Today, there are more than 7 billion people living on earth. For the global elite, that is problem number one. The vast majority of us don't spend much time thinking about global population issues, but for many among the elite it is an absolute obsession. Many of them truly believe that you are ruining their planet and they desperately want you to stop reproducing so much.
Among the elite, the belief that the world is grossly overpopulated and that this is causing most of our major global problems crosses all political, cultural and social boundaries.
This philosophy is taught as gospel at the vast majority of all colleges and universities on the planet, and it is being relentlessly pushed by the United Nations, the WHO, the World Bank and national governments all over the globe.
When most people think of "overpopulation", they think of places such as India, but the truth is that those of us living in America are considered to be the worst offenders because our lifestyles are "polluting" the planet so rapidly. In fact, one scientist recently estimated that a child born in the United States has a "carbon legacy" 55 times greater than a child born in India.
The elite are convinced that if they can reduce the global population far enough and get the remaining people living on earth to switch over to "sustainable lifestyles" that they will be able to save "their" planet. But the draconian measures that would be necessary to achieve this dystopian dream would not be very palatable to the vast majority of us. In fact, if the most radical population control advocates get their way, we will experience global tyranny on a scale never seen before.
Right now, most of us living in the western world are not prepared to accept "forced" population control measures and the global elite know this. But the truth is that they absolutely love what is going on right now in places such as China.
In China today, a one child policy is strictly enforced, and women are literally pulled from their homes and taken to abortion clinics when they are found to be in violation. The following example comes from a recent CNN article
When Ji Yeqing awakened, she was already in the recovery room. Chinese authorities had dragged her out of her home and down four flights of stairs, she said, restraining and beating her husband as he tried to come to her aid.
They whisked her into a clinic, held her down on a bed and forced her to undergo an abortion. Her offense? Becoming pregnant with a second child, in violation of China's one-child policy.
So does the international community condemn China for such actions? No, in fact the United Nations gives China awards for their population reduction policies.
In the western world, there are also great efforts underway to reduce family sizes and to get women to choose not to have children. But these efforts are always "voluntary". We are told that if women are "empowered" that they will always choose to have fewer children.
But many radical environmentalists are openly complaining that these voluntary methods are not getting the job done fast enough.
For example, the following is from a recent article by Julia Whitty for Mother Jones
The only known solution to ecological overshoot is to decelerate our population growth faster than it's decelerating now and eventually reverse it-at the same time we slow and eventually reverse the rate at which we consume the planet's resources.
Success in these twin endeavors will crack our most pressing global issues: climate change, food scarcity, water supplies, immigration, health care, biodiversity loss, even war.
On one front, we've already made unprecedented strides, reducing global fertility from an average 4.92 children per woman in 1950 to 2.56 today-an accomplishment of trial and sometimes brutally coercive error, but also a result of one woman at a time making her individual choices. The speed of this childbearing revolution, swimming hard against biological programming, rates as perhaps our greatest collective feat to date.
But it's not enough. And it's still not fast enough. Faced with a world that can support either a lot of us consuming a lot less or far fewer of us consuming more, we're deadlocked: individuals, governments, the media, scientists, environmentalists, economists, human rights workers, liberals, conservatives, business and religious leaders.
For radicals such as Whitty, things are never moving fast enough. They truly believe that humanity is destroying the planet and that they are literally attempting to "save the world" by pushing for global population control.
But this kind of thinking is not just reflected in the writings of a few radicals. The truth is that "scientific reports" advocating global population control are regularly featured in the most important newspapers all over the planet. The following example comes from a recent article in the Guardian
World population needs to be stabilised quickly and high consumption in rich countries rapidly reduced to avoid "a downward spiral of economic and environmental ills", warns a major report from the Royal Society.
Contraception must be offered to all women who want it and consumption cut to reduce inequality, says the study published on Thursday, which was chaired by Nobel prize-winning biologist Sir John Sulston.
The assessment of humanity's prospects in the next 100 years, which has taken 21 months to complete, argues strongly that to achieve long and healthy lives for all 9 billion people expected to be living in 2050, the twin issues of population and consumption must be pushed to the top of political and economic agendas.
