The UN Would Never Lie to George Monbiot
By JOE GIAMBRONE
Quite the nauseating display on DemocracyNow the other day. Renowned doctor and scientist Dr. Helen Caldicott, with more than 3 decades intense study on this issue to her credit, attempted to school the pro-nuclear British journalist on the gross ignorance and misinformation that guides his rationale. So, now Dr. Caldicott is a conspiracy theorist, fair game for snide rebukes and silly faces.
If Monbiot isn't a shill for the nuclear industry, then I could certainly get him set up there in about five seconds. Monbiot reveals his anti-intellectual agenda by repeatedly resorting to a false dichotomy:
"But I'm very worried that the global response to what's happening in Fukushima will be to shut down nuclear power stations around the world and to cancel future nuclear power stations, and that what will happen is that they will be replaced by coal."(Monbiot)
Thus begins a discussion of coal, which nobody suggested in the first place -- except Monbiot. This false choice, which I have heard time and again recently (like a PR script), is that our only decision is between nuclear and coal. Utter nonsense on its face. Monbiot leads with nonsense.
But it gets much worse, as you'll see.
Monbiot and his cult of technofascism either fail to understand the difference between radiation that is outside the body vs. radiation that is trapped internal to the body, or else they know full well and just don't give a damn.
"You don't understand internal emitters. I was commissioned to write an article for the New England Journal of Medicine about the dangers of nuclear power. I spent a year researching it. You've bought the propaganda from the nuclear industry. They say it's low-level radiation. That's absolute rubbish. If you inhale a millionth of a gram of plutonium, the surrounding cells receive a very, very high dose. Most die within that area, because it's an alpha emitter. The cells on the periphery remain viable. They mutate, and the regulatory genes are damaged. Years later, that person develops cancer. Now, that's true for radioactive iodine, that goes to the thyroid; cesium-137, that goes to the brain and muscles; strontium-90 goes to bone, causing bone cancer and leukemia."
Bitch slapped, but does Monbiot accept basic medical facts from a specialist in the field? Of course not. It's time to obfuscate by appealing to a clearly unreliable United Nations study of Chernobyl (notably published by the IAEA). This study, blessed by the U.N., is greatly disputed by the doctors and scientists who actually live in the contaminated regions and have dealt directly with this catastrophe since 1986 (not tourists).
When directed to the New York Academy of Sciences compendium of 5,000 of these translated studies on Chernobyl, George Monbiot simply dismisses these numerous studies as "cherry picking."
"Well, we have to use the best available science, not cherry-pick our sources..."
He uses this buzzword at least three times, as he also uses the "climate change deniers" smear again and again. This is Monbiot's style of so-called "debate."
That U.N./IAEA report however relied on a specific 350 studies and used criteria to ignore increases in the cancer rate statistics post 1986. Their approach uses a minimum threshold of radiation exposure as an apriori condition to exclude everyone that -- in their opinion -- didn't receive enough of a radiation dose to be made sick (whether they actually were made sick or not). This U.N./IAEA "study" set the parameters such that they would only look at a specific demographic and exclude the rest of the population despite its ongoing exposure to lower levels of radiation and free floating radionucleide particles in the dust, crops and water.
In their own words:
"Because many organs and tissues were exposed as a result of the Chernobyl accident, it has been very common to use an additional concept, that of effective dose, which characterizes the overall health risk due to any combination of radiation. (emphasis in original)" (U.N./IAEA, 2006, p.12)
This statement reveals an unscientific bias, straight off the bat. Why should the U.N., while finding out how many people actually died from Chernobyl, need to rely on a fictional concept called "effective dose?" And further, this assumption that they can characterize someone's "overall health risk due to any combination of radiation" is a second fiction. They were supposed to be looking at just the facts on the ground, no (or below it)?
