at the University of Pittsburgh, demonstrated a discrepancy between the data and the linear no threshold theory of radiation carcinogenesis, even when many confounding factors are considered. Dr. Cohen told seminar attendees, “The lung cancer rates in counties and states tend strongly to decrease as the average radon levels increase. The effect is statistically unquestionable by many, many standard deviations. This is in sharp contrast to the predictions of the linear no threshold theory that lung cancer rates should increase substantially as average radon levels increase.”

    In a paper on this work to be published by the Pennsylvania Academy of Sciences in a book on radon sometime in late 1989, Dr. Cohen wrote ofan analysis to account for smokingby reviewingthe data by states, in which there is data on cigarette sales from tax collection, “Evenwhen all ofthe other potential socioeconomic confounding factors are included, the discrepancy with [the no threshold] theory is not substantially reduced; in fact it is reducedby less thanwas the case for counties, where smoking was not included in the regression.”

    PS:

    See also:

    https://news.mit.edu/2012/prolonged-radiation-exposure-0515

    The study, led by Bevin Engelward and Jacquelyn Yanch and published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that when mice were exposed to radiation doses about 400 times greater than background levels for five weeks, no DNA damage could be detected.

    […]

    This paper shows that you could go 400 times higher than average background levels and you’re still not detecting genetic damage.

  22. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    Vicar
    “Contrarian”? You just have preconceived dogmas of what is actually true, and you’re unwilling to entertain the possibility that you might be wrong. The truth is that this anti-nuclear hysteria that grips much of the world is simply based on lies – wild exaggerations of the truth? What else do you call it when even LNT analysis say that you’re a bugger health risk from air pollution from living in a big city compared to the excess cancer death risk from being part of the most exposed cohort (250 mSv) of the Chernobyl liquidators.

  23. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    Source:
    https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2458-7-49
    Ex:

    The increased mortality rate of the populations most affected by the Chernobyl accident may be comparable to (and possibly lower than) risks from elevated exposure to air pollution or environmental tobacco smoke. It is probably surprising to many (not least the affected populations themselves) that people still living unofficially in the abandoned lands around Chernobyl may actually have a lower health risk from radiation than they would have if they were exposed to the air pollution health risk in a large city such as nearby Kiev.

  24. John Morales says

    [OT]

    Gerrard, had you more nous, you’d have noted how mining and burning coal collectively emits far more radioactive shit into the environment than nuclear plants (well, those which didn’t have, um, incidents) ever do. Instead, you go on about how radon is not that bad.

    Why you think it’s some sort of zero-sum game for the prospects of nuclear vs renewables, I know. Don’t agree, but I know. I also know it confuses your perceptions.

    For one thing, you’ve locked yourself into this narrative that anyone for renewables is perforce against nuclear, and so due to that your rhetorical focus is against renewables much more so than against fossil fuels. It’s quite evident.

    Anyway, I don’t think you’re a contrarian at all. Ideologue, yes, but contrarian, no.

    Also, I’m vaguely amused by garnetstar @24 (“I am sorry to say that inhaling radon is much more dangerous that ingesting it”), because radon is a gas.

    (Generously, I suppose one could somehow condense radon into something edible instead of inhalable)

  25. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    Re not contrarian.
    Thanks.

    Re “ideologue”.
    First definition I found is: “an adherent of an ideology, especially one who is uncompromising and dogmatic.”. I’m not dogmatic. Let me again clearly that I try very hard to find counter arguments, and I try very hard to prove myself wrong. I try very hard to recognize when a conversational “opponent” is correct and I’ll admit that. I just think that the evidence clearly indicates that 99% of people vastly overestimate the dangers of radiation, and vastly underestimate the difficulties of integrating solar and wind into a working grid, and vastly overestimate the possibilities of other renewables to powering the world. If I’m an ideologue for agreeing with people like Dr James Hansen, Dr Ken Caldeira, and Dr Kerry Emanuel, then meh.

    Re radiation content in coal ash
    I could use that argument. That is a good argument. I think it has its place. However, this avoids the fundamental error. By mentioning the radioactive stuff in coal ash, it feeds the delusion, the fundamental error, that any amount of artificial radiation, no matter how little and no matter how diluted, is going to cause cancer or the apocalypse or something. It’s simply not true, but like 99% of people apparently believe that it is. The plain facts are that low-level chronic radiation is harmless, and most of the time when we’re discussing the so-called dangers of nuclear power, it’s only this kind of harmless low-level chronic radiation. Most of the time we are not discussing larger doses like the larger and harmful (but still relatively small) 250 mSv acute dose that some of the Chernobyl liquidators received. Instead, most of the time when we’re discussing nuclear power, we’re discussing chronic doses like 10 mSv / year (which is almost certainly absolutely harmless), and we’re often discussion radiation exposures that are far smaller.

    To put this another way, did we stop manufacturing pesticides after the Bhopal disaster? No. In many ways, the real negative human health effects of the Bhopal disaster are comparable to the Chernobyl disaster. In some ways, the Bhopal disaster was worse. I think it would be ridiculous to demonize pesticides and pesticide manufacturing plants because of Bhopal to the extent that we have Chernobyl, but that’s what we do for nuclear because of Chernobyl. It’s absolutely mystifying to me why this delusion remains so firm in so much of the public.

    Once we get over this entirely misplaced fear of radioactive waste disposal and mostly misplaced fear of nuclear power plant accidents, then IMO there’s not much left in the way of just building these things to enable us to fix climate change.

    PS: I’ve heard it argued that for many people, what this is really about is the connection to nuclear weapons, and it’s basically psychological displacement, e.g. scapegoating, the fear of nuclear weapons onto nuclear power. But unfortunately that ship has sailed long ago. You could kill every nuclear engineer, every physicist, everyone with (advanced) knowledge of atomic physics, and we would still have nuclear weapons in the world. They’re not going away. While some of the engineering and infrastructure aspects to getting a nuclear weapon are challenging, the fundamental conceptual ideas behind a nuclear weapon are so simple that anyone can make one, such as North Korea, the most sanctioned and isolated regime on the planet. If North Korea can build a nuclear weapon, anyone can build a nuclear weapon, and trying to stop the spread of nuclear power is going to do damn near little to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.

    If we want to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, one of the best ways to do so is for the US to step up as a major exporter of nuclear power technology but with the condition that the recipient country must agree to the non-proliferation treaty and agree to IAEA safeguards and inspections. Better for the US to do that compared to Russia, China, or Pakistan, who appear to have far less worries about the spread of nuclear weapons.

