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« Reign of madness | Main | More eco-destruction by greens »

Ivo Vegter on green misinformation

Simply fantastic

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My apologies for the double posting, but something strange happens when I post: I get a blank screen, Thsi time I'll try exiting immediately!

Oct 11, 2013 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered Commenteraynsleykellow

An excellent presentation in all but one regard: nuclear power.

Nuclear power is indeed safe, reliable and low in pollution, *if* one excludes loss of containment.

Why one would exclude a known risk which has occurred in the past and will doubtless occur again in the future is left as an exercise for the reader.

Comparing the emission of radioactive material by coal-fired power stations with the ideal operation a comparable nuclear plant is beyond laughable .... when was the last time a coal-fired power station blew up and rendered hundreds of square miles uninhabitable? It is also beyond laughable that statistics on death and illness caused by nuclear accidents should be taken at face value when collected and presented by agencies and countries with a vested interest in playing down any negative consequences. I believe the entire AGW scepticism movement is based on exposing exactly the same kind of manufactured "proof".

In spite of the risks, nuclear power is still essential and worthwhile but I am more anti-bullshit than I am pro-nuclear.

Oct 11, 2013 at 11:46 AM | Unregistered Commenterpleading the fifth

pleading the fifth:
I'm no great fan of nuclear energy - but I am of good comparative risk assessment.

What is the case of a reactor that 'blew up and rendered hundreds of square miles uninhabitable' to which you refer? Chernobyl? The UN estimates that the total fatalities over time will be c3,000 (in addition to the couple of hundred dead from the fire and chronic radiation exposure of those who tried to fight it). Uninhabitable? Wildlife flourishes, and those forced to evacuate their homes are demanding to be allowed to return. This form a poor Soviet graphite core reactor with technicians running unauthorised experiments. Fukushima? Zero deaths thus far from an old, though better designed reactor with a design flaw (diesel back-up generators located where they would be flooded by a tsunami of this size - in itself, generated by about the third largest earthquake recorded by modern equipment).

The psychometrics cause us to overestimate the risks of those events that lead to a large number of simultaneous deaths, even when the involve lower risks than those that lead to a greater number of dispersed deaths. I'm happy to accept either coal or nuclear - but I don't kid myself that coal doesn't kill more than nuclear (and always will).

Oct 11, 2013 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered Commenteraynsleykellow

> Chernobyl? The UN estimates that the total fatalities over time will be c3,000 (in addition to the couple of hundred dead from the fire and chronic radiation exposure of those who tried to fight it).

From the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation

The accident caused the deaths, within a few weeks, of 30 workers and radiation injuries to over a hundred others.
Among the residents of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine, there had been up to the year 2005 more than 6,000 cases of thyroid cancer reported in children and adolescents who were exposed at the time of the accident, and more cases can be expected during the next decades. Notwithstanding the influence of enhanced screening regimes, many of those cancers were most likely caused by radiation exposures shortly after the accident. Apart from this increase, there is no evidence of a major public health impact attributable to radiation exposure two decades after the accident. There is no scientific evidence of increases in overall cancer incidence or mortality rates or in rates of non-malignant disorders that could be related to radiation exposure. The incidence of leukaemia in the general population, one of the main concerns owing to the shorter time expected between exposure and its occurrence compared with solid cancers, does not appear to be elevated. Although those most highly exposed individuals are at an increased risk of radiation-associated effects, the great majority of the population is not likely to experience serious health consequences as a result of radiation from the Chernobyl accident. Many other health problems have been noted in the populations that are not related to radiation exposure.

Oct 11, 2013 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

diogenes on Oct 10, 2013 at 11:22 PM
"I thought TerryS showed that it could produce adverse reactions in some people!"

You have misunderstood what he said and the issue that I have! Even if a food is deemed 'safe', one cannot dismiss people's adverse reactions to it as non-existent or only ocurring in the mind. He says:
"In subjects who report adverse reactions to MSG, rigorous DBPC challenge studies indicate that large doses of MSG given without food may elicit more symptoms than a placebo in individuals who believe that they react adversely to MSG."

So, it can produce adverse reactions, but only in people who "believe that they react adversely to MSG"?

If you believe it will affect you, because of an earlier experience of eating that food, then it will affect you! I would say that if you are affected by a particular food, there is a good chance that you will have already worked that out, so you will be dismissed in the "rigorous DBPC challenge studies" as being a individual who believes that they react adversely to MSG.

