Environmentalism Causes Wildfires

Environmentalism Causes Wildfires — President Trump in August proposed harvesting dead trees from California’s forest. It was a win-win to thinking people. There would be less wood to burn in uncontrolled blazes and more wood to be used for construction and consumer products.

Unthinking — or maybe cynically thinking — people objected of course. Unthinking people have long been objecting.

With the continuing disaster in the Golden State — at least 70 dead and 1,000 missing as of today (Nov. 17) — because of the wildfires, hopefully there will be less unthinking people.

We don’t have to stop with lumber, by the way. The dried grass and brush is fuel. Why not use it for power. Europe does. Guess if environmentalism becomes your religion you lose the ability to think outside the box.

It seems, though, that controlled burning in filtered plants is going to cause a lot less greenhouse gas than what is going on now.

Environmentalism Causes Wildfires

Environmentalism Causes Wildfires

Fluoride Drops IQ Says NIEHS Journal

Fluoride Drops IQ Says NIEHS Journal
Mandrake! I told you so!

Fluoride Drops IQ Says NIEHS Journal — You should fear for your precious bodily fluids, according to a study published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).

The study, which appears in the September 2017 edition of the NIHS journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that higher levels of fluoride in pregnant women resulted in children who scored significantly lower in IQ tests.

“. . .our findings, combined with evidence from existing animal and human studies, reinforce the need for additional research on potential adverse effects of fluoride, particularly in pregnant women and children, and to ensure that the benefits of population-level fluoride supplementation outweigh any potential risks,” the study concluded.

You were right Jack D. Ripper.

Hat tip ZeroHedge.com.

Fluoride Drops IQ Says NIEHS Journal


USA Greenest Nation Or In Top 6 Anyway

USA Greenest Nation Or In Top 6 Anyway — The USA is not quite the greenest nation on Earth. It’s 12th according to the World Health Organization. Of course, if one takes out South Pacific island paradises like Vanatu, Fiji, Micronesia and the Solomons, and one discounts non-industrial places like Brunei and Liberia, then we are a solid sixth behind New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, Finland and Canada.

We are ahead of the international common scolds that are France and Germany.

Don’t even ask about India, China and Russia.

Point that out the next time a CNN watcher whines about us leaving the Paris Climate Scam.

Or you see Pat Meehan.

Hat tip Thomas Williams.

USA Greenest Nation

USA Greenest Nation Or In Top 6 Anyway


Charlton Explains Why Church Should Donate Land

Charlton Explains Why Church Should Donate Land
Alex Charlton and family

Charlton Explains Why Church Should Donate Land — Alex Charlton, of Springfield, who is the Republican candidate in the race to replace Bill Adolph in the 165th District of the Pennsylvania House, had an excellent column in the July 18 Delaware County Daily Times explaining and defending his request for the Philadelphia Archdiocese to donate the 213-acre Don Guanella tract in Marple Township as open space rather than sell it for development.

It can be found here and is worth reading.

We will take issue with Charlton, however, regarding his claim that   taxpayers have long borne the hidden cost of Don Guanella property by virtue of its tax-exempt status and suggest he stop making it.

Don Guanella Village — like Catholic schools — provided a desperately need social service that would otherwise be borne by the state at far, far higher cost to taxpayers if it hadn’t existed.

And it wasn’t as though taxpayers hadn’t been using the church property for nature hikes, jogging and such which is the status that Charlton and other opponents of development are fighting to keep.

So stop saying that Alex.

We’d further note that the Village proper is already developed and there would no objection if the Archdiocese were to separate that for sale.

We’d also note that it wouldn’t hurt for the county were to sweeten the deal, say, by agreeing to develop and maintain some athletic fields at Reed and Sproul roads giving Cardinal O’Hara first free use of them during weekdays during the school year. Or by building an access drive from Reed Road to O’Hara paralleling Sproul. Or both.

Charlton Explains Why Church Should Donate Land



Charlton Open Space Suggestion Brilliant

Charlton Open Space Suggestion Brilliant — Alex Charlton is asking the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to donate the  Don Guanella property in Marple Township as public open space.

Charlton Open Space Suggestion Brilliant
Alex Charlton, thinking outside the box for the families of Delaware County — including his own.