  26. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    For one thing, you’ve locked yourself into this narrative that anyone for renewables is perforce against nuclear, and so due to that your rhetorical focus is against renewables much more so than against fossil fuels. It’s quite evident.

    I’m just attacking my biggest enemy, which is not fossil fuel people. It’s the anti-nuclear Greens. The anti-nuclear Greens are the biggest obstacle by far for fixing climate change, and raising billions out of poverty, and stopping the holocaust of 7 million dead each year from mundane boring air pollution.

    And again, Dr James Hansen and Dr Kerry Emanuel largely agree with this assessment, along with probably many other climate scientists.

    In other words, I can sell nuclear power to American Republicans on lots of measures. Better air. No need for foreign wars for oil. It’s cheaper. However, I can’t sell nuclear power to Greens because Greens would rather build a new coal power plant than keep an existing nuclear power plant operating. See California circa 1970 or whenever when Jerry Brown was first governor, and also Germany today with the recent completion of the Datteln 4 coal power plant. The Greens would rather burn down the world, somewhat literally, than abandon their false beliefs about the dangers of nuclear power and their neo-Malthusian wet-dreams of taking us all back to the stone age to live in harmony with nature.

  27. John Morales says

    Gerrard:

    However, I can’t sell nuclear power to Greens because Greens would rather build a new coal power plant than keep an existing nuclear power plant operating.

    Succinct.

  28. KG says

    Dr James Hansen and Dr Kerry Emanuel largely agree with this assessment, along with probably many other climate scientists. – GerrardOfConspiracyTheories@35

    As I’ve pointed out to you numerous times, climate scientists’ expertise is in climate science, not energy supply, where their opinions are of no more relevance than (say) those of an evolutionary biologist or computer scientist.

    However, I can’t sell nuclear power to Greens because Greens would rather build a new coal power plant than keep an existing nuclear power plant operating.

    A typically dishonest overgeneralization. I’m a Green by any standard – an active member of the Scottish Green Party. I agree that the German decision to close nuclear plants after Fukushima was completey wrong – and our own party policy on the issue, which I had a hand in writing, opposes shutting Scotland’s two nuclear power stations before their long-planned decommisioning dates, as long as they remain reasonably safe. You can’t “sell nuclear power to Greens” as a general solution to climate change partly because you’re an obsessive conspiracist crank (as is evident from your tendency to push the issue even when it is of no relevance), but mostly because it has enormous disadvantages you are too dishonest to acknowledge. These include the dangers of accidents and sabotage, problems of waste disposal, proliferation of nuclear weapons and above all, the dreadful record of the nuclear industry in delivering projects on time and in budget, and the long lead-time before even a successful nuclear programme in places currently without one (or much of one) could contribute significantly to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

  29. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    Nuclear power can be safe. When nuclear power is safe, it is horrendously expensive.
    Mining of nuclear fuels is not carbon free. And we’re still waiting for thorium plants to be commercial so at the moment the fuel sources for nuclear are very limited, and will become even more so if the number of nuclear plants (10 or so years to design & build to a reasonable standard) increased.

    And no, I don’t like coal either. I’m interested in the research into distributed generation and storage which is a lot more flexible than centralised anyway.

  30. chrislawson says

    Gerrard

    You’re not outright lying, but you are acting like a damned propagandist. Let’s take a look at your two references.

    [1] A 33-year old news article reporting on the controversies over radon from which you have chosen to quote only two paragraphs about one researcher’s data which had not even been published at the time. Guess what? When it was published, it was roundly . criticised for poor . methodology. You might want to believe that all the criticism was unfair, but the fact is that the weight of all subsequent research completely contradicts Cohen’s findings. The most recent important paper is this 2012 meta-analysis of 22 studies of over 33,000 participants which shows not just a strong correlation between lung cancer and radon, but also the strong dose-response association that Cohen denied existed. Even then, Cohen wasn’t trying to argue that radon was safe. He was arguing that there was a strong hormesis effect at lower doses. He was wrong. And you misrepresented his findings even given that.

    [2] An MIT press release about a paper that has nothing to do with radon. This experiment was about putting mice above a radiation source for 5 weeks. First of all, 5 weeks is nowhere near long enough to compare to radon exposure in people’s homes or workplaces which would usually be measured in years to decades. Secondly, the radiation source was I-125, a common medical isotope. The reason why I-125 is such a popular medical isotope is it decays by a completely different process to dangerous elements such as radon. I-125 decays by electron capture to a high-energy Tellurium-125, which then dumps its energy as either a low-energy (35.5 keV) electron or a gamma ray (also around 35.5 keV), with a few alternative decay paths leading to lower-energy X-rays. The result is a decay that is (1) easy to measure for nuclear imaging and (2) does not penetrate past a few cells and thus causes little damage outside the targetted region when used for radiation therapy. Excellent for medical use.

    Radon, on the other hand, radiates by alpha decay, meaning it spits out a high-energy (4.6 MeV) helium nucleus with large potential for DNA strand rupture. Most of its daughter particles are themselves radioactive via either alpha or beta decay (which is not as ionising as alpha decay but can penetrate deeper). Worse still, radon is in the air which makes it inhalable, where it sticks to the mucus in the lungs and directly irradiates lung tissue. In comparison, the mice in your quoted study were exposed for a short time to a more distant source of relatively medically safe radiation. Whatever the merits of that study, it is completely meaningless with regard to radon.

    Please note that in the very paper you reference, the authors themselves point out the important limitations in their study and in that press release took pains to explain that this was not sufficient evidence to change current radiation exposure recommendations. But I guess none of that matters when your research technique is to skim news stories and press releases about studies you don’t understand for insincere “gotcha” quotes.

  31. birgerjohansson says

    In the 1950s, there was concern in Sweden about radon building up indoors because of building materials.
    Since the houses were poorly isolated -oil was cheap- it was concluded that there was no danger.
    Then the oil crisis arrived and people had to add insulation…….

  32. KG says

    To return to matters more directly relevant to this thread, GerrardOfConspiracyTheories@29 presents Cohen’s study on radon as if it were uncontested, which is far from being the case (see pp.159-160 of the linked monograph. One might ask – is it proposed that inhaling radon actually reduces the risk of lung cancer? If so, what is the proposed mechanism? If not, some other factor or factors must be responsible for the lower levels found in Cohen’s sample of US counties with higher county-level radon levels – and this factor could have masked an actual increased risk with increased radon. The linked monograph proposes that this factor is likely to be levels of smoking, which no-one disputes is far more important than variations in radon levels in relation to lung cancer.