When was the last time that you saw an article that was 100% opposed to global population control featured in an important newspaper?
Sadly, this population control agenda has a complete stranglehold on the scientific community. The philosophy that the earth is massively overpopulated and that this overpopulation is causing most of our biggest problems is considered to be gospel at most of our colleges and universities today. If you question this orthodoxy, you risk being academically blackballed.
Not only that, but the scientific community considers the biggest offenders of all to be Americans because of our "excessive" lifestyles. For example, just check out what statistician Paul Murtaugh of Oregon State University said a while back
"Using United Nations projections of fertility, and projecting statistically through the lifespan of the mother's line-some lineages being short-lived, others indefinitely long-an American child born today adds an average 10,407 tons of carbon dioxide to the carbon legacy of her mother. That's almost six times more CO2 than the mother's own lifetime emissions.
Furthermore, the ecological costs of that child and her children far outweigh even the combined energy-saving choices from all a mother's other good decisions, like buying a fuel-efficient car, recycling, using energy-saving appliances and lightbulbs. The carbon legacy of one American child and her offspring is 20 times greater than all those other sustainable maternal choices combined."
Murtaugh also believes that a child born in the United States has a "carbon legacy" that is 55 times greater than that of a child born in India.
This helps to explain why the elite are so obsessed with abortion and "family planning". The elite are desperate to convince you to stop reproducing. They truly believe that they are helping to "save the world" when they convince us to have less children.
In fact, the amount of money that is being spent to promote "family planning" around the globe is absolutely staggering. For example, according to a recent MarketWatch article Bill and Melinda Gates plan to spend 4 billion dollars to get contraceptive devices into the hands of 120 million more women by the year 2020.
Melinda Gates recently announced a "new crusade" for her $32 billion Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. A recent Newsweek interview with Michelle Goldberg says it's a "decision that is likely to change lives all over the planet."
Gates has "decided to make family planning her signature issue," by investing "billions to revolutionize contraception worldwide," with substantial economic consequences.
The Gates decision will "be hugely significant for American women." She's "pouring money into the long-neglected field of contraceptive research, seeking entirely new methods of birth control," a "whole new class of drugs," some that could even work without hormones, and others, might be implantable devises that never need to be removed, can even be turned on and off by the woman.
While Bill and Melinda Gates portray their population control efforts as "humanitarian endeavors", others among the global elite are more open about what they consider the "endgame" to be.
The following examples are from a recent article by Paul Joseph Watson
- Finnish environmentalist guru Pentti Linkola, publicly called for climate change deniers be "re-educated" in eco-gulags and that the vast majority of humans be killed with the rest enslaved and controlled by a green police state, with people forcibly sterilized, cars confiscated and travel restricted to members of the elite.
- Another Finnish environmentalist writer, Martin Kreiggeist, hails Linkola's call for eco-gulags and oppression as "a solution," calling for people to "take up the axes" in pursuit of killing off the third world. Kreiggeist wants fellow eco-fascists to "act on" Linkola's call for mass murder in order to solve overpopulation.
- In 2010, James Lovelock, the creator of the Gaia hypothesis, told the Guardian that "democracy must be put on hold" to combat global warming and that "a few people with authority" should be allowed to run the planet because people were too stupid to be allowed to steer their own destinies.
There are a surprising number of people out there that actually advocate for mass murder and mass enslavement for the good of the planet. Dave Foreman, the co-founder of Earth First, once stated that reducing the global population to 100 million people is one of his three main goals
"My three main goals would be to reduce human population to about 100 million worldwide, destroy the industrial infrastructure and see wilderness, with it's full complement of species, returning throughout the world."
Sadly, this philosophy has even infected the U.S. government. The truth is that billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars have been spent to promote population control around the globe, and it hasn't mattered much whether Republicans or Democrats were in the White House. The following is an excerpt from an article entitled "The Population Control Holocaust" by Robert Zubrin.
Of the billions of taxpayer dollars that the U.S. government has expended on population control abroad, a portion has been directly spent by USAID on its own field activities, but the majority has been laundered through a variety of international agencies. As a result of this indirect funding scheme, all attempts to compel the population control empire to conform its activities to accepted medical, ethical, safety, or human rights norms have proven futile.