It is about time someone brought this up and the Archdiocese should act on his suggestion.

Charlton, of Springfield, is the Republican candidate in the race to replace Bill Adolph in the 165th District of the Pennsylvania House. Adolph, who has held the seat since 1988, is not seeking re-election.

A plan to develop the 213-acre tract bordered by Route 320, Reed Road and the Blue Route into “Cardinal Crossing”  fell through. Cardinal Crossing would have been packed with homes and shopping centers. It would have ruined the quality of life for thousands of people in Marple and Springfield townships which make up the bulk of the 165th district. It would have snarled traffic and extended commute times for people in two counties.

Charlton, in his open letter to Archbishop Charles Chaput, notes that Pope Francis has baldly declared that we have an essential duty to protect the environment and that “it is not an optional or secondary aspect of our Christian experience.”

He didn’t note, although he could have, Francis’ condemnations of greed and corrupt corporate culture. Development that objectively makes life worse rather than better would certainly fall under these rubrics.

By the way, greed applies to corrupt public culture too. There are those who want to raise taxes to buy open space without considering how the existing tax burden is already crushing the poor and needy. It is the already rich with more than enough income to dispose who are suggesting this, naturally.

If the Archdiocese donates the land it would a remarkable Christian witness, a profound act of faith and, if honestly sacrificial, would significantly help its reputation.

Kudos to Charlton for thinking outside the box and making the suggestion.

Here is his letter:

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput Archdiocese of Philadelphia 222 North 17th Street Philadelphia, PA 19103

Dear Archbishop Chaput,

An Open Letter to Archbishop Charles J. Chaput

July 2, 2016

I write with concern for the future of the Archdiocese’s Don Guanella property, located along Route 320 in Marple Township, Delaware County. The Archdiocese recently terminated an agreement for sale of the property to a commercial developer. Its future, and its impact on the quality of life of the residents of our area, now rests entirely in your hands.

The Marple Township Planning Board and its commissioners were right to deny the Cardinal Crossing plans. The Archdiocese should have been paying attention.

This property is among the last large, open areas of natural beauty in eastern Delaware County. It’s imperative to preserve the land for future generations and prevent the environmental damage and massive traffic delays that would result from large­scale commercial development. I am calling on the Archdiocese to donate this entire parcel of property to the Natural Lands Trust so that it can be preserved permanently.

Taxpayers have long borne the hidden cost of the Don Guanella property by virtue of its tax­exempt status. The tax exemption has cost millions of dollars in lost revenue for the township and the county. Already­overburdened taxpayers should not have to take on more debt to obtain and preserve property they’ve been subsidizing for years

As you know, the protection and preservation of our natural world is a tenant of our faith. Our Holy Father Pope Francis, in his recent environmental encyclical “Laudato Si”, speaks of the duty to protect our environment. His writings indicate the Church has a duty to conserve the natural beauty of the land it owns. Pope Francis writes:

“…the ecological crisis is also a summons to profound interior conversion. It must be said that some committed and prayerful Christians, with the excuse of realism and pragmatism, tend to ridicule expressions of concern for the environment. Others are passive; they choose not to change their habits and thus become inconsistent. So what they all need is an ‘ecological conversion’, whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them. Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience. ”

I respectfully request that as the leader of the Philadelphia Archdiocese that you consider the words of our Holy Father and be a protector of God’s handiwork by donating this land for preservation in perpetuity.


Paid for by Friends of Alex Charlton

I am well aware your obligation to be a good financial steward of the Archdiocese. The Archdiocese has indicated that this property needed to be sold in order to assist parishes because of the financial crisis that has arisen from the sex abuse scandal. A recent victory in the State Legislature will save the Archdiocese tens of millions of dollars in compensation to victims. The need to generate additional revenue by the sale of this property in contravention of Pope Francis’ teachings is offset by these savings.

I close with the following prayer from Pope Francis in “A Christian Prayer in Union with Creation”: “Enlighten those who possess power and money that they may avoid the sun of indifference, that they may love the common good, advance the weak, and care for this world in which we live. The poor and the earth are crying out.”