  33. KG says

    I posted #41 without refreshing after posting my #37; I see chrislawson@39 has covered the same issue in more detail. But #29 is only too typical of GerrardOfConspiracyTheories.

    Ariflame@38,
    No, there isn’t a shortage of uranium – this is one canard I wish sceptics of the role of nuclear power in combatting climate disruption would drop.

    With respect to proliferation, GerrardOfconspiracyTheories@34 is again talking nonsense. North Korea had extensive help from the USSR in building up nuclear expertise and a nuclear power programme before it began work on nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons require significant quantities of either uranium highly enriched in uranium-235 or plutonium, and the only ways of producing more than tiny quantities of either require nuclear reactors (possibly uranium-233 could also be used in nuclear weapons – it would be a byproduct of thorium reactors if the latter were ever practicable). A nuclear power programme is an excellent cover for a nuclear weapons programme – India, Israel, Pakistan, North Korea all developed their nuclear weapons on the back of a nuclear power industry. The more countries have nuclear power programmes, and the relaated expertise, the more will have the ability to develop nuclear weapons.

    A couple of additional falsehoods from GerrardOfconspiracyTheories@37:

    I can sell nuclear power to American Republicans on lots of measures. Better air. No need for foreign wars for oil. It’s cheaper.

    Cheaper? Ridiculous nonsense. EDF is demanding a guaranteed price of £92.50 for every megawatt hour – way above current or plausible market prices – for the electricity that may someday be produced by the nuclear power plant it is building at Hinckley Point. Moreover, a major use for oil, as even GOCT must be aware, is in road transport. To power road transport by electricity you need either huge numbers of batteries, or a lot of hydrogen (or conceivably hydrocarbon fuels) produced using electricity. It is unlikely this can be done at lower cost than simply burning fossil hydrocarbons, but in any case, nuclear power’s major (I would say only) advantage over renewables – lack of intermittency – disappears in that case, since the hydrogen or other fuels are necessarily produced in advance, while vehicle batteries can actually act as a storage buffer.

    [Greens’] neo-Malthusian wet-dreams of taking us all back to the stone age to live in harmony with nature.

    A barefaced, outright, shameless lie. There is a tiny handful of actual primitivists among Greens; none of the established Green parties have any such dreams.

  34. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    Sorry, I sometimes forget to leave in the context ‘shortage of easy and affordable to extract uranium’. Where shortage to me means ‘at current use levels would take about a century to deplete’. I guess I just look long term. I must admit I haven’t looked at the current predicted resources for about a decade now, did they find new ones?
    Given that it’s not particularly affordable now, it’s only going to get less affordable in the future.

  35. garnetstar says

    Gerrad @29, don’t be silly. You are seriously quoting from a 1989 paper? From a rather fringe journal? FYI, science has progressed since 1989.

    Also, the MIT study that you quote cites background radiation, not ingestion. You are ignorant of the difference between the two. Internal contamination by alpha-emitters (like radon) is one of the most fatal ways to be irradiated. That’s why they’re so concerned about plutonium waste in the ground water, not “in the background”. Plutonium is also an alpha-emitter, and can be handled, like all alpha-emitters, without much damage for brief periods and at lower doses, without ill effects. But the moment you are internally contaminated by alpha-emitters, you are at serious risk.

    Please get a (modern) textbook in nuclear chemistry. You don’t have to take my word for it.

    Also, the worst way to ingest any chemical, other than injecting it into your vein, is inhaling it. Your gut at least has some protection against ingested chemicals, aka vomiting and diarrhea. That’s by a lot of suicide attempts by pills fail: your stomach gets upset at the presence of a lot of that toxic chemical, and empties itself ASAP. But your lungs have no protection at all: whatever you breathe in, they take into the bloodstream.

    Just think of cyanide (don’t try this at home, please!). Ingesting potassium cyanide by mouth can take a couple agonizing hours to kill you (up to 24 hours if you had it in a capsule!). Inhalation of cyanide gas gives you four seconds of conscious agony and death within four minutes.

  36. garnetstar says

    Gerrad @32, another ignorant mistake. The paper that you cite re Chernobyl, etc., explicitly states that they are studying exposure to “ionizing radiation” ONLY.

    Do you know what “ionizing radiation” is? Better look it up. It isn’t internal contamination by alpha-emitters. “Ionizing radation” by definition is not alpha-emission.

    And, until you learn something about this topic, please don’t go drinking the water from contaminated sites or nuclear waste dumps. Just a PSA.

  37. garnetstar says

    John @33, don’t you be silly either. As stated above in this thread, a lot of the history of radon exposure is from people deliberately ingesting radium: radon is very first decay product of radium, and that’s the route by which people get exposed by ingestion.

    I wouldn’t call you or Gerrad contrarian or idealogues. “Ignorant” is the word for both of you.

  38. snarkrates says

    OK, couple of things.
    1) Radon is nasty shit. It is highly radioactive and it is heavy, so when it gets into you lungs, it says there ’til it decays. It is a noble gas, so if you ingested it into your stomach, I am not sure what would happen to the fraction that didn’t decay. Glow-in-the-dark farts, maybe?
    2) Alpha particles most certainly are ionizing. They are just very short range. In fact, they are short range BECAUSE they are highly ionizing.
    3) First rule of radiation safety is “don’t eat or breathe the radioactive isotope”. Second rule is minimize exposure by increasing distance or shielding between you and the source or minimizing your time in its vicinity.

    I am a radiation physicist. I collect radioactive rocks for fun. I know whereof I speak.

  39. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    garnetstar

    Also, the MIT study that you quote cites background radiation, not ingestion. You are ignorant of the difference between the two. Internal contamination by alpha-emitters (like radon) is one of the most fatal ways to be irradiated.

    Which is why we developed coefficients that transform from the dose in Grays and the method of exposure (e.g. inhlation, ingestion, etc.) to the equivalent dose in Sieverts. The different kind of radiation particle and the different kind of exposure is already taken into account when we talk about Sieverts. Unless you mean to say that the current LNT model is wrong and you’re also pulling one out of your ass.

    ..
    ..

    chrislawson

    it was roundly . criticised for poor . methodology.

    Do you have copies that are not behind paywalls? As far as I know, their only complaint is “it’s an epidemiological study, and epidemiological studies can never draw such firm conclusions”, which is a load of horseshit. Even if you assume a perfectly inverse correlation between house radon levels and smoking rates, LNT still cannot fit the data. PS: Your fourth link is broken.

