The unpalatable truth is that the anti-nuclear lobby has misled us all

Paul Mobbs mobbsey at
Tue Apr 5 08:12:33 BST 2011

Hash: SHA1

Today's Guardian --
What George is parroting is that the "consensus" models do not predict a 
significant number of cancer deaths after Chernobyl. However, there's now a 
large body of evidence that the observed incidence of cancer doesn't correlate 
to what the model predicts, indicating that the model is flawed. In 2009 the 
ICRP's head of science, in charge of the "consensus" dose model, resigned 
because he no longer believe that the model represented observed reality.

To quote George back at himself, "I've discovered that when the facts don't 
suit them, [George] resorts to the follies of cover-up they usually denounce". 
The only way of rationalising George's argument is:
# that the IPCC is a bunch of UN-sponsored scientists;
# UNSCEAR/ICRP is a bunch of UN-backed scientists;
# if he casts doubt on the validity of the ICRP/UNSCEAR he casts doubt on the 
# if he accepts minority science on radiation he therefore has to accept the 
minority science on climate.

If that's his reasoning, it's absurd! It's certainly not science! His argument 
is that it's peer review that is at the heart of science, not the correlation 
between models and observations. Ultimately he's corrupting his own argument 
by hedging against future criticism from the climate sceptics, it's not about 
an open evaluation of radiation risks.

George claims there is no peer reviewed evidence on the risks from low level 
radiation. What about Martin Tondell's 'peer reviewed' paper in the Journal of 
Epidemiology and Public Health (2004; 58(12): 1011–1016) which showed a 
correlation between Chernobyl fallout in northern Sweden and a rise in cancer 
rates since the accident?

I think George should stop digging a hole for himself before he hits a coal 
seam ;-)


The unpalatable truth is that the anti-nuclear lobby has misled us all

I've discovered that when the facts don't suit them, the movement resorts to 
the follies of cover-up they usually denounce

George Monbiot, The Guardian, Tuesday 5 April 2011 

Over the last fortnight I've made a deeply troubling discovery. The anti-
nuclear movement to which I once belonged has misled the world about the 
impacts of radiation on human health. The claims we have made are ungrounded 
in science, unsupportable when challenged, and wildly wrong. We have done 
other people, and ourselves, a terrible disservice.

I began to see the extent of the problem after a debate last week with Helen 
Caldicott. Dr Caldicott is the world's foremost anti-nuclear campaigner. She 
has received 21 honorary degrees and scores of awards, and was nominated for a 
Nobel peace prize. Like other greens, I was in awe of her. In the debate she 
made some striking statements about the dangers of radiation. So I did what 
anyone faced with questionable scientific claims should do: I asked for the 
sources. Caldicott's response has profoundly shaken me.

First she sent me nine documents: newspaper articles, press releases and an 
advertisement. None were scientific publications; none contained sources for 
the claims she had made. But one of the press releases referred to a report by 
the US National Academy of Sciences, which she urged me to read. I have now 
done so – all 423 pages. It supports none of the statements I questioned; in 
fact it strongly contradicts her claims about the health effects of radiation.

I pressed her further and she gave me a series of answers that made my heart 
sink – in most cases they referred to publications which had little or no 
scientific standing, which did not support her claims or which contradicted 
them. (I have posted our correspondence, and my sources, on my website.) I 
have just read her book Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer. The scarcity of 
references to scientific papers and the abundance of unsourced claims it 
contains amaze me.

For the last 25 years anti-nuclear campaigners have been racking up the figures 
for deaths and diseases caused by the Chernobyl disaster, and parading 
deformed babies like a medieval circus. They now claim 985,000 people have 
been killed by Chernobyl, and that it will continue to slaughter people for 
generations to come. These claims are false.

The UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (Unscear) is the 
equivalent of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Like the IPCC, it 
calls on the world's leading scientists to assess thousands of papers and 
produce an overview. Here is what it says about the impacts of Chernobyl.

Of the workers who tried to contain the emergency at Chernobyl, 134 suffered 
acute radiation syndrome; 28 died soon afterwards. Nineteen others died later, 
but generally not from diseases associated with radiation. The remaining 87 
have suffered other complications, including four cases of solid cancer and two 
of leukaemia.

In the rest of the population there have been 6,848 cases of thyroid cancer 
among young children – arising "almost entirely" from the Soviet Union's 
failure to prevent people from drinking milk contaminated with iodine 131. 
Otherwise "there has been no persuasive evidence of any other health effect in 
the general population that can be attributed to radiation exposure". People 
living in the countries affected today "need not live in fear of serious health 
consequences from the Chernobyl accident".

Caldicott told me that Unscear's work on Chernobyl is "a total cover-up". 
Though I have pressed her to explain, she has yet to produce a shred of 
evidence for this contention.

In a column last week, the Guardian's environment editor, John Vidal, angrily 
denounced my position on nuclear power. On a visit to Ukraine in 2006, he saw 
"deformed and genetically mutated babies in the wards … adolescents with 
stunted growth and dwarf torsos; foetuses without thighs or fingers". What he 
did not see was evidence that these were linked to the Chernobyl disaster.

Professor Gerry Thomas, who worked on the health effects of Chernobyl for 
Unscear, tells me there is "absolutely no evidence" for an increase in birth 
defects. The National Academy paper Dr Caldicott urged me to read came to 
similar conclusions. It found that radiation-induced mutation in sperm and 
eggs is such a small risk "that it has not been detected in humans, even in 
thoroughly studied irradiated populations such as those of Hiroshima and 

Like Vidal and many others, Caldicott pointed me to a book which claims that 
985,000 people have died as a result of the disaster. Translated from Russian 
and published by the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, this is the 
only document that looks scientific and appears to support the wild claims made 
by greens about Chernobyl.

A devastating review in the journal Radiation Protection Dosimetry points out 
that the book achieves this figure by the remarkable method of assuming that 
all increased deaths from a wide range of diseases – including many which have 
no known association with radiation – were caused by the Chernobyl accident. 
There is no basis for this assumption, not least because screening in many 
countries improved dramatically after the disaster and, since 1986, there have 
been massive changes in the former eastern bloc. The study makes no attempt to 
correlate exposure to radiation with the incidence of disease.

Its publication seems to have arisen from a confusion about whether Annals was 
a book publisher or a scientific journal. The academy has given me this 
statement: "In no sense did Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences or the 
New York Academy of Sciences commission this work; nor by its publication do 
we intend to independently validate the claims made in the translation or in 
the original publications cited in the work. The translated volume has not 
been peer reviewed by the New York Academy of Sciences, or by anyone else."

Failing to provide sources, refuting data with anecdote, cherry-picking 
studies, scorning the scientific consensus, invoking a cover-up to explain it: 
all this is horribly familiar. These are the habits of climate-change deniers, 
against which the green movement has struggled valiantly, calling science to 
its aid. It is distressing to discover that when the facts don't suit them, 
members of this movement resort to the follies they have denounced.

We have a duty to base our judgments on the best available information. This 
is not only because we owe it to other people to represent the issues fairly, 
but also because we owe it to ourselves not to squander our lives on 
fairytales. A great wrong has been done by this movement. We must put it 

- -- 


"We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government,
nor are we for this party nor against the other but we are
for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom,
that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness,
righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace and unity with
God, and with one another, that these things may abound."
(Edward Burrough, 1659 - from 'Quaker Faith and Practice')

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Paul Mobbs, Mobbs' Environmental Investigations
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