The U.N./IAEA does concede (unlike George Monbiot) that their numbers are not definitive, and that the true death toll cannot be known very accurately, particularly with the methodology they chose to employ:
"It is impossible to assess reliably, with any precision, numbers of fatal cancers caused by radiation exposure due to Chernobyl accident."(IAEA, p.7)
George Monbiot instead tells the world that this study produced the "official death toll from Chernobyl in 25 years."
The actual study also left room for the tally to grow, without directly admitting that it was surely much higher:
"The international expert group predicts that among the 600 000 persons receiving more significant exposures... the possible increase in cancer mortality due to this radiation exposure might be up to a few per cent."(IAEA, p.15)
The "few per cent" are not included in what George Monbiot calls the "official death toll." Neither were the tens of thousands of stillbirths. And there is yet much dispute over spikes in nearly every type of cancer in those regions after 1986.
"Some radiation-induced increases in fatal leukaemia, solid cancers and circulatory system diseases have been reported in Russian emergency and recovery operation workers."(IAEA, p.16)
Again, not reflected in Mr. Monbiot's magical "official" toll of "43."
The IAEA exercise was a rigged study. It violated the scientific method. First you collect the data, and then you make sense of the findings. In the UN study, they first went to lengths to make sure data was restricted to only people whom they said had received certain exposure levels. That is the standard practice there.
Who's doing the "cherry picking" in this equation?
If George Monbiot's real concern is the "cherry picking" of studies and the corruption of science, he would be all over this situation and in agreement with Dr. Caldicott.
But, that's not the case.
Again Calidicott tries to educate Monbiot on the basic Nuclear 101 freshman introduction, to no avail:
"Nuclear power, George, creates massive quantities of radioactive waste. There is no way to put it on earth that's safe. As it leaks into the water over time, it will bioconcentrate in the food chains, in the breast milk, in the fetuses, that are thousands of times more radiosensitive than adults. One x-ray to the pregnant abdomen doubles the incidence of leukemia in the child. And over time, nuclear waste will induce epidemics of cancer, leukemia and genetic disease, and random compulsory genetic engineering. And we're not the only species with genes, of course. It's plants and animals. So, this is an absolute catastrophe, the likes of which the world has never seen before."
Monbiot's moronic conclusion to all this:
"Now, on these questions that Helen raises, I mean, if she's honestly saying that the World Health Organization is now part of the conspiracy and the cover-up, as well, then the mind boggles. ... If them and the U.N. Scientific Committee and the IAEA and—I mean, who else is involved in this conspiracy? We need to know."
Of course Monbiot should know about the agreement between the WHO and the IAEA, May 28, 1959 at the 12th World Health Assembly, clause No. 12.40:
"whenever either organization proposes to initiate a programme or activity on a subject in which the other organization has or may have a substantial interest, the first party shall consult the other with a view to adjusting the matter by mutual agreement..."
The IAEA's purpose is:
"to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world."
So yes George, pure science takes a back seat to other interests as you should well know.
So whose "consensus" are we talking about?
In Monbiot's own newspaper, The Guardian from March 25th of 2006 (yes he worked there then):
"UN accused of ignoring 500,000 Chernobyl deathsUnited Nations nuclear and health watchdogs have ignored evidence of deaths, cancers, mutations and other conditions after the Chernobyl accident, leading scientists and doctors have claimed in the run-up to the nuclear disaster's 20th anniversary next month."(John Vidal)
"Leading scientists and researchers," George? In 2006? In your own newspaper?
George, did you follow up with these "leading scientists and researchers?" No, you could not have since you pretended to be so surprised by what Dr. Caldicott told you during your "debate."
The Guardian (2006) continues:
"An IAEA spokesman said he was confident the UN figures were correct. 'We have a wide scientific consensus of 100 leading scientists.'"
Wait a minute! An "IAEA spokesman" is handling this supposed "consensus" of just 100 "leading scientists?"
I thought it was a health issue, not a promotion of nuclear energy worldwide issue.