    The most recent important paper is this 2012 meta-analysis of 22 studies of over 33,000 participants which shows not just a strong correlation between lung cancer and radon, but also the strong dose-response association that Cohen denied existed.

    AFAIK, Cohen never said that the dose-response relationship does not exist. It does exist at sufficiently high acute doses and sufficiently high chronic dose rates. I can’t quickly find a copy of your paper, but given the abstract, it seems sufficiently clear that it’s finding lots of studies with very high doses and dose rates, such as miners, and extrapolating out of the range of the data set, extrapolating down to zero, which is wildly inappropriate.

    He was arguing that there was a strong hormesis effect at lower doses. He was wrong.

    AFAIK, you’re wrong again. He said that the data suggested hormesis, and that more data would be needed to confirm it. Further, we are not in possession of enough data to know if it’s true or not.

    The next paragraph is special pleading. Rather than defend the traditional LNT model where all ionizing radiation is expected to accumulate and cause DNA damage and cause cancer, you’re just whipping up a new model right out of your ass.

    Second 5 weeks is more than long enough given that they did detailed testing of the DNA and found no abnormalities. If LNT was true, there should have been detectable abnormalities.

    Finally, we know a lot more about DNA damage and cell repair mechanisms (and apoptosis) than we did back then. These biological repair mechanics would have thresholds. Below the thresholds, and they’re wildly effective at repairing all damaged cells (or killing them). Above a certain threshold, then they have to use error-prone repair mechanisms.

    the authors themselves point out the important limitations in their study and in that press release took pains to explain that this was not sufficient evidence to change current radiation exposure recommendations. But I guess none of that matters when your research technique is to skim news stories and press releases about studies you don’t understand for insincere “gotcha” quotes.

    The simple LNT model is simply inconsistent with their results, no matter what the authors say. Having said that, I wish we would do a lot more tests of this sort using different radiation sources and with different modes of exposure. That could settle the question once and for all. I strongly bet that you would see a clear threshold effect in the data. Hormesis, I don’t know.

    ..
    ..

    KG

    As I’ve pointed out to you numerous times, climate scientists’ expertise is in climate science, not energy supply, where their opinions are of no more relevance than (say) those of an evolutionary biologist or computer scientist.

    Most of energy experts also agree with me that there is no solution without lots of nuclear power. See the paper by Clack et al responding to the actual crank Jacobson.

    because you’re an obsessive conspiracist crank

    Then you’re calling other leading climate scientists, like Dr James Hansen, Dr Kerry Emanuel, and Dr Ken Caldeira, cranks too. I don’t think that many leading climate scientists in the IPCC are cranks. I can name more if you want and cite more open letters and papers too. They say things just as strong as I do for most of these points of controversy. One says that the anti-nuclear movement is “quasi-religious”. They say that it’s a miracle that renewables that replace fossil fuels, or that it’s “impossible” “barring a miracle”, or that believing in such things is “almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy”. I have more scientists saying that there is a clear anti-nuclear bias to the IPCC reports, and a peer reviewed paper saying that if you remove the overly strict constraints on nuclear fuel availability in the IPCC modeling, then nuclear dominates most of the pathways. Ex:

    Ex:
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2018/10/29/top-climate-scientists-warn-governments-of-blatant-anti-nuclear-bias-in-latest-ipcc-climate-report/

    The authors of the open letter aren’t the only ones finding evidence of anti-nuclear bias in the IPCC report. The day after the letter was published, physicist Jani-Petri Martikainen published an analysis showing that IPCC modelers restricted the role of nuclear by assuming a scarcity of uranium — something that has not been a concern since the late 1950s but has been a talking point of anti-nuclear campaigners since the 1970s.

    In other instances, Martikainen finds, IPCC modelers assume uranium mining comes to a halt for an unspecified reason. “For some weird reason, humanity stops mining uranium even when the fuel cost is still massively lower than for fossil fuels,” Martikainen writes.

    Such manipulations disturb climate modelers like Wigley. “There are a number of productive climate scientists who are ideologically opposed to nuclear,” he explained. “In some cases this stems from early associations with Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth (or similar organizations).”

    The signers, who include nuclear weapons expert and Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Rhodes, criticize the IPCC’s claim “that the ‘use of nuclear power poses a constant risk of proliferation’ even though no nation in history has ever created a nuclear weapon from civilian nuclear fuel under inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2018/10/29/top-climate-scientists-warn-governments-of-blatant-anti-nuclear-bias-in-latest-ipcc-climate-report/

    In addition to inputting future uranium shortages as an assumption, physicist Martikainen noted that IPCC modelers assume large cost reductions for solar and wind but none for nuclear, gross overestimates of efficiency (capacity factors) for wind, and gross underestimates of efficiency for nuclear.

    Martikainen notes that if IPCC modelers removed the uranium scarcity assumption, “Nuclear power would end up dominating the energy supply. I have a feeling that resource constraint was introduced specifically for this reason. Modellers first did their calculations without the constraint and ended up with a result that they found distasteful.”

    Concludes Martikainen, “I suspect that modellers worked backwards and set the resource limitation based on the maximum share of the energy supply they were ready to grant for nuclear power. Not cool.”

    For more, see:

    https://youtu.be/KnN328eD-sA
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2018/10/29/top-climate-scientists-warn-governments-of-blatant-anti-nuclear-bias-in-latest-ipcc-climate-report/
    https://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/23/jim-hansen-presses-the-climate-case-for-nuclear-energy/
    http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2011/20110729_BabyLauren.pdf
    http://environmentalprogress.org/big-news/2018/10/25/open-letter-to-heads-of-state-of-the-g-20-from-scientists-and-scholars-on-nuclear-for-climate-change

    Back to you:

    problems of waste disposal

    A complete non-issue. You have to ask the critical question: “What if it leaks?”. You assume something unimingably horrible. In reality, the answer is “nothing”. We have the papers. We know what happens if there’s a leak. The answer is nothing. See: https://jmkorhonen.net/2013/08/15/graph-of-the-week-what-happens-if-nuclear-waste-repository-leaks/

    We have also run the experiment. We know what happens to radioactive waste in disposal after millions of years because the experiment has been done. See: https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidbressan/2018/08/14/two-billion-year-old-natural-reactor-may-holds-key-for-safe-nuclear-waste-disposal/

    There is nothing to worry about from properly disposed nuclear waste. Even if it’s not properly disposed, it’s probably not going to hurt anyone. There’s so little of it that any leak is going to be diluted, and the dose is the poison – homeopathy isn’t real.

    proliferation of nuclear weapons and above all

    Proliferation of nuclear power does not directly lead to proliferation of nuclear weapons. There is technological transfer, but you’re not going to significantly impede the spread of nuclear weapons by stopping the spread of nuclear power. Just look at North Korea vs South Korea to see. Again, the best way to stop the spread of nuclear weapons is to spread nuclear power under an international regime of the non-proliferation treaty and IAEA inspections and safeguards, because if we don’t do it, then the Russians, Chinese, or Pakistanis will, and we all know what happens when they do that.

    the dreadful record of the nuclear industry in delivering projects on time and in budget

    First, even at today’s prices of Hinkley C and Vogtle, nuclear power is still pretty cheap. It would still have cheaper upfront cost compared to any 100% renewables plan for most countries.