Rather, in direct defiance of laws enacted by Congress to try to correct the situation, what has and continues to be perpetrated at public expense is an atrocity on a scale so vast and varied as to almost defy description. Nevertheless, it is worth attempting to convey to readers some sense of the evil that is being done with their money.
If you have not read the rest of that article yet, you really should. You can find the rest of that article right here.
At this point, nearly every major international organization is involved in these population control efforts to at least some degree. For example, a recent article by Jurriaan Maessen detailed how the World Bank is actually using "financial assistance" as leverage to get developing nations to conform to the global population control agenda
According to two subsequent documents put out by the World Bank, its guidelines dictate that in order to qualify for World Bank lending, sovereign nations must implement population reduction objectives as outlined by the World Bank and UN Population Fund. If they refuse, lending will be withdrawn.
Already pre-tested and implemented in Yemen and Niger, these guidelines are destined for global implementation within the next decade, says the World Bank.
Isn't that sick?
Later in that same article, Maessen discusses how the UN, the WHO, the World Bank and many other international organizations all work together to move this twisted agenda forward
Returning to the essence, the intention and the strategy leave little for the imagination: a global consensus is in place between all the major transnational institutions and banks: the earth's population must be brought down, with all means necessary. The World Bank uses financial tools to bring nations on their knees, demanding they cull their numbers; the UN guarantees the political legitimizing for these depopulation policies (Agenda 21); the Foundations develop the anti-fertility vaccines and GM Food, the World Health Organization takes care of the "health-standards" and distribution. With the help of this global construct, carefully coordinated from the top-down, the scientific dictatorship has circled the wagons around all of free humanity.
Sadly, there is so much more that could be said about all of this. If you are interested in learning more about the disgusting population control agenda of the global elite, the following are 10 more articles I would recommend checking out
More fraud: Sea-level rises are due to global "adjustments"
Frank Lansner’s first graph surprised me. It’s well known and often quoted that sea levels have been rising by 2-3mm a year every year for the last 20 years. But it’s not well known that the original raw satellite data doesn’t show that at all.
Fig 1 The data for recent years has gone through significant changes. In Morner 2004 the raw satellite data for sea level rise was shown with the original slope (the grey line with dots named “Topex/Poseidon as of 2001” above).
What astonished me was the sea levels first recorded by the Topex Poseidon satellite array showed virtually no rise at all from 1993-2001. Surely not, I thought. I asked sea-level expert Nils Axel-Morner, and he confirmed: “Yes, it is as bad as that.“ Now, given that Envisat (the European satellite) showed no rise from 2003-2011 (until it was adjusted) that means we have almost 20 years of raw satellite data showing very little rise.
We thought satellites would finally give us a definitive answer on sea levels. Instead, like the tide gauges, and every other tool available to mankind, apparently satellites systematically underestimate the rising trends. And despite the speed of light being quite quick and all, it can take years for the data to finally arrive. Sometimes 4 or 5 (or 10 years) after the measurement was made scientists “discover” that it was wrong.
Now of course, any one of these adjustments could be for very legitimate reasons and give us results closer to the truth. But the adjustments always bring data closer to the modeled trend. It’s decidedly non-random. Either there is a God who thinks teasing climate scientists is spiffy, or else there is something fishy going on, and some investigative journalists need to ask some investigative questions. Is that sea-level rise due to global warming or is it due to global adjustments?
Much more HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)
America’s Real Climate and Environmental Crisis
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson says we face serious threats to human health, welfare and justice. She’s absolutely right. However, the crisis is not due to factory or power plant emissions, or supposed effects of “dangerous manmade global warming.”
The crisis is the result of policies and regulations that her EPA is imposing in the name of preventing climate change and other hypothetical and exaggerated environmental problems. It is those government actions that are severely impacting Americans’ health, welfare, and pursuit of happiness and justice.
After Congress rejected cap-tax-and-trade, President Obama said there are “other ways to skin the cat.”