CC: Delaware County Parishes
Governor Tom Wolf
Senator Robert Casey
Senator Pat Toomey
Congressman Patrick Meehan Pennsylvania Senator Tom McGarrigle Representative Bill Adolph

Delaware County Council
Marple Township Board of Commissioners Radnor Township Board of Commissioners Springfield Township Board of Commissioners Save Marple Greenspace

Charlton Open Space Suggestion Brilliant







Trump Recycling Speech Exposes Progressive Hypocrisy

Trump Recycling Speech Exposes Progressive Hypocrisy

By Joseph B Dychala

One of the most seemingly mundane, yet simultaneously fascinating experiences of my academic career involved recycling aluminum cans in a General Chemistry class I took at Delaware County Community College. My family has always been “green”, even before it was fashionable. Turn off the spigot while brushing your teeth, compost table scraps, grow backyard vegetables, use only what you need, waste not want not – all valuable lessons taught to me by my parents and their siblings, the Greatest Generation. Perhaps this stems from their strong Faith as we are all us called to be good stewards of our resources, quite possibly because they lived through the Depression and truly knew what it was to want.

Trump Recycling Speech Exposes Progressive Hypocrisy
Progressive hipsters thought saving jobs and recycling waste was something to laugh at.

This week Donald Trump gave a speech at a recycling plant in Pennsylvania and that region of the Internet known as Twitter couldn’t contain itself. Garbage speech in front of garbage pile stated one user, countless Oscar the Grouch references, cheap shots at the folks running the campaign, at Trump himself, the list goes on.

Those bales of crushed cans represented many things to me: jobs at factories producing the nations beverages; the countless hours of enjoyment at picnics, parties, gatherings at pubs and Legion halls, quick refreshment on street corners and in office building alike and of course the refuse collectors who gather this material from our curbs and the men and women who work in these recycling plants to make the most of our natural resources. Those cans also represented human ingenuity, the will to produce something convenient and affordable, something many of us take for granted today yet didn’t exist at the country’s founding.

To read the negative comments from Twitter users was bothersome. I have to wonder how many of these people are the ones that don’t want the jobs supposedly Americans don’t want to do, to justify unfettered immigration and open borders. Are these the hypocrites that drone on and on about saving the planet yet don’t bother to throw their own trash in a receptacle let alone separate material for recycling while demanding more intrusive regulations from the EPA. Are we as a people so out of touch that we forget convenience comes with a price.

To read these comments stating this material was “garbage” and not useful material destined for re-purposing reinforces the sad notion we live in a throwaway society. Here were images of an business, providing a service not only for consumers but quite possibly to the health of the planet and a sizable number of comments were so crass the only garbage I witnessed were the comments of a spoiled bunch of elitist brats from their safe spaces.

The phrase one man’s trash is another man’s treasure comes to mind…

Trump Recycling Speech Exposes Progressive Hypocrisy

DEP Math Doesn’t Add Up

DEP  Math Doesn’t Add Up

By Leo KnepperDEP  Math Doesn't Add Up


First, a little background. In 2010, the EPA in Washington, DC imposed regulations governing nutrients that made their way into the Chesapeake Bay. The Susquehanna River is part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed; giving the EPA authority over nearly half of Pennsylvania’s landmass due to the various tributaries feeding into the Susquehanna. The cost to Pennsylvania taxpayers to meet the EPA’s mandates will be nearly $5.6 billion over the next 10 years under the current reduction system. Here is where the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), John Quigley comes into play.

Earlier in March, Quigley was questioned about the cost savings Pennsylvania taxpayers might enjoy if the nutrient reduction targets were achieved using competitive bidding via the private sector versus the current model that is driven by large-scale government infrastructure spending. A rebuttal from The Coalition for Affordable Bay Solutions (CABS) neatly summarized the duplicity of Quigley’s response:

“…[I]f $2 per lb. nitrogen reduction credits from riparian buffers are available to meet the Bay mandate . . . [then] the total cost to meet the 24 million lbs. of nitrogen mandates would be $48 million annually. Yet the Secretary continues to state that the most reliable estimate of the resources required to meet the mandate is $5.6 billion including operations and maintenance through 2025.”

The numbers that Quigley uses to argue against competitive bidding total $480 million over 10 years, but at the same time, he is stating that the DEP needs more money because the cost will be $5.6 billion in the same period. Both statements cannot be true.