    The problem is that you’re quoting LCOE numbers which don’t include solar wind integration costs, and LCOE includes financial dscounting which is a wholly inappropriate tool for planning government investments for public infrastructure. Depending on the discount rate, it makes nuclear power look 3x to 9x more expensive than what it really is. We shouldn’t be using metrics for short time horizon privte investors. We should be looking at metrics like: How long does it take to build? What’s the upfront costs? What’s the yearly recurring costs, including fuel, maintenance, decommissioning, and replacement? On those metrics, nuclear is a clear winner. The combination of discounting and ignoring integration costs easily amounts to a 10x price factor between solar/wind in a 100% renewables, primarily solar wind grid, vs nuclear, and in the worst case, close to 100x.

    Second, you’re cherrypicking data and ignoring data that contradicts your narrative. Nuclear power plant costs in South Korea have been dropping year over year for decades, and are like 4x cheaper than Hinkley C and Vogtle.

    What we see here with cost is entirely explainable, but you just don’t want to understand. You’d rather just stick to your dogma. Almost all reactors in the west are first of a kind designs, constructed by work crews that have never built a nuclear reactor before. Both factors almost guarantee cost overruns. However, if you settle on a design, and use the same work crews to make them again and again, then you gain learning curve benefits. That’s what we see in South Korea. PS: It would also help to get rid of any Green legal obstructionism.

    and the long lead-time before even a successful nuclear programme in places currently without one (or much of one) could contribute significantly to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

    France converted most of their grid to nuclear in just 15 years. Care to name any country that succeeded with solar and wind in similar timescales? Oh wait that’s right. No country has ever succeeded with solar and wind. Not even close. Germany and California should stand as stark examples that it’s exceedingly difficult or outright impossible. 15 years is pretty darn quick when the alternative is “never”.

    The linked monograph proposes that this factor is likely to be levels of smoking, which no-one disputes is far more important than variations in radon levels in relation to lung cancer.

    See the later work which shows that even a perfect inverse correlation between smoking and radon cannot explain the data.

    I never said there is zero connection between nuclear power and nuclear weapons. I was careful to avoid saying such a thing. I did say that if we don’t supply nuclear power to the rest of the world under agreements that help prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, then other countries will supply that nuclear technology.

    Re cost. See my earlier comments.

    A barefaced, outright, shameless lie. There is a tiny handful of actual primitivists among Greens; none of the established Green parties have any such dreams.

    Yes they do. It’s always simmering under the surface, but it’s always there. Here’s some quotes for you to consider, mostly historical, I know, but this is what I have offhand. Some context to keep in mind:

    At the time, the Sierra Club was the most powerful environmental (then “conservationist”) group in the world. The modern Green movement was born when David Brower left the Sierra Club because they were at the time pro nuclear, and he left to found Friends Of The Earth to be an explicitly anti-nuclear group, and he founded the group with a generous money donation from fossil fuel money. (The Sierra Club changed shortly thereafter to be anti-nuclear.)
    http://environmentalprogress.org/big-news/2018/1/11/jerry-browns-secret-war-on-clean-energy

    Sierra Club’s Executive Director, David Brower […] As the Sierra Club board started to clamp down on Brower’s spending, he started attacking the Board’s decision to support the building of Diablo Canyon. “If a doubling of the state’s population in the next 20 years is encouraged by providing the power resources for this growth,” Brower said, California’s “scenic character will be destroyed.”

    It’s hard to understate how influential Amory Lovins has been during the birth of the Green movement and in the decades that followed.
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2019/02/14/the-real-reason-they-hate-nuclear-is-because-it-means-we-dont-need-renewables/

    “Even if nuclear power were clean, safe, economic, assured of ample fuel, and socially benign,” said the god head of renewables, Amory Lovins, in 1977, “it would still be unattractive because of the political implications of the kind of energy economy it would lock us into.”

    What kind of an energy economy would that be, exactly? A prosperous, clean, and high-energy one. “If you ask me, it’d be little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy because of what we would do with it,” explained Lovins.

    More Sierra club members:
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2018/06/11/if-nuclear-power-is-so-safe-why-are-we-so-afraid-of-it/

    In 1966, misanthropic conservationists within the Sierra Club had embraced Malthusianism. Writes Rhodes:

    The small-world, zero-population-growth, soft-energy-path faction of the environmental movement that emerge across the 1960s and 1970s knowingly or unknowingly incorporated the antihumanist ideology of the neo-Malthusians into its arguments… “more power plants create more industry,” [the Sierra Club’s executive director complained,] “that in turn invites greater population density.”

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2018/10/09/anti-nuclear-bias-of-u-n-ipcc-is-rooted-in-cold-war-fears-of-atomic-and-population-bombs/

    When asked in the mid-1990s if he had been worried about nuclear accidents, Sierra Club anti-nuclear activist Martin Litton replied, “No, I really didn’t care because there are too many people anyway … I think that playing dirty if you have a noble end is fine.”

    Further, just look at the Green New Deal. It’s not just an environmental program. It’s a goal to radically reshape society. In fact, I like many of their goals of screwing the rich. However, a central theme in almost every discussion with Greens is how western society must learn to live with less, and how we must radically restructure our society – in order to fight climate change. The problem with nuclear is that neither of these things are necessary with nuclear power. We don’t need to learn to live with less. We don’t need to keep the rest of the world poor either.