By hyper-regulating carbon dioxide, soot, mercury, “cross-state air pollution” from sources hundreds of miles away, and other air and water emissions, EPA intends to force numerous coal-fired power plants to shut down years before their productive life is over; block the construction of new coal-fired power plants, because none will be able to slash their carbon dioxide emissions to half of what average coal-fired plants now emit, without employing expensive (and nonexistent) CO2 capture and storage technologies; and sharply reduce emissions from cars, factories, refineries and other facilities, regardless of the cost.
EPA has also issued 588 pages of rules for hydraulic fracturing for critically needed oil and natural gas, while the Obama Administration has vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline and made 95% of all publicly owned (but government controlled) lands and resources off limits to leasing, exploration, drilling and mining.
These actions reflect President Obama’s campaign promise to “bankrupt any company that tries to build a new coal-fired power plant,” replace hydrocarbons with heavily subsidized solar, wind and biofuel energy, make energy prices “necessarily skyrocket” – and “fundamentally transform” America’s constitutional, legal, energy, economic and social structure.
Energy is the lifeblood of our nation’s economy, jobs, living standards and civil rights progress. Anything that affects energy availability, reliability and price affects every aspect of our lives. These diktats put the federal government in charge of our entire economy – and impair our health and welfare.
Moreover, the anti-hydrocarbon global warming “solutions” the Obama Administration is imposing will bring no real world benefits – even assuming carbon dioxide actually drives climate change. That’s largely because China, India and other developing countries are increasing their use of coal for electricity generation, and thus their CO2 emissions – far beyond our ability to reduce US emissions. These nations rightly refuse to sacrifice economic growth and poverty eradication on the altar of climate alarmism.
Even worse, the health, welfare and environmental justice benefits that EPA claims will result from its regulations are equally exaggerated and illusory. They exist only in the same dishonest computer-generated virtual reality that concocted its alleged climate change, health and environmental cataclysms, and in junk-science analyses that can only be described as borderline fraud.
Implementing EPA’s regulatory agenda will inflict severe economic dislocations and send shock waves through America’s factories, farmlands and families. Far from improving our health and welfare – they will make our economy, unemployment, living standards, health and welfare even worse.
EPA’s new automobile mileage standards alone will result in thousands of additional serious injuries and deaths every year, as cars are further downsized to meet its arbitrary 54.5 mpg requirements. Its anti-coal rulings and anti-fracking attitudes will severely impact electricity generation, reliability and prices; factory, office and hospital operations and budgets; American industries’ competitiveness in global markets; employment, hiring and layoffs; and the well-being of families and entire communities. Especially for areas that depend on mining and manufacturing – and the 26 states where coal-based power generation keeps electricity rates at half of what they are in states with the least coal use and toughest renewable energy mandates—it will be all pain, for no gain.
According to the Wall Street Journal, a White House letter to House Speaker John Boehner inadvertently acknowledged that EPA alone is still working on new regulations that the agency itself calculates will impose $105 billion in additional regulatory burdens and compliance costs. Win or lose in November, the Administration will likely impose these and other new rules after the elections. We, our children and grandchildren will pay for them in countless ways.
Utilities will have to spend $130 billion to retrofit or replace older coal-fired units, says energy analyst Roger Bezdek – and another $30 billion a year for operations, maintenance and extra fuel for energy-intensive scrubbers and other equipment, to generate increasingly expensive electricity.
Duke Energy’s new $3.3 billion coal gasification and carbon dioxide capture power plant will increase rates for its Indiana customers by some 15% the next two years. Hospitals, factories, shopping malls and school districts will have to pay an extra $150,000 a year in operating expenses for each million dollars in annual electricity bills. That’s four or five entry-level jobs that won’t be created or preserved.
Nationwide, 319 coal-fueled power plants totaling 42,895 megawatts (13% of the nation's coal fleet and enough for 40 million homes and small businesses) are already slated to close, the Sierra Club joyfully proclaimed. Illinois families and businesses could pay 20% more for electricity by 2014, the Chicago Tribune reports. Chicago public schools may have to find an extra $2.7 million a year to keep the lights and heat on and computers running.
