I spent yesterday evening watching Channel 4 "What the Green Movement Got Wrong". As an experience, it was less unpleasant than scratching my eyeballs with a Brillo pad, but only slightly so, mainly because I am not used to doing the Brillo pad thing, whereas I am only too familiar with seeing the green movement misrepresented on telly.
The programme was a reprise of Ch4s "Great Global Warming Swindle", only this time they stuck a studio debate onto the back end to try to forestall complaints. There was no attempt at balance in the film itself : it was an all-out attack on the green movement by a handful of alienated ex-activists like Mark Lynas.
Luckily the debate had FoE, Greenpeace and George Monbiot on to rebalance the outrageous bias of the programme. They did very well.
The programme was basically a paean of uncritical praise for nuclear power and GM food, both of which are necessary to save the world.
As part of the case, they claimed that the damage from Chernobyl was over-hyped. They quoted a UN report, led by the International Atomic Energy Agency, concluding that only a 64 deaths are attributable to Chernobyl.
So that's all right then. Or is it?
John Vidal has a useful survey of estimates of Chernobyl related cancer and deaths. Here we go:
Agency Deaths so far Cancers predicted Deaths predicted
UN/IAEA/WHO Report 56 4,000
UN International Agency for
Research on Cancer 16,000
Russian Academy of Sciences 200,000
Belarus National Academy of Sciences 93,000 270,000
Ukrainian National Commission
for Radiation Protection 500,000
Assuming there is no double-counting, that brings the number of deaths in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine up to 793,000. This figure is reinforced by a book "Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment," by Alexey Yablokov of the Center for Russian Environmental Policy in Moscow, and Vassily Nesterenko and Alexey Nesterenko of the Institute of Radiation Safety, in Minsk, Belarus, who examined over 5,000 scientific papers.
They challenge the UN/WHO figures on the 56 deaths among "liquidators" who went in physically extinguish the fire and clean up the Chernobyl reactor.
"The book finds that by 2005, between 112,000 and 125,000 liquidators had died."
Yablokov was a contributor to the Greenpeace review on this link.
In summary, we have a bit of a discrepancy here.
Chernobyl related deaths lie somewhere between 64 and 1,000,000.
What is the explanation?
Part of the explanation is that the UN studies only included papers in written in English in peer-reviewed literature. Peer-review is OK, can't argue with that since we require it for climate science, but in English? Since when has it been that knowledge is only valid if it is written in English? This is an outrageous, blatantly political attempt to exclude unwanted data.
I am aware that I am beginning to sound like a climate change denier here. This is an interesting role reversal: in the case of climate science, the sceptics are in denial; in the case of radiation science, the deniers have got their hands on the levers of power.
The fact is that radiation medicine is very highly politicised, which is affecting how people view the facts.
There are doubts throughout the science, beginning with the estimation of the effects of radiation arising from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki experiments. Prof Chris Busby shows that there are two distinct modalities, one from external radiation like gamma, and another from internal irradiation, where a particle is lodged in the tissues and irradiates its environs with repeated doses of alpha. This means that the orthodox view of dose is unfounded. He likens it to the difference between warming yourself at a fire and eating a piece of coal. Chris Busby also posits a Second Event theory to explain the how the biological effects of internal radiation are underestimated by the orthodox paradigm.
There has been no methodical data collection over Chernobyl. The IAEA/UN report suggests that we will never know. Basically, it is not in the interests of the IAEA that we should. The truth is not in them. Their sole raison d'etre is that nuclear power should forge ahead, come what may. To this end, it seems very likely that they have co-opted and corrupted the WHO and other UN agencies.
Mark Lynas may say that in taking this view, I am being unrealistic.
If accepting IAEA lies and distortion, and starring in propaganda films is the way ahead for the NewGreens, then I prefer to remain an old Green, thanks Mark.