    And if you don’t believe me on that, listen to the greatest human beind to ever live, talking on his particular domain of expertise that earned him that title.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1997/01/forgotten-benefactor-of-humanity/306101/

    Environmental lobbyists persuaded the Ford Foundation and the World Bank to back off from most African agriculture projects. The Rockefeller Foundation largely backed away too—though it might have in any case, because it was shifting toward an emphasis on biotechnological agricultural research. “World Bank fear of green political pressure in Washington became the single biggest obstacle to feeding Africa,” Borlaug says. The green parties of Western Europe persuaded most of their governments to stop supplying fertilizer to Africa; an exception was Norway, which has a large crown corporation that makes fertilizer and avidly promotes its use. Borlaug, once an honored presence at the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, became, he says, “a tar baby to them politically, because all the ideas the greenies couldn’t stand were sticking to me.”

    Borlaug’s reaction to the campaign was anger. He says, “Some of the environmental lobbyists of the Western nations are the salt of the earth, but many of them are elitists. They’ve never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for fifty years, they’d be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things.”

    The Green movement has always been regressive and conservative. The Green movement is easily the most dangerous political movement today.

  40. microraptor says

    The Green movement has always been regressive and conservative. The Green movement is easily the most dangerous political movement today.

    Well, if there was ever any doubt that Gerrard was anything other than a raging crackpot, there it goes.

  41. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    microraptor
    Greens are the primary impediment to fixing climate change (Dr James Hansen and Dr Kerry Emanuel agree). Greens are the primary impediment to fixing world hunger, especially in Africa (the greatest human being to ever live, Norman Borlaug, who was intimately involved, agrees). How does it feel to defend a “quasi-religious” movement that is responsible for those things? (“Quasi-religious” is the word choice of Dr James Hansen).

    If I’m a crank, then these people are cranks too, and many more too (cited many upthread). Do you really want to go there? Have you ever deeply considered that I’m right? Have you considered that most Green political parties and orgs around the world are actually completely full of shit when it comes to energy policy and food policy?

  42. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    If you are to read anything that I’ve posted, please just read this one source. It includes an extended debate between a journalist and arguably the preeminent anti-nuclear scientific expert and advocate Helen Caldicott. It includes many links to many primary sources.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/apr/05/anti-nuclear-lobby-misled-world

    tl;dr Helen Caldicott is a raving conspiracy theorist, and explicitly says that the United Nations, UNSCEAR, WHO, and countless others are engaged in a coverup over the true scale of the Chernobyl disaster. This is Helen Caldicott, perhaps the most celebrated “scientific” expert and advocate on the Green side, with countless honorary degrees from otherwise respected institutions.

    You’re listening to outright conspiracy theorists.

    The Green energy movement is nothing but a religious cult.

  43. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    I’m not citing Shellenberger. I’m citing Shellenberger who (accurately) quotes other people.

  44. Rob Grigjanis says

    I’m citing Shellenberger who (accurately) quotes other people

    He misrepresents other people’s data. And that’s fine by you, since he’s telling you what you want to hear. You’re just another blinkered ideologue, with simple answers to complicated questions, and simplistic divisions with Good on your side and Evil on the other. Just another symptom of the curse of the internet.

  45. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    I think I’ve verified most of the quotes independently that I’m providing here. You’re tilting at windmills.

    Sometimes there are easy answers to hard questions. Your assertion that I’m wrong is just a naked unsupported assertion based on a false understanding of history. You’re the one who is unwittingly using fallacious reasoning to support your preconceived conclusions.

    Tangent: Of course, nuclear by itself is not the whole answer. We also need something for transport. We also probably need negative emissions tech. However, all of that is going to be powered by nuclear heat directly or by nuclear electricity. There is no other option barring “a miracle”.

    Again, if I’m an ideologue, then many leading climate scientists are also ideologues because they agree with me. Here are some more tasty quotes, transcribed directly by me, from just one other scientist.
    Quoting leading climate scientist Dr. Kerry Emanuel:
    https://youtu.be/KnN328eD-sA?t=251

    Let me tell you why I’m here. As Kirsty just told you, I work in the Massachusetts Institute Of Technology, and we have a good-fashioned motto in Latin which is “mens et manus” which means “mind and hands”, and we’re very much about solving problems. I’ve worked – all four of us [Dr. Ken Caldeira, Dr. Kerry Emanuel, Dr. James Hansen, Dr. Tom Wigly] have devoted substantial fractions of our professional lives to understanding fundamental physics, chemistry, biology, climate systems, and we [??] do it because we want to understand it. We didn’t have any ulterior baggage there, but that study of the climate system has very strongly led us to the conclusion that we are incurring unacceptable risk for future generations. I think that’s why we’re all here. Solve the problem. Now as Ken properly said, there are a lot of people who see this as an opportunity to advance one agenda or another. Ok. We have to be conscious of that. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But, why are four climate scientists who don’t have strong backgrounds in nuclear physics here talking to you today about nuclear energy? It’s because we’re scientists, and we can do the math. Alright? If we want – if we truly are sincere about solving this problem, unless a miracle occurs, we are going to have to ramp up nuclear energy very fast. That’s the reality. That’s not my ideology. I don’t care whether it’s nuclear, like my friend Kenny said. We don’t care if it’s nuclear, or solar, or hydro. Whatever combination works. The numbers don’t add up unless you put nuclear power in the mix.

    https://youtu.be/KnN328eD-sA?t=1297

    So, Seth, first of all, I very much agree with my colleague [??], 10 to 15 years is about right. To him that sounds like a long time. To me that sounds remarkable. I mean Sweden and France went – this country that we’re in went from almost no nuclear power to 80% electricity in something like 15 years. What else are – What are our other options? We can scale up and solar and wind pretty quickly up to a certain limit, and then we run headlong into the barriers dictated by intermittency.

    https://youtu.be/KnN328eD-sA?t=1956

    I probably differ a little bit from my colleagues in that I don’t think it should be a level playing field. I think we should put much more money into nuclear and stop wasting a lot on covering the Earth in solar panels. We can get to 30%, and then you hit a brick wall. We’ve done the numbers. Have you? You cannot power the world on renewables. You can’t do it. Unless there’s a miracle. Alright? We’ve done the math. So sorry I take an exception to you. You’re very wrong on this. Alright?

    And one more quoted from Dr. Kerry Emanuel, as reported by Shellenberger.
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2018/10/29/top-climate-scientists-warn-governments-of-blatant-anti-nuclear-bias-in-latest-ipcc-climate-report/

    The anti-nuclear bias of this latest IPCC release is rather blatant, and reflects the ideology of the environmental movement. History may record that this was more of an impediment to decarbonization than climate denial.