What subtle mis-information to broadcast on this web site!

"That does not imply that it is a virulent poison."
You can infer that if you want to, but I haven't even implied that it is poisonous! A virulent poison is not just poisonous, it is extremely poisonous. And I haven't even said that it is 'not safe'!

The NHS definition of an allergy is given here:
"An allergy is an adverse reaction that the body has to a particular food or substance in the environment.
Most substances that cause allergies are not harmful and have no effect on people who are not allergic."

Yet you state, as if it were new information:
"I know people who react to mushrooms, prawns, onions. That does not imply that these are not generally safe foods."

What I don't understand is that you appear to think that even though some foods can make some people feel unwell, it is of no consequence because they are not lethal!

I don't just want to survive, I don't want to feel unwell - putting it mildly - and stating that food is OK for everyone to eat because it doesn't kill you, even though it causes great discomfort for some, isn't a very enlightened view.

Oct 11, 2013 at 12:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Christopher

TerryS on Oct 11, 2013 at 9:04 AM
"Should we restrict the use wheat in food because some people have a gluten intolerance? etc"

Why are you suggesting that we should restrict the use of foods? Valid information is all that is needed, certainly initially. Mass control won't solve the problem. Awareness and the appropriate information can be very effective, and economical too.

It would help me if, for example, Chinese restaurants indicated, on the their menu, of any of the likely candidates, such as MSG, that they put in their food. Some use it as if it is magic dust, when better quality food would make a much healthier population!

"Are you seriously trying to tell us that over 3000 people in Japan are suffering from aplastic anaemia due to radiation poisoning?"

No, but it would be worth investigating! What made this an interesting article is that it is about Japan and their customs are different to ours. (It has been said that the most dangerous occupation is teaching scuba-diving to the Japanese.) This excerpt from the article describes the situation:
"The vast majority of these youth are under 30 (assumed) are not taking seriously of the nosebleed and are either often found joking about it or trying to handle the situation all by themselves. Because nosebleeding in Japan is often associated with having improper (often sexual) thoughts and fantasies, there is an inherent cultural barrier in Japan that restrain them from coming out in the open to admit it as a serious matter or even just letting the public know about it. But in fact the observation suggests that many of them are suffering from the (a) recurring, (b) massive in volume, and (c) enduring nosebleeding that are beginning to pose risks to their overall health by causing other symptoms such as low fever, headaches, nausea, and fatigue. Some are skipping schools and work due to them"

I would have thought that there is reason enough to investigate. It might be nothing, but just as any misgivings about building nuclear power stations at sea level, in a geologically active area, were never aired, this could be another opportunity missed.

I am not asking for billions of pounds to be thrown at the problem; just an investigation, that could be ramped up if evidence is revealed that it is needed, might be advisable.

And it does show that the 'confidence' of the speaker in the presentation might be a little over the top!

Nothing is ever settled in Science, especially when it involves a nuclear power plant that has been in melt down, let alone a triple meltdown!

Oct 11, 2013 at 12:59 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

> so you will be dismissed in the "rigorous DBPC challenge studies" as being a individual who believes that they react adversely to MSG.

The studies were undertaken to determine if those people who believed that they react adversely to MSG actually did react adversely to MSG so you would only be dismissed from the study if you didn't believe it. They only found a response with high doses of MSG but never found any response when given with food.

Have you considered that Chinese foods can contain high levels of histamine and it might be a reaction to the histamine rather than the MSG?

Oct 11, 2013 at 1:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Robert Christopher on Oct 11, 2013 at 12:59 PM

This needs to be added to the excerpt:
"There is some hope since some of these people have started to take the matter seriously to seek medical help. Many suspect that the medical dysfunction of nosebleeding and other symptoms are caused by seasonal hay fever (ragweed pollen), stress, or fatigue. Japan's mainstream media as well as the medical institutions are not taking the matter as serious health risk and thus there are virtually no reports on these symptoms. The social media helped bring light to the issue, thanks to Twitter."

It is the arrogance that is the villian: stopping any investigation.

Oct 11, 2013 at 1:18 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

"Have you considered that Chinese foods can contain high levels of histamine and it might be a reaction to the histamine rather than the MSG?"

Do you mean added histamine? As far as I am concerned we have an OK Chinese restaurant in our village, with very good food, and no adverse reactions to date!