In further researching the subject, we reviewed a 2013 report completed by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LCBF) that found using a competitive bid process would reduce the cost to taxpayers by 80-85 percent versus maintaining the status quo. It is no surprise that the competitive bidding option would save taxpayers money. However, it is unfortunate that the Secretary of the DEP would oppose a more cost effective method for complying with a federal mandate.

Unless the EPA reverses course on Chesapeake Bay Watershed requirements, Pennsylvania taxpayers will have to pay to comply. The question is how much money it will take to comply. To reduce costs, Pennsylvania must embrace a competitive bidding program. Currently, there is legislation in the Senate (SB 724) that would set up the necessary legal framework. We will monitor the legislation and keep you informed on its progress.
Mr. Knepper is executive director of Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania.

DEP  Math Doesn’t Add Up

Radiation Fear Irrational?

Radiation Fear Irrational? This article originally titled Is your fear of radiation irrational? Comes from Mosaic and is being republished here under a Creative Commons license. Hat tip Digg.com.


Bad Gastein in the Austrian Alps. It’s 10am on a Wednesday in early March, cold and snowy – but not in the entrance to the main gallery of what was once a gold mine. Togged out in swimming trunks, flip-flops and a bath robe, I have just squeezed into one of the carriages of a narrow-gauge railway that’s about to carry me 2 km into the heart of the Radhausberg mountain.

Fifteen minutes later we’re there and I’m ready to enjoy what the brochures insist will be a health-enhancing environment. Enjoyment, of course, is a subjective term. The temperature inside the mountain’s dimly lit tunnels is around 40°C, and the humidity is 100 per cent. The sweat’s already begun to flow. More important, I’m breathing an atmosphere rich in radon.

Hang on… radon? That’s a radioactive gas. Yet here I am, without so much as a film badge dosimeter, never mind the protection of a lead apron, among a group of people who have paid to come to the Gasteiner Heilstollen (“healing galleries”) and willingly, even eagerly, undergo gruelling sessions in physical discomfort because of a much-contested theory that small doses of radiation are not just harmless, but act as a stimulant to good health.

Our view of radiation and its risks and benefits is complicated and mostly – the delights of the Heilstollen notwithstanding – negative. We are all aware of the effects of a nuclear weapon, the Armageddon scenario of a nuclear winter, cancers and birth defects caused by high doses of radiation and the like. Images of mushroom clouds have struck fear into our hearts since the 1940s, but it is what we can’t see in those pictures that scares us the most.

Invisible threats are always the most unnerving, and radiation is not something you can see. Nor can you control it. Many years ago, a veteran researcher told me how much he wished he could paint radiation blue. If we could see it, he said, we’d be better placed to deal with it and less nervous about it. The traditional secrecy of the biggest commercial user of radiation, the nuclear power industry, hasn’t helped. Only belatedly did it realise that doing things out of sight, behind closed doors, is the best way to fuel public suspicion. So it is perhaps understandable why many people say that (medical X-rays and CT scans aside) the only safe radiation is no radiation.

Nevertheless, I disagree. I believe that a justified fear of high and uncontrolled levels of radiation has undermined our willingness to see that the risks it poses at low levels are either acceptable or manageable. Imagine if we treated fire in the same way as all things nuclear: we would have responded to house fires by banning matches.

And I am worried that, as a result of these exaggerated fears, we are failing to make the most of radiation for our greater good.

Radiation Fear Irrational?

© Bryan Olson

To appreciate the measure of our hot-button fixation with radioactivity, recall the events of 2011 in Japan. The magnitude 9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit the country on 11 March was by any measure a disaster. 20,000 people died and more than 500 square kilometres of land were flooded. Families lost their homes, their businesses and their livelihoods.

It didn’t take long for the media to discover that one of the casualties, in pole position when the tsunami struck, was the Fukushima nuclear power station. From that moment the story ceased to be about a natural event and became, in effect, about a man-made one. It became that chilling scenario: a nuclear disaster.

Of the 20,000 deaths, some were directly due to the earthquake itself, while others were caused by drowning. How many deaths were the result of radiation from the damaged plant? None. In its section on the health consequences of the Fukushima tragedy, the report by the UN’s Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation says: “No radiation-related deaths or acute diseases have been observed among the workers and general public exposed to radiation from the accident.”

