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James Lovelock and Chernobyl: anecdotal versus empirical evidence by Chuck Baclagon
August 10, 2009, 7:55 am
Filed under: Stop climate change, End the nuclear age | Tags: , ,

From Nuclear Reaction

A couple of weeks ago we talked about eminent environmentalist James Lovelock and his idea for burying nuclear waste in the rainforests because…

One of the striking things about places heavily contaminated by radioactive nuclides is the richness of their wildlife…

He was at it again in the UK’s Observer newspaper last weekend…

Nuclear is the answer. Far, far less dangerous than any propagandist has ever pretended. Look, even now, at the wildlife all around Chernobyl! Because man and his pets have not been near for years!

We’d really like to know where Lovelock gets his information because well… Let’s hand you over to Messrs Møller, Mousseau, de Lope and N Saino, and their paper ‘Anecdotes and empirical research in Chernobyl’…

[JT] Smith suggested, based on two-page reports, that animal populations are thriving in Chernobyl (e.g. Baker & Chesser 2000). These reports provide anecdotal evidence with no information on methods or empirical findings. Although animals and plants can be censused using standard, rigorous methodology (e.g.Bibby et al. 2005), surprisingly, the first large-scale censuses of any living organism were conducted by us during 2006–2007, 20 years after the disaster, showing reduced population densities of most species of birds in contaminated areas (Møller & Mousseau 2007a,b). If we classify species as farmland and otherwise, we find no evidence for farmland species having different slopes between abundance and radiation when compared with other species (F1,78=0.0003, p=0.99), providing no support for Smith’s suggestion. Why has there been no concerted effort to monitor the long-term effects of Chernobyl on free-living organisms and humans? The official reports by IAEA, WHO and UNDP were narrative renditions of parts of the literature, and these reports, with Smith as co-author, concluded that Chernobyl was a thriving ecosystem with increasing populations of animals (Chernobyl Forum 2005; EGE 2005), despite no census data existing. Scientific enquiry depends on rigorous analysis of data rather than rendition of anecdotal evidence.

There has been ‘no concerted effort to monitor the long-term effects of Chernobyl on free-living organisms and humans’. So again, where is Lovelock getting his information? Are his assertions a ‘rendition of anecdotal evidence’ or built on large-scale censuses using ‘standard, rigorous methodology’? If it’s the latter, we’d really like to see the data.


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Chernobyl is not nuclear power. It was a stupid accident by a foolish “safety” engineer. Whatever the reality there it has nothing to do with current Nuclear power plant safety issues.

Nuclear Power is the safest form of electricity production in the world and produces no emissions in the process. A Liquid Floride Thorium Reactor would produce almost no waste while using a ton of thorium to produce a gigawatt year of Electric. The current “waste” from Light water reactors has many valuable materials that should be recovered and used. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Reduce coal – use Thorium. Reuse waste – reprocess our used nuclear fuel, and recycle, use breeder reactors to get the full energy potential from Uranium and Thorium.

Comment by David

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