  46. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    Relating to a comment above that the Green movement today isn’t inherently anti-human neo-Malthusians. Yes, they are. Here is a fun quote from Amory Lovins that I just found.

    https://www.motherearthnews.com/renewable-energy/amory-lovins-energy-analyst-zmaz77ndzgoe

    But even if — contrary to most fusion experts’ expectations — fusion turns out to be a clean source of energy as advertised, I think we would lack the discipline to use it with restraint. If you ask me, it’d be little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy because of what we would do with it. We ought to be looking for energy sources that are adequate for our needs, but that won’t give us the excesses of concentrated energy with which we could do mischief to the earth or to each other.

    He wants us to be poor – just poor enough. This is the central idea to his “soft energy path”.

    Before you say that this old guy just isn’t relevant, remember that the contemporary German energy transition is quite explicitly based on specifically Amory Lovins and specifically on his very specific kind of thinking that clean, cheap, abundant energy is bad. See:

    https://energytransition.org/2015/04/german-energiewende-made-in-the-usa/

    There really is an undercurrent of regressive, reactionary conservative mindset which wants to make everyone poor in modern Green thinking. You just have to look.

  47. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    KG
    One other point.

    As I’ve pointed out to you numerous times, climate scientists’ expertise is in climate science, not energy supply, where their opinions are of no more relevance than (say) those of an evolutionary biologist or computer scientist.

    Dr Ken Caldeira is published in energy modeling.

    Geophysical constraints on the reliability of solar and wind power in the United States†
    Matthew R. Shaner, ORCID logo a Steven J. Davis, ORCID logo ab Nathan S. Lewis ORCID logo ac and Ken Caldeira*a
    https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2018/ee/c7ee03029k

    Just saying.

  48. KG says

    I misstated something important @42, for which I apologise: uranium-235 is a natural isotope, making up about 0.7% of natural uranium. Both most power-generating reactors, and uranium-based nuclear weapons, require the proportion of U-235 to be increased from the level found naturally – that for weapons by much more than that for reactors. This is done using centrifuges or gaseous diffusion, both relying on the mass difference between U-235 and U-238. Recycled uranium from reactors does have a higher level of U-235 than natural uranium (about 1% – this is what I was (mis-)remembering, thinking the difference was much greater), but a lot of enrichment work is still required. Reactors are the only major source of plutonium – currently producing about 20 tonnes/year worldwide. Countries with significant dependence on nuclear power are likely to want their own enrichment facilities and expertise, in case their supplies of fuel are cut off or prices rise – particularly if they are involved in disputes with the USA or other major powers which could pressure other possible suppliers. Iran is the most obvious example.

  49. KG says

    I don’t have the time to go through all GerrardOfConspiracyTheories points (indeed, I’ve aleready spent too long on this reponse) – I’ll just note that:
    1) His absurd misrepresentation of Greens relies wholly on quotes taken from decades ago, with the exception of one writer who claims that the German energy transition plan is based on Amory Lovins’ ideas because of a link to Lovins’ website. Srsly? The dishonest claim that Greens are really primitivists (he’s now downgraded this to a conveniently non-refutable claim that primitivism is an “undercurrent”) is also starkly contradictory to his frequent claim that Greens are shills for the fossil fuel industry.
    2) That the claim that nuclear power is cheap is utterly ridiculous; as I pointed out, EDF is demanding a guaranteed price way above current or projected market prices for the electricity it will produce from Hickley Point C if it ever manages to finish it. GOCT excuses high prices on the grounds that each plant being built in western countries is a one-off, and once a design is settled on, it will be cheap – we’ve heard such promises before, but the fact that the nuclear power industry is still dickering about with experimental designs just confirms that it’s just not in a position to do what GOCT thinks it can do. As for his favourite example of South Korea – it’s planning to phase out nuclear power generation, largely because of a series of scandals in which safety documentation was falsified, and the Fukushima accident. (Which, before GOCT leaps in to say that that accident was entirely harmless, indirectly killed an unknown number of people because the Japanese government had to divert huge resources to dealing with it at the height of a national emergency, and send help to the area most badly affected by the tsunami by a roundabout route. In 2016 the Japanese government estimated cleanup costs at $187 billion – and it’s going to take decades. Impossible to calculate how many lives those resources could have saved.)
    3) That his favourite climate scientists themselves note that they don’t have relevant expertise in energy supply:

    why are four climate scientists who don’t have strong backgrounds in nuclear physics here talking to you today about nuclear energy? – Kerry Emmanuel, quoted by GOCT@59

    So why does he keep relying on them? Because the actual state of expert opinion on the potential of renewables is far different from what he would have us believe. See for example the IEA report for 2021. Globally, the renewables’ share of electricity production is now 29% – and growing rapidly, which makes the claim by Kerry Emmanuel (again quoted by GOCT@59) that it can’t get beyond 30%, simply silly.
    4) The claim that with nuclear power, everyone can live like the richest countries do now would be ridiculous even if nuclear power could do everything GOCT believes, with no problems. Climate disruption is far from the only environmental crisis the world faces: soil depletion, water shortages, loss of biodiversity, plastic pollution and the threat of new zoonotic pandemics are just the most obvious. The whole world can sustainably live well – better, with more sophisticated technology, longer lives, and more leisure and choices than anyone lives now – but not like contemporary Americans or even Europeans. Radical change is necessary (indeed, radical change of some kind is coming), and there is no technological fix that will prevent it – only ecosocialism can enable the world to avoid disaster.

  50. snarkrates says

    Aw, Gerrard in a nutshell:
    “I’m not citing Shellenberger. I’m citing Shellenberger…”

  51. tuatara says

    Snarkrates, no, the thread is not over. You don’t have to read the bullshit he posts. I don’t.

    To take a few words completely out of their original context, and to embellish them with my own sentiment towards him, Gerrard is “an ass[hole] loaded with books”. (GOTS doesn’t do context very well, so just for him: no I am not a religious apologist, I am an avowed atheist and dispossessed indigenous person).

    In fact, speaking as an indigenous person, Gerrard can take his nuclear-powered factory-earth Marxist proletariat paradise fantasy and fck off back to titan.

  52. snarkrates says

    tuatara,
    Your tolerance for wading in bullshit far exceeds my own. I don’t know if that is a good thing or not. The problem is that no matter what you post, Gerrard will respond with multiple posts, each exceeding all previous column inches. If you try to engage him on the substance of his posts, you will find he doesn’t even really understand the content, and he will merely respond with more hostility, hippy bashing and hullabaloo. The more you try to talk around him, the more column inches he posts. Entropy wins in the end.