The dose to the public, the report goes on to say, was generally low or very low. “No discernible increased incidence of radiation-related health effects are expected among exposed members of the public or their descendants.”

This is not to play down the impact of the event. Three of the nuclear plant’s reactors suffered damage to their cores, and a large amount of radioactive material was released into the environment. Twelve workers are thought to have received doses of iodine-131 that will increase their risk of developing cancer of the thyroid gland. A further 160 workers experienced doses sufficient to increase their risk of other cancers. “However,” says the report, “any increased incidence of cancer in this group is expected to be indiscernible because of the difficulty of confirming such a small incidence against the normal statistical fluctuations in cancer incidence.”

In short, while a terrifying natural event had killed many thousands of people, the focus of attention in Japan and round the world was on one component of the tragedy that killed no one at the time. Radiation exposure may have shortened the lives of some of those directly involved, but its effects are likely to be so small that we may never know for sure whether they are related to the accident or not.

When it comes to disaster, nuclear trumps natural. Our sense of the relative importance of things is absurdly skewed.


Chernobyl, of course, was much worse. A poorly designed reactor operating under weak safety arrangements in a bureaucratic and secretive society was a recipe for disaster. On 26 April 1986 all the ingredients came together – ironically during an experimental and bungled safety check. One of the reactors overheated, caught fire, exploded and released a large quantity of radioactive material into the atmosphere. 116,000 people were evacuated; another 270,000 found themselves living in a zone described as “highly contaminated”.Is your fear of radiation irrational? (Audiobook)

It sounds bad. For 134 of the workers involved in the initial cleanup, it was very bad. The dose they received was enough to cause acute radiation sickness, and 28 of them soon died. Then, distrust of official information together with rumours of the dire consequences to be expected created a disproportionate fear. One rumour circulating during the period immediately following the accident claimed that 15,000 nuclear victims had been buried in a mass grave. Nor did such rumours die away; another in 2000 held that 300,000 people had by that time died of radiation.

The reality, though hardly inconsequential, was less catastrophic. A World Health Organization expert group was set up to examine the aftermath of the disaster and to calculate its future health consequences. On the basis of average radiation exposure for the evacuees, the people who weren’t evacuated and the many more thousands of workers later involved in the cleanup, the report concluded that cancer deaths in these three groups will increase by no more than 4 per cent. The report’s conclusions have been, and still are, contested – but the weight of orthodox opinion continues to line up behind the expert group’s calculations.

“There was certainly a rise in thyroid cancer,” says James Smith, Professor of Environmental Science at Portsmouth University and a coordinator of three multinational European Community projects on the environmental consequences of the accident. But he goes on to add a qualification: “The Soviets didn’t put in enough measures to stop people eating contaminated food and drinking contaminated milk, and this particularly affected children.” The deaths, in other words, were not all inevitable.

Any death from any cause in any industry is regrettable and, ideally, to be prevented. But is nuclear power inherently more dangerous than other forms of energy? A 2002 review issued by the International Energy Agency compared fatalities per unit of power produced from several energy sources, including coal, biomass, wind and nuclear. The figures included each stage of energy generation from the extraction of any raw materials required to the health consequences of generating and using it.

Coal came out on top while nuclear emerged as the least damaging to health. When you think of coal-fired energy generation, from the hazards of mining to atmospheric pollution, this rank order is hardly surprising. But while the choking murk over many big Asian cities on a still day is clear to see, deaths related to the coal industry don’t mobilise either fear or indignation on the same scale as a nuclear incident does. Perhaps it is radiation’s invisibility that fuels overheated reporting of relatively minor events – and then the reporting, by its extent as much as by sensationalism, confirms and heightens our fear.


Radiation Fear Irrational?

© Bryan Olson

A number of governments responded to the events in Japan in 2011. Most notable was Germany. Although unenthusiastic about nuclear power, it had recently accepted a need to prolong the period for which its existing nuclear plants would operate. Following the events at Fukushima, it changed its mind. Critics of the policy change were left trying to recall the last time Germany had experienced a really severe earthquake, never mind a tsunami.

Ironically, despite being a nation encompassing some of Europe’s most strident opponents of nuclear power, Germans make up a significant proportion of visitors to the radon-rich clinic at Bad Gastein.