Higher electricity prices will further strain refineries already struggling with soaring electricity costs and EPA’s sulfur and other regulations, restrictions on refinery upgrades and construction, constraints on moving crude oil to East Coast refineries, and other compliance costs – all of dubious environmental or health benefit. Three East Coast refineries have already closed, costing thousands of jobs and causing the Department of Energy to warn that pump prices are likely to soar even higher in Eastern states.
When we include discouraged workers who have given up looking for jobs and people who have been forced to work fewer hours or at temporary jobs, our unemployment rate is a whopping 19 percent – and double that for black and Hispanic young people. America’s labor force participation rate is at a 30-year low, its 2011 economic growth rate was a dismal 1.7 percent.
Well over a million US workers age 55 and older have now been out of work for 27 weeks or more. Not only do prospects plummet for re-employment of older workers. The longer they are unemployed, the more they are disconnected from society, the further their living standards fall, the more their physical and emotional well-being deteriorates, and the more likely they are to die prematurely.
The cumulative effect is that families have even less money to buy food, pay the rent or mortgage, repair the car or house, save for college and retirement, take a vacation – and keep people comfortable (and alive) on frigid winter nights and sweltering summer afternoons. Health and welfare, family relationships, future prospects and psychological well-being plummet. Because they spend the highest proportion of their incomes on energy, poor and minority families suffer disproportionately.
And yet EPA’s regulations, regulatory agenda and horse-blinder definition of health, welfare and justice ignore these realities – and ensure that this intolerable situation will only get worse. In fact, the only welfare EPA’s rules will ensure is the expansion of our welfare rolls, our unemployment lines and our already record-setting food stamp programs.
Worst of all, our Congress and courts have completely abdicated their obligations to provide oversight and control of this dictatorial agency and Obama Administration. If this is the hope, change and future we can look “forward” to, our nation’s health, well-being and justice will be bleak, indeed.
OMG! LA Bans Plastic
You can reuse them, you can recycle them, but if you own a store in Los Angeles, you had better not get caught with them. I’m talking about plastic bags which the LA City Council voted to ban on Wednesday.
“Handle less” bags that hold produce are exempt. Depending on the size of the store, merchants in the City of Angels have either six or twelve months to start selling reusable bags- or start providing them for free.
LA will have four Environmental Compliance Inspectors who will traverse the city enforcing the ban, which will cost $418,075 just to implement. Plastic bag scofflaws will first receive a warning, followed by a fine of $100. Should that fail to convince the storeowner, a fine of $200 will be levied. After that, retailers face a $500 fine for each day that they continue to show contempt for Mother Earth.
One great thing about plastic bags is that one can use them over and over again. I pack my lunch in them and there is nothing better for holding dirty clothes while traveling. And if I remember the propaganda correctly, plastic bags were going to be recycled into useful things like homes, bottles, and more plastic bags.
Another nifty thing about plastic bags is that people are needed to make and distribute them. According to CNS News, the American Progressive Bag Alliance employs 30,800 workers across the country, a figure that does not include those people who work in recycling centers.
But why should the environmental lobby meet the industry part-way on recycling, when it can get everything it wants handed to it in a bag? Or more appropriately without a bag?
So now Los Angeles merchants can look forward to increased costs, unannounced inspections, more government overhead, and the possibility of fines. All of which dovetail nicely with Governor Brown’s threat to hike taxes.
No wonder businesses are fleeing the Golden State for almost anywhere else. Just as long as they pack light. No telling when the plastic suitcase ban will go into effect.
Obama’s unreal world
Chairman Doc Hastings’s House Resources Committee released secret audio in which an Obama administration Interior Department official stunningly states, in connection to their rewrite of the 2008 Stream Buffer Rule, “this is not the real world, this is rulemaking” as a justification for not considering actual “conditions on the ground.”
“This is not the real world, this is rulemaking” should be the new slogan of Obama’s Committee to Reelect the President.
The ivory-tower approach that has led this administration to engage in an all-out war on mining has born the fruit of Obama losing 40 percent of the Democratic vote to a guy in prison in West Virginia, 42 percent of the Democratic vote in Kentucky to a blank spot on the ballot, and 40 percent to a guy who scraped together the cash to pay the $3,300 filing fee in Arkansas.