I don't have a laboratory to hand, nor the expertise to investigate futher, but it could be a number of things. It could still be MSG, because the symptoms that I have are that I do not feel well. I don't change colour (what a party trick that would be. I would probably get a free meal!) or get a temperature, so I am not confident that the 'food scientists' would detect any problem.

If people have, say, an intolerance to tomatoes, it is fairly easy to avoid symptoms, unless it is a very high intolerance: don't eat spaghetti bolognese etc! A bit trite, I agree, but putting in hidden ingredients, such as MSG and Aspartame, makes the job even harder.

Oct 11, 2013 at 1:37 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Apparently, we have, on average, 2 nosebleeds per year (together with 4 sore throats and 6 cuts).

There are 127 million people living in Japan which means that on any 1 day 700,000 of them are having a nosebleed, 1,400,000 have a sore throat and 2,100,000 have managed to cut themselves.

I don't think 3,000 of them working themselves into a frenzy on social media is anything that needs investigation.

Oct 11, 2013 at 1:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Woo alert.

Oct 11, 2013 at 2:19 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

"I don't think 3,000 of them working themselves into a frenzy on social media is anything that needs investigation."

Someone did, probably because they cared, or it was their job (lol):

The clip above is not even based on social media!

Steve Jones on Oct 11, 2013 at 11:23 AM
If only it was honest!

"MSG has it origins in seaweed extract which the Japanese have used for ever ... "
That IS a long time!

"Other products in this line of research .... Beef Broth and Yeast Extract"
So what is the chemical relationship? Being in the same family of chemicals may be cause for investigation but
it confirms nothing. It doesn't mean that they have the same effects on people.
Some safe chemicals can, with a slight alteration, be quite dangerous.

"Health nuts are dead against it!"
They are not 'Nuts'. It is not fear or neurosis.
They point out that MSG can adversely affect some people.

It is not a scientific presentation at all.

It is not informative, just poor entertainment and puts science in a very poor light!

Oct 11, 2013 at 3:20 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

> Someone did, probably because they cared, or it was their job

The activist who is claiming there is a problem is running a survey.

Do the maths. 3,700 nosebleeds reported on twitter over a two week period. In that time period you would expect around 10 million nosebleeds to occur in a population the size of Japan. This is not a problem that needs investigation.

If that many people had suffered enough radiation poisoning to cause their bone marrow to stop producing platelets (which is how radiation causes nosebleeds) then there must have been a major radiation incident many orders of magnitude greater then Fukushima.

Oct 11, 2013 at 4:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS


"The UN estimates ..."

Good luck with that. To me at least, the whole debate on the safety of nuclear power is crippled by a lack of credible information.

"Uninhabitable? Wildlife flourishes ..."

The documentary "Life in the Dead Zone" paints a much more mixed picture of the health impact on wildlife around Chernobyl. In particular, you should note the fact that trees with complex genomes are heavily deformed and mutated whilst those with simpler genomes appear normal. You should also note that migratory birds which visit, but do not nest year-round, are subject to very significant health impacts. Also, don't eat the mushrooms. In short, is Chernobyl fit for adult human habitation? No. Fit for children? Absolutely not.

"and those forced to evacuate their homes are demanding to be allowed to return"

In itself, that is not evidence of the Chernobyl envions being fit for human habitation or good judgement on the part of those wishing to return.

"This form a poor Soviet graphite core reactor with technicians running unauthorised experiments. Fukushima? Zero deaths thus far from an old, though better designed reactor with a design flaw ...."

Two completely different accidents and two completely different reasons why "it could never happen" actually did happen. And doubtless when there is another loss of containment there will be another string of events that were not covered in the design or operational procedures of the reactor in question. It will happen again and because it will happen again we should "price in" that risk.

Also, I didn't mention nuclear waste either, did I.

Oct 11, 2013 at 5:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterpleading the fifth

TerryS on Oct 11, 2013 at 4:36 PM

"The activist who is claiming there is a problem is running a survey. .. This is not a problem that needs investigation."

You have done a superficial investigation, and feel that there is no problem.

So how can you say it doesn't need investigation? You have just investigated it.

Someone closer to the problem, and perhaps a little more affected by the situation, is doing a more rigourous investigation, and gathering data with a survey. What is wrong with that?

I didn't say that the symptoms were caused by the Fukushima incident.

My only point is that this clip was too absolute in what was presented.

It presents the case that because scientists have not detected any problems using their instruments, there is no problem! Anyone who disagrees is a nutcase. It sounds like some of the Royal Society presidents to me.

It's a bit too simplistic and gives science a bad name.