The particular Gasteiner Heilstollen tunnel in which I spent my 30 radon-breathing minutes had room for 20 or so people who had signed on for its protective value or its alleged benefit in alleviating conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and sinusitis or skin conditions like psoriasis.

The doctor in charge on the day of my visit was Simon Gütl. He told me of clinical trials, of surveys testifying to the popularity of the treatment, and of patients who are able to cut down on or even abandon the drug therapies they would otherwise have been using. How much of this evidence would rate as gold standard in quality, I have no idea – but I was struck by the enthusiasm with which some people seek out the same force of nature that most others think we have to avoid at any cost. One of my fellow transient troglodytes was on her 70th visit.

The managing director of the Gasteiner Heilstollen is Christoph Köstinger, a physicist by education. Some 9,000 patients, he told me, do a full spa therapy of one session per day for 2–4 weeks, and several thousand more have shorter courses. He is well aware of people’s conflicting feelings about radiation: “I divide people into three groups,” he says. “Those who are really frightened of radiation don’t come to us. Then there are people who are not frightened of radiation and say it’s all OK. And a lot of people are a little bit frightened, but you can usually explain the balance of risk.”

Inside the radiation spaHe’s also aware of the widespread aversion to nuclear power throughout Germany. “Some patients explain it to themselves by saying that this [radon] is natural radiation,” he explains, hastening to add that as a physicist he’s aware of the meaninglessness of any distinction between ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ radiation.


Lying on my bed of discomfort in the Gastein galleries, breathing in the radon, just how much radioactivity was I taking on board? Very little. I was inside the mine for slightly over an hour. Köstinger reckons that during a three-week treatment programme, patients receive a dose of around 1.8 mSv (millisieverts), or roughly three-quarters of a full year’s background radiation – because, of course, we are all exposed to low-level radiation all the time.

First, there is cosmic radiation from the Sun and the rest of the stars in our galaxy and beyond. How much we get depends on the altitude at which we live and on fluctuations in the Earth’s magnetic field. And then there’s radiation from the Earth itself, including radon. Here, too, geography is a factor: in some places radon can be found leaking into the atmosphere in significantly larger amounts. Naturally radioactive solids such as uranium and thorium in rock and soil also make their contribution. The global average annual radiation dose is 2.4 mSv. To put this in perspective, that’s about the same as 120 chest X-rays.

Much of what we know about radiation’s effects on human beings comes from far higher doses following nuclear explosions – the bombs dropped in 1945 on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Radiation Effects Research Foundation has studied the health of some 100,000 survivors of the two bombings, and the health of their children.

The findings from the survivors themselves came as no great surprise. For cancers other than leukaemia, an excess risk started to appear about ten years after the event. The extent of the risk depended on each individual’s distance from the site of the explosion, as well as on age and gender. As an example, anyone about 2.5 km away had a 10 per cent greater risk of developing a tumour. In the case of leukaemia, the excess number of deaths began to appear just two years after exposure and peaked four to six years later.

What hadn’t been expected were the findings from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors’ children. The assumption had been that they too would be more likely to develop malignancies of some kind – but so far this has not been the case.

“At this point we have not seen any excess of cancer or non-cancer mortality,” says Roy Shore, chief of research at the Radiation Effects Research Foundation. He goes on to point out that a large part of their disease experience will occur over the next 30 years, so he can’t entirely rule out a late effect. Nonetheless, the findings so far are a bit of a surprise. “Based on experimental data ranging from fruit flies to mice we would have expected to see some,” he adds.


Of the unresolved debates about radiation, the most contentious is the true extent of the harm (or even the benefit, if the Gasteiner Heilstollen evidence persuades you) that it causes at low levels.

There are two schools of thought. The generally accepted view derives from the known relationship between higher levels of radiation exposure and the subsequent likelihood of developing cancer. Plot one against the other, and what emerges is a more-or-less straight line. The uncertainty is over this being extrapolated to very low doses, and whether there is a threshold below which the risk vanishes.

“At really low doses – down in the range of, say, a CT examination – we don’t have strong evidence one way or another,” says Shore. “It’s a matter of interpretation.” He himself sees it as prudent to assume there isn’t a threshold: the so-called ‘linear no-threshold’ (LNT) hypothesis.