  53. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    snarkrates
    Sigh. I’d love to have a real conversation about this. However, countering the gish-gallop points raised against me takes a lot of space. I’d love have a real conversation with anyone about this, here, or any other venue of your choosing, but only if you’re interested. However, as long as I’m not banned, I won’t stand idly by and let people post pure nonsenes such as “slightly highe-than-ordinary levels [of radon gas] that can accumulate in a cellar cause the lung cancer”.

    KG
    Last I heard, the South Korean gov was planning on phasing it out, then there was a citizen “grand jury” or something that looked at it, and endorsed nuclear power, and so nuclear power is staying.

    The Japanese cleanup cost includes stuff like removing soil when it is not medically needed to do so, even by current LNT standards.

    When Kerry Emanuel said there was a 30% wall, he was specifically referring to the maximum penetration of solar and wind, not all renewables. If you break down the numbers, most of the current renewable energy usage is burning biomass, geothermal, and hydropower. Your mistake is extrapolating from these technologies that actually work to some degree because they are reliable and dispatchable to intermittent and unreliable solar and wind. This is a grossly inappropriate extrapolation.

    What does living at the western standard of living have to do with soil depletion and water shortages? Especially soil depletion. People have to eat. Unless you’re talking about wholesale genocide, which is pretty explicit in foundational Green work like the quotes that I provided above, and the incredibly racist and colonialist work such as the influential book “The Population Bomb” by Ehrlich.

    Moreover, cheap abundant clean energy from nuclear might help with water shortages via desalination.

    Loss of biodiversity is primarily caused by human land use. The fix to that is reducing human land use, such as by using high energy fertilizer and other high yield energy-intensive agriculture techniques.

    Radical change is necessary (indeed, radical change of some kind is coming), and there is no technological fix that will prevent it – only ecosocialism can enable the world to avoid disaster.

    Funny. You say that the Green movement is not a reactionary conservative movement, but then a few sentences later you confirm my accusations. You are fulfilling my stereotype of Greens and the Green New Deal to a T. It’s not about environmentalism, because if it was, we would just use nuclear. Instead, it’s this neo-Malthusian belief system that says that the only option is to radically overhaul society and reverse technologically to a “simpler” state of being. The only question I have for that is: Why deny it? I don’t get it.

  54. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    More broadly, when did hope leave the left? Decades ago, it’s understanding that the population was much more hopeful about the future. I hate to invoke Star Trek, but it seems to embody this the best. It’s view of the future was the embodiment of hope through progress. Post racism. Post capitalism and post most resource scarcity via advancement of technology and especially nuclear power. (The Enterprise and the whole Federation is basically nuclear-powered.) Now, that hope appears to be lost. Technological progress no longer has its same appeal, and most of the Green movement appears to think that technological progress is the enemy – unless it’s technological progress in purposefully limited technologies like solar and wind. That Amory Lovins quote is still entirely on the money as best as I can tell – the Green movement by and large views the idea of clean, cheap, abundant energy as a horrific thing to be avoided.

    I still have hope for the future via technological advancement, and I wish you did too KG. Look to the future, not the past. The past doesn’t have the answers you seek. Technology and especially technological advancement is not the enemy.

  55. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    KG
    This is what I really want to focus on:

    The claim that with nuclear power, everyone can live like the richest countries do now would be ridiculous even if nuclear power could do everything GOCT believes, with no problems. Climate disruption is far from the only environmental crisis the world faces: soil depletion, water shortages, loss of biodiversity, plastic pollution and the threat of new zoonotic pandemics are just the most obvious. The whole world can sustainably live well – better, with more sophisticated technology, longer lives, and more leisure and choices than anyone lives now – but not like contemporary Americans or even Europeans. Radical change is necessary (indeed, radical change of some kind is coming), and there is no technological fix that will prevent it – only ecosocialism can enable the world to avoid disaster.

    I don’t get it. Why do you think that any of this is true?

    I don’t see how the hard energy path vs the soft energy path, or nuclear power vs “ecosolialism”, has anything at all to do with soil erosion or plastic polution. In particular, as far as I know, no-till practices and other practices to reduce soil erosion are entirely compatible with high yield agriculture techniques.

    The soft energy path means less energy for desalination, which means more worries about water shortage. So, your plan is worse here.

    The soft energy path means less energy for modern energy-intensive high-yield agriculture techniques, which means greater total land usage, and human land usage is the main driver of biodiversity loss and opportunity for zoonotic pandemics. So, your plans is worse here too.

    I know what you are saying is the standard Green dogma (which I stil describe as neo-Malthusian, reactionary conservative, Luddite, regressive, etc.). I just don’t understand at all why you think it’s true. With the exception of food diet differences (which are sometimes exaggerated), it’s obvious to me that everything you say is either manifestly wrong or a non-sequitir.

    PS: You didn’t even mention other looming threats which are real and more worrying and AFAIK without good answers, like peak phosphorus.

  56. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    KG
    Re cost.

    You’re comparing the cost of intermittent generators (solar wind) vs reliable dispatchable generators (e.g. nuclear). That’s inappropriate. The grid cannot run on solely intermittent generators. To run with lots of solar and wind, you either need lots of backup or lots of batteries. On top of that, you also need lots of additional transmission capacity, and at high penetrations of solar and wind, you need overbuild factors of like 2x or more of the solar and wind with curtailment to handle seasonal swings in supply and demand, and to reduce transmission costs and storage costs to something reasonable. Finally, you’ll also need synchronous condensers to provide grid inertia, and other backup generators to provide blackstart capability.

    You’re welcome to continue to compare apples to oranges, but it’s not very insightful to do so.

    The projected extra transmission costs alone are possibly larger than the costs of nuclear power, even at Hinkley C / Vogtle prices, and definitely at South Korean prices. Adding on batteries, solar wind overbuild, synchronous condensers, and generators for blackstart, and it’s much larger than even Hinkley C / Vogtle prices.

    Again, this is why I say that even if solar cells and wind turbines were entirely free and plentiful, it still wouldn’t be cheap enough.

    You need to stop thinking about electricity as a commodity and you need to think about it as a service. Our grid works on the assumption of power delivered on the millisecond when it’s needed. It’s not a commodity. Comparing commodity-like prices between generators that can on their own supply the necessary power every millisecond vs those that cannot – it shows great ignorance (or dishonesty) on this topic. Dishonesty which is all too widespread.

    Even if nuclear power would never get cheaper than Hinkley C and Vogtle, and even if solar cells and wind turbines became completely free, nuclear power would still be cheaper.

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