Oct 11, 2013 at 5:14 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Surely the story of Fukushima is "40yo nuclear plant survives worst earthquake in Japanese history and worst tsunami in xx years" ?

What on earth makes people assume that a 21st century newbuild wouldn't be many, many times better and safer?

Even Chernobyl, terrible as it was, was nowhere near as bad as doomsayers wanted it to be. I was working offshore, up the derrick in wet fog as it happened, when the "radiation cloud" came over. Schlumberger reported that radiation levels were many times normal for that period - but still way below significant danger levels and nowhere near that of a *shudder* banana. Still, I had visions of all those fog droplets lighting up my lungs with a green glow everytime I breathed ... the power of popular imagery is hard to dispel.

Oct 11, 2013 at 5:20 PM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

You'll have your own opinion about the credibility of Scientific American.

Here's an article comparing the radioactive emissions from coal vs nuclear plants:

"The chances of experiencing adverse health effects from radiation are slim for both nuclear and coal-fired power plants—they're just somewhat higher for the coal ones. "You're talking about one chance in a billion for nuclear power plants," Christensen says. "And it's one in 10 million to one in a hundred million for coal plants.""

Oct 11, 2013 at 9:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterPav Penna


I don't understand what you're talking about. It's a Tedx talk. Do you know what that means? It's like a conference. It's held in some sort of conference hall or theatre. People come onto the stage and give talks. The audience watch. A camera films it.

Here, have a look:

Oct 11, 2013 at 10:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

'Two completely different accidents and two completely different reasons why "it could never happen" actually did happen.'

What 'happened' at Fukushima was about as bad a catastrophe as could happen — but not one death. This is what converted Monbiot to nukes. The point is not that accidents will not happen — it's about the dread factor that has been built up around nuclear energy by some very spirited (and dishonest) campaigning over many years.

If we take the Chernobyl accident out of the equation (Soviet design, technocrats running experiments, autocratic political system and state ownership), can you identify a single death from commercial nuclear energy operated in a liberal democracy, despite many reactor-years in France, US, etc? It is not without risks, but Fukushima is about the worst that can happen — and even that would not have been as bad if the back-up generators had been better sited.

I would not choose to live near a reactor - but let's get the hazards accurately described.

Oct 11, 2013 at 11:08 PM | Unregistered Commenteraynsleykellow

Keep fighting the good fight, TerryS - ignorance is not limited to AGW alarmists. It is a disease prevalent among the masses that cannot let go of their own bias. Sorry, Robert, but you come across no better than the likes of the biggest climate fool.


Oct 12, 2013 at 6:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterMark T

Oct 10, 2013 at 7:13 PM | redc
NaCl is sodium chloride, sodium chlorate (ie weed-killer) is NaClO3.
Don't ingest that.

Oct 12, 2013 at 9:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterAdam Gallon

FYI, coldest spring I can remember in the West of Australia. Normally wear shorts and Tshirt by this time of year, but sitting here rugged up with a blanket over me.

What appears to have happened is weather systems tracking further north than usual (because of Antarctic sea ice?). We have just had the wettest September for 40 years. It only rains in the winter here. As a consequence the east coast has got winds from further north. Hence the warmer temps.

So there you have it, record heat is evidence of global cooling.

Oct 12, 2013 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip Bradley

I tend to agree with you, I suffer migraines triggered by chocolate particularly Cadbury's Dairy Milk in all its forms. I know I'm not unique and when they happen I'm "out of it" for two or three days. My daughter-in-law is gluten intolerant and both of us have modified our diets, no problem.
The only area I can think of where even caution my not be enough is severe nut allergy, the daughter of a close friend died of anaphylactic shock after eating something containing traces of peanuts. That was despite being very careful about what she ate. Perhaps better labeling might have prevented this happening but who can tell. However there are any other things, such as insect stings, which can have the same result. Nothing in life is totally safe and all one can do is take precautions. Humans should be smart enough to work out that something in their diet causes problems and should then be smart enough to avoid it(them).

If we ban every foodstuff which causes an unpleasant or even fatal reaction in some very small part of the population then there'd be little or nothing left to eat.

Oct 12, 2013 at 7:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Is it agreed that a guy who claims bananas are a radiation hazard but a nuke plant catastrophe like Fukushima is trivial would be a great party-starter at a Children's Science Fair?
BTW did you notice his belt buckle?

Oct 16, 2013 at 11:17 AM | Unregistered Commenterhellsbells

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