The IAEA flack tells The Guardian:
"If they have data that they think are excluded then they should send it."
Data that "they think" are excluded. That's cute.
"'At least 500,000 people - perhaps more - have already died out of the 2 million people who were officially classed as victims of Chernobyl in Ukraine,' said Nikolai Omelyanets, deputy head of the National Commission for Radiation Protection in Ukraine. ... 'We have found that infant mortality increased 20% to 30% because of chronic exposure to radiation after the accident. All this information has been ignored by the IAEA and WHO. We sent it to them in March last year and again in June. They've not said why they haven't accepted it.'"(Vidal)
So who are the true "leading" scientists, and who's got the real "consensus?"
Dr. Janette Sherman who edited the translated 5,000 European studies said:
"On the 20th Anniversary of Chernobyl WHO and the IAEA published the Chernobyl Forum Report, mentioning only 350 sources, mainly from the English literature while in reality there are more than 30,000 publications and up to 170,000 sources that address the consequences of Chernobyl."(Sherman, 2011)
Just how does the United Nations IAEA manage to ignore half a million to a million dead Eurasians?
It just so happens I've been going through some of the aforementioned excluded studies, and I found some interesting commentary pertaining to just that question.
"These findings indicate that the spectrum of developmental defects generated by incorporated radioactivity in humans may be much greater than derived by international radiation committees from the follow-up of Japanese A-bomb survivors. The findings are compatible with a particularly high radiosensitivity of the fetus... In contrast to this, the International Commission on Radiological Protection ICRP has postulated a threshold dose as high as 100 mSv in Publication 90 of 2003 for effects after prenatal exposure. They and other committees exclude radiation effects by Chernobyl fallout referring to the very low doses which were derived for the population."(Wolfgang Hoffmann, Inge Schmitz-Feuerhake: Malformations, Perinatal Deaths and Childhood Morbidity after In Utero Exposure by Chernobyl Fallout. Observations in Europe and Turkey, Institut für Community Medicine, Ernst-Moritz-Arndt Universität, Greifswald and Universität Bremen, Fachbereich Physik und Elektrotechnik (i.R.), 2006)
The "threshold dose" concept is used as the determinant of who is counted and who is not. That's how the IAEA/WHO manipulates the data on Chernobyl and in-effect lies to the world on the horrors of radiation poisoning.
Multiple official sources confirm that there is no safe dose of radiation, at all:
Environmental Protection Agency: "… any exposure to radiation poses some risk, i.e. there is no level below which we can say an exposure poses no risk."Department of Energy: "… the major effect is a very slight increase in cancer risk."Nuclear Regulatory Commission: "any amount of radiation may pose some risk for causing cancer ... any increase in dose, no matter how small, results in an incremental increase in risk."National Academy of Sciences: "... it is unlikely that a threshold exists for the induction of cancers ...."(John LaForge: Dangerous Disinformation About Radiation, 2011)
It's not surprising that the UN is in favor of promoting nuclear power and glossing over its faults. All the powerful nations are pro-nuclear. It is these nations' governments who provide the "leading scientists" to write up the manipulated faux "consensus."
By the way, George Monbiot, cherry picking 100 experts (why not 99? Or 101?) is not the definition of a "consensus." I'm afraid I'm going to have to call that one out as a lie. You don't get to redefine the language.