Take heart, Obama lovers, the myopic, destroy-the-resource-industry green approach that caused an EPA official in Texas to resign after his almost three-year-old “crucify” enforcement policy came to light is still alive and well.
The EPA just released a predetermination on the Pebble Mine Project in Alaska that far exceeds its authority and is designed to prejudice other regulators who actually are responsible for determining the viability of the project.
Even the EPA’s report admits that it did not provide an in-depth assessment of any mining project, yet it continues on to engage in a scare campaign about the Bristol Bay watershed that looks like an Environmental Defense Fund legal brief. No facts, just rhetoric and fear.
While the “assessment” might affect the proposed Pebble Mine Project, which coincidentally is on state land that is designated for mining and has the support of the state, the real danger is the EPA effectively destroys and usurps the entire NEPA process for getting projects approved. The EPA was so anxious to weigh in before the radicals in charge are turned out in January that they did not even wait for a mining plan to be presented, or evaluate the $130 million worth of environmental assessments done by the company to ensure that any mining plan met all legitimate environmental concerns.
The real danger in the EPA assessment is that it sets the dangerous precedent that the agency can effectively submarine any and all resource development in the country based upon political pressure without regard to the science, logic or needs of our nation.
In a world where Obama talks jobs, while his administration’s regulatory regime actively seeks to destroy them, it is reasonable to expect that one of his minions would declare that reality is completely disconnected from rulemaking.
Because in Obama’s world, it seems that the only thing that matters is the destruction of America’s private-sector natural resources production — consequences be damned. After all, consequences are real, and Obama’s regulators just don’t need to be bothered with them.
Studies indicate minimal health risks from radiation in the aftermath of Japan’s nuclear disaster
Around 170 of Fukushima’s workers have a slightly elevated risk of cancer due to their radiation exposure, says "Nature" magazine below
Few people will develop cancer as a consequence of being exposed to the radioactive material that spewed from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant last year — and those who do will never know for sure what caused their disease. These conclusions are based on two comprehensive, independent assessments of the radiation doses received by Japanese citizens, as well as by the thousands of workers who battled to bring the shattered nuclear reactors under control.
The first report, seen exclusively by Nature, was produced by a subcommittee of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) in Vienna, and covers a wide swathe of issues related to all aspects of the accident. The second, a draft of which has been seen by Nature, comes from the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, and estimates doses received by the general public in the first year after the accident. Both reports will be discussed at UNSCEAR’s annual meeting in Vienna this week.
The UNSCEAR committee’s analyses show that 167 workers at the plant received radiation doses that slightly raise their risk of developing cancer. The general public was largely protected by being promptly evacuated, although the WHO report does find that some civilians’ exposure exceeded the government’s guidelines. “If there’s a health risk, it’s with the highly exposed workers,” says Wolfgang Weiss, the chair of UNSCEAR. Even for these workers, future cancers may never be directly tied to the accident, owing to the small number of people involved and the high background rates of cancer in developed countries such as Japan.
Scientists involved in producing the UNSCEAR report hope that their independent summary of the best available data could help to dispel some of the fear about fallout that has grown over the past year (see Nature 483, 138–140; 2012). As well as providing a preliminary assessment of workers’ exposure, the UNSCEAR report concludes that the Japanese government’s estimate of the radiation released was correct to within a factor of ten, and that further study is needed to fully understand the impacts of the accident on plants, animals and marine life near the power station. When a final version of the report is approved by the full UNSCEAR committee next year, it should provide a useful baseline for future studies.
The Fukushima crisis began on 11 March 2011, when a magnitude-9.0 earthquake triggered a tsunami off the coast of Japan. A 14-metre wave flooded four of the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, knocking out emergency cooling systems and leading to meltdowns and explosions that released radioactivity into the air and ocean. In the year since the accident, the plant has been stabilized, and radioactive emissions have largely stopped.