Professor Gerry Thomas has a chair in molecular pathology at Imperial College London and takes a close interest in the effects of radiation. As she points out, illnesses caused by radiation are also caused by other things, so at the lower end of the dose range you need a very large group of people to prove it either way. “Most scientific opinion is that there’s no data to say it’s dangerous until you reach about 100 mSv.”

Even so, most radiation regulatory authorities and their advisers back the LNT view. Safety limits are set accordingly low. The upper limit for exposure for a member of the UK public, for example, is 1 mSv per year – less than half the annual average background dose.

Speaking for the Bad Gastein clinic, Köstinger takes a pragmatic view. He balances the risk of low-dose radiation against what he describes as the “scientifically proven effect” of the treatment. “We have a hypothetical risk [from radiation],” he says, “but even in the worst case it is minimal compared to the risks of the drugs our patients are usually able to stop using. If there’s a risk, we can live with it. If scientific knowledge suggests there’s a threshold, that’s also OK.”

The overall conclusion of all this is that radiation is nothing like as damaging as is commonly assumed. Moreover, what often gets lost in the argument is that the difference between a very small risk and a slightly greater very small risk may be of no practical consequence. In fact, policies and decisions that become obsessed with radiation risk minimisation may, in the wider scheme of things, turn out to be counterproductive.


Radiation Fear Irrational?

© Bryan Olson

Does it matter if large numbers of people have an unwarranted dread of radiation? After all, millions of us have irrational fears about all sorts of things from spiders to flying. We cope. The world still turns.

Two instances serve to illustrate why being unduly fearful of radiation does matter. Both, in their way, are troublesome for individuals and for the community.

The first is our reluctance to exploit nuclear power. From 1970 onward, global electricity production from nuclear power stations experienced a steady rise. In the 1990s, this rise continued, but at a slower pace. From 2000, it flattened out, and then began to slip. Even as enthusiasm for carbon-free energy generation began to increase, the use of carbon-free nuclear power first faltered, then began to decline.

There are many reasons for this, not least the arguments about the cost of building nuclear power stations and of decommissioning them. But public suspicion has possibly – probably – had the key role in policy decisions. We’ve watched as nuclear power stations have begun to reach the end of their working lives. In panic at the prospect of the lights going off, we’ve extended those lives. But some countries have shied away from replacing them, judging that the perceived risk is greater than the potential role of nuclear power to significantly limit man-made climate change. From the evidence, it seems clear to me that the balance lies overwhelmingly in the other direction.

The personal consequences of an excessive fear of radiation are, in their way, even more damaging. Evidence for this can be found in the aftermath of the events at Chernobyl and Fukushima. The WHO Expert Group set up to examine the Chernobyl disaster reported that it had a serious impact on the mental health and wellbeing of the local population who were evacuated.

“There are sad stories from Chernobyl and more recently at Fukushima of people being shunned by the communities they went to because they were thought to be radioactive or in some way contaminated,” says Smith. “One conclusion of the WHO report was that the social and psychological impacts of Chernobyl had been worse than the direct radiation impacts.”

He recalls meeting a man fishing in a contaminated lake within the Chernobyl exclusion zone. “This guy said he wasn’t moving: ‘The Second World War didn’t move me out of my home, so I’m not going to go on account of a bit of radiation.’

“You can’t say for sure, because it’s all about statistics, but he probably made the right decision. He certainly faced an additional risk because he was eating local food, which was contaminated, but the risk he would have taken on if he’d been forced to move to somewhere else and live a different lifestyle would probably have meant he lived less long anyway.”

Although the Fukushima evacuees were less plagued by outlandish rumours than their counterparts at Chernobyl, they too suffered the nagging consequences of an undue fear of radiation and its unpredictable effects on health. A 2012 survey of the evacuees revealed that one in five of them showed signs of mental trauma.

Stress and consequent mental health problems are unavoidable when evacuation and relocation is indisputably necessary. But a zealous application of the precautionary principle, worst-case assumptions about the effects of radiation and wide safety margins have fostered counterproductive risk assessments. Together with unfounded rumour, sometimes boosted by secrecy on the part of officialdom and a reluctance to confront irrational suspicions, radiation has become everyone’s worst nightmare.


Radiation Fear Irrational? Radiation Fear Irrational? Radiation Fear Irrational?