The real consensus comes out of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and thereabouts:
"These results challenge the assumption of thresholds for genetic effects of low level ionizing radiation as well as the assumption of relatively high doubling doses for genetic effects as propagated by pertinent international commissions."(Hagen Scherb: Statistical Analysis of Genetic Effects after the Chernobyl Disaster, GSF-National Research Center for Environment and Health, Institute of Biomathe-matics and Biometry, Neuherberg/Munich, 2006)
"They showed that the existence of the effect at the low foetal doses which had been received defined an error in the current ICRP risk model for this kind of exposure of upwards of 100-fold. ... The finding effectively falsifies the current radioprotection system for these kinds of internal exposures to fission products and suggests urgent reappraisal of the nuclear site child leukaemia clusters..."(Chris Busby: Infant Leukemia in Europe after Chernobyl and its Significance for Radiation Protection. A meta-analysis of three countries including new data from the United Kingdom, University of Liverpool, Dept of Human Anatomy and Cell Biology, And Green Audit,Aberystwyth, UK, 2006)
"Deteriorated radiation situation in Ukraine has adversely affected the brain tumor incidence in infants thereby leading to over 2.3 times growth of total patient population and 6.2 times growth in the number of patients under 1 year. "(Yuri Orlov, Andrey Shaversky, V. Mykhalyuk: Intracranial Neoplasms in Infants of Ukraine. An Epidemiological Study, Institute of Neurosurgery named after acad. A.P.Romodanov, AMSU, Kiev, 2006)
"It should be noted that earlier made prognosis for thyroid cancer failed, and real picture has surpassed all expectations."(A. E. Okeanov 1 , E. A. Sosnovskaya: Incidence of Malignant Tumors Among Different Groups of Belarusian Population Affected to the Chernobyl Accident, International State Environmental University, Minsk, Republic of Belarus and Republican Research-Practical Center of Radiation Medicine and Human Ecology, Gomel, Republic of Belarus, 2006)
"Thus, it was shown that small doses of radiation are statistically significant risk factors of malignant development."(Emilia A. Diomina: Radiation Epidemiological Studies in a Group of Liquidators of the Chernobyl Accident Consequences, R.E. Kavetsky Institute of Experimental Pathology, Oncology and Radiobiology of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Kiev, 2006)
We hear a lot of chatter from pundits like Monbiot how we are surrounded by background radiation. Have you once seen them distinguish between the radiation source outside the body vs. one emitting inside your body and jammed up against your cells and DNA?
You don't hear them concede that pregnant women aren't allowed to receive x-rays either. Their arguments tend to fall apart under scrutiny.
These findings were quite sobering:
"The wrong general assumption of a constant linear radiation effect from high to zero (half a dose, half the effect) is unfortunately even today still the base of the radiation protection laws, although supralinear effects in vivo (Petkau effect) are today confirmed on all levels of live including man."(Ralph Graeub, Langnau, Schweiz: The Petkau Effect, Chernobyl - 20 Years Later - Experiences and Lessons for the Future, 2006)
"Chernobyl's radioactive contamination at levels in excess of 1 Ci/km2 (as of 1986 1987) is responsible for 3.8 4.4% of the overall mortality in areas of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. In several other European countries with contamination levels around 0.5 Ci/km2 (as of 1986 1987), the mortality is about 0.3 0.7% (see Chapter II.7). Reasonable extrapolation for additional mortality in the heavily contaminated territories of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus brings the estimated death toll to about 900,000, and that is only for the first 15 years after the Chernobyl catastrophe. "(Alexey Yablokov, Vassily Nesterenko, Alexey Nesterenko: Chernobyl Consequences f the Catastrophe for People and the Environment, New York Academy of Sciences, VOLUME 1181, 2009)
And then we finish up with DemocracyNow, March 30 2011, live...
"GEORGE MONBIOT:—that so far the death toll from Chernobyl amongst both workers and local people is 43. Am I—sorry, are you saying you didn't know that they had examined this—
HELEN CALDICOTT: That's a lie, George. That's a lie."
In sum: If you believe that less than fifty people died after the greatest nuclear meltdown in history, then I've got a fantastic house to sell you, mansion, pool, hot tub, everything. It's a steal... just outside Fukushima, Japan. Ocean view, stunning. Email me (George).
Joe Giambrone is a filmmaker, troublemaker, and author of Hell of a Deal: A Supernatural Satire. He edits the Political Film Blog. polfilmblog at gmail.