From last autumn, UNSCEAR has been reviewing all the available data on Fukushima’s radiation — just as it did to produce what was then the definitive report on the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident. In particular, it scoured anonymized medical data for 20,115 workers and contractors employed by the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which runs the plant. It found that 146 employees and 21 contractors received a dose of more than 100 millisieverts (mSv), the level at which there is an acknowledged slight increase in cancer risk. Six workers received more than the 250 mSv allowed by Japanese law for front-line emergency workers, and two operators in the control rooms for reactor units 3 and 4 received doses above 600 mSv, because they had not taken potassium iodide tablets to help prevent their bodies from absorbing radioactive iodine-131 (see ‘In the zone’). So far, neither operator seems to have suffered ill effects as a result of their exposure.
Most of the workers who received high doses were exposed in the early days of the crisis. In those first hours, they were huddled in darkened control rooms, while small teams made forays inside the reactor buildings to survey the damage and manually operate valves and other equipment. Often, they did not know how much radiation was present — the report says that an automated system designed to monitor their radiation levels was not operating properly. By mid-April, basic access control and monitoring had been restored on the site.
Experts agree that there is unlikely to be a detectable rise in thyroid cancer or leukaemia, the two cancers most likely to result from the accident. “There may be some increase in cancer risk that may not be detectable statistically,” says Kiyohiko Mabuchi, who heads Chernobyl studies at the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Maryland. In Chernobyl, where clean-up workers were exposed to much higher doses, 0.1% of the 110,000 workers surveyed have so far developed leukaemia, although not all of those cases resulted from the accident.
The risk to the roughly 140,000 civilians who had been living within a few tens of kilometres of the plant seems even lower. Because detailed radiation measurements were unavailable at the time of the accident, the WHO estimated doses to the public, including radiation exposure from inhalation, ingestion and fallout. The agency concludes that most residents of Fukushima and neighbouring Japanese prefectures received a dose below 10 mSv. Residents of Namie town and Iitate village, two areas that were not evacuated until months after the accident, received 10–50 mSv. The government aims to keep public exposure from the accident below 20mSv per year, but in the longer term it wants to decontaminate the region so that residents will receive no more than 1mSv per year from the accident.
The WHO’s calculations are consistent with several health surveys conducted by Japanese scientists, which found civilian doses at or below the 1–15-mSv range, even among people living near the plant. One worrying exception is that infants in Namie town may have been exposed to enough iodine-131 to receive an estimated thyroid dose of 100–200mSv, raising their risk of thyroid cancer. But data collected from 1,080 children in the region found that none had received a thyroid dose greater than 50mSv. Chernobyl’s main cancer legacy in children was thyroid cancer.
Fearful and angry
The large population involved could mean that the eventual number of radiation-induced cancers among the public will actually be higher than among workers, even though the risk to each individual civilian is tiny, says David Brenner, a radiologist at Columbia University in New York city. But he doubts a direct link will ever be definitively made. Under normal circumstances, “40% of everybody will get cancer”, he says. “It doesn’t seem to me that it’s possible to do an epidemiological study that will see an increased risk.” Still, it may be valuable to conduct studies to reassure the population that they are not being misled, he adds.
A far greater health risk may come from the psychological stress created by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. After Chernobyl, evacuees were more likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than the population as a whole, according to Evelyn Bromet, a psychiatric epidemiologist at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. The risk may be even greater at Fukushima. “I’ve never seen PTSD questionnaires like this,” she says of a survey being conducted by Fukushima Medical University. People are “utterly fearful and deeply angry. There’s nobody that they trust any more for information.”
Overall, the reports do lend credibility to the Japanese government’s actions immediately after the accident. Shunichi Yamashita, a researcher at Fukushima Medical University who is heading one local health survey, hopes that the findings will help to reduce stress among victims of the accident. But they may not be enough to rebuild trust between the government and local residents. Tatsuhiko Kodama, head of the radioisotope centre at the University of Tokyo and an outspoken critic of the government, questions the reports’ value. “I think international organizations should stop making hasty reports based on very short visits to Japan that don’t allow them to see what is happening locally,” he says.
UNSCEAR’s working committee of roughly 70 scientists still has much to do before the final report is completed. Committee members will continue to independently validate sources of data from the accident and work on models of the flow of radioisotopes from the reactors into the environment. For the workers, “individual medical follow-up is more important than the statistical follow-up”, Weiss says. “People want to know whether what we say is true.”
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