© Bryan Olson

Rumbling through the train tunnel on the way out of the Gasteiner Heilstollen, I remembered the idea about painting radiation blue. Whimsically, seeking distraction from the humid heat, I wondered what it would be like if we were consciously aware of radiation. Not by painting it, but by some other means.

Imagine if our eyes could see far beyond the visible region of the spectrum and act as a radiation detector, able to signal everything to the brain as a visual sensation – or even as an auditory one. Or if our skin evolved to tingle in the presence of radiation. But radiation is everywhere, and ever-present. If we could sense it, it would be too distracting, all the time.

One man-made alternative is obvious: imagine cheap and universally available wristwatch-sized Geiger counters set to stay silent – crucial, this – below radiation levels with epidemiologically discernible consequences. Wearers predisposed to being nervous about radiation might be surprised never to hear their detector going off. Certainly not during my trip under the mountain. Not during a whole-body CT scan. Not even during a week’s camping holiday beside the cemetery at Chernobyl.

But would that be enough to reassure you?

Radiation Fear Irrational?

Pope Accepts Global Warming, We Don’t

Pope Francis, yesterday, June 18, released Laudato Si the first encyclical addressing the environment in Catholic Church history. Pope Accepts Global Warming, We Don't. Pope Accepts Global Warming, We Don't. Pope Accepts Global Warming, We Don't. Pope Accepts Global Warming, We Don't. Pope Accepts Global Warming, We Don't. Pope Accepts Global Warming, We Don't. Pope Accepts Global Warming, We Don't. Pope Accepts Global Warming, We Don't. Pope Accepts Global Warming, We Don't. Pope Accepts Global Warming, We Don't. Pope Accepts Global Warming, We Don't.

Most of it is hard to argue with. Greed is bad. Waste is bad. Pollution is bad.

Oh yeah, and abortion and euthanasia are bad.

However, Francis also felt obliged to chime in that global warming is primarily man-made and is an oppressive burden on the poor.

Taking that to its logical conclusion means those living in poor nations should no longer aspire to have global-warming producing things like refrigerators and air conditioners and computer networks, much less cars.

Saying people with brown skin should end their dreams of having these blessings strikes us as kind of mean.

Anyway, we remain global warming skeptics for the same reasons we stated in January:

1. The leading supporters hid data that contradicted their public conclusions and treated dissenters politically with attempts to punish and silence them rather than in accordance with the canons of science which would be giving them full and fair hearing then refuting them openly.

2. Falsities have been found in the arguments of those claiming anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

3. Hypocrisy has been found in the lifestyles of those claiming AGW. Really, if you believe that a particular behavior is going to destroy the lives of your children you don’t charter jets to catch New Year’s shows on different continents.  Nor do you live in energy-wasting villas. Either the activists don’t believe in what they say or they don’t care. We find this strange if one is talking about the end of the world.

4. The commonsense and practical actions that would drastically alleviate the claimed causes of AGW have been ignored, and even opposed by the supporters of AGW. When was the last time  you heard an AGW claimer exhorting for more telecommuting? How about nuclear power? If the effort was made circa Y2K to replace every coal plant in this nation with a nuke, alleged AGW gases would be half diminished by now. Even more bizarrely why do AGW claimers support the removal of hydro-electric dams to be replaced by AGW producing plants?

We can go on noting opposition to streamlining the removal of traffic bottlenecks by ending Davis-Bacon requirements, and toll roads.

Frankly, any of these by themselves is damning to the argument. As there are four of them color us extremely skeptical.

Also, while arguments from authority are anything but definitive, we will note that highly accredited and accomplished persons in the field of climate study doubt it is occurring. These include Joe Bastardi, longtime of Accuweather, and John Coleman, founder of The Weather Channel; and Dr. Roy Spencer, who pioneered temperature-based satellite monitoring.

For those who accept Francis’ declaration, we can find common ground regarding point 4. Are you green activists ready to fight to save hydro-electric dams and replace our coal plants with nukes? How about ending Davis-Bacon and other prevailing wage laws so we can free up some cash to remove traffic bottlenecks?

Another point: If you are willing to accept his declaration on global warming are you willing to accept his declarations on abortion and gay marriage?

Pope Accepts Global Warming, We Don’t.