Friday, March 01, 2013

What a great heap of steaming crap this is:  'Cancer risks higher' in worst-hit Fukushima area

I have read the full WHO report and it is about what I expected of them.  Their "findings" are all based on theory and modelling.  I can find no mention of any actual data being gathered.  Who needs facts when you have got theory?

Even according to them: "The values presented in the report should be regarded as inferences of the magnitude of the health risks, rather than as precise predictions".

Immediately following the report below, I put up another recent article which DID look at the facts.  No prizes for guessing what it found

People in the area worst affected by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident two years ago have a higher risk of developing certain cancers, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says.

A magnitude 9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami on March 11, 2011, killed nearly 19,000 people and devastated the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, triggering meltdowns, spewing radiation and forcing about 160,000 people to flee their homes.

In a statement, WHO director for public health and environment Doctor Maria Neira said the disaster brought with it higher risks of cancer.

"A breakdown of data, based on age, gender and proximity to the plant, does show a higher cancer risk for those located in the most contaminated parts," she said.

Read the full WHO report
In the most contaminated area, the WHO estimated there was a 70 per cent higher risk of females exposed as infants developing thyroid cancer over their lifetime.

The thyroid is the most exposed organ as radioactive iodine concentrates there and children are deemed especially vulnerable.

The report estimated that in the most contaminated area there was a 7 per cent higher risk of leukaemia in males exposed as infants and a 6 per cent higher risk of breast cancer in females exposed as infants.

The report concluded that for the general population inside Japan, the predicted health risks were low, but one-third of emergency workers were estimated to have increased risk.

But there was no discernible increase in health risks expected outside Japan, the WHO said in a 200-page report, which was based on a comprehensive assessment by international experts.

Jim Smith, professor of environmental science at the University of Portsmouth in England, said: "Apart from emergency workers, the most affected people were those who remained in some highly contaminated towns and villages to the north west of the power station for up to four months before evacuation.

"The report found that these people received a lifetime radiation dose of up to 50 milli-Sieverts (MSV) and therefore have a significant, but relatively small, additional risk of contracting cancer in later life."

He said the average British person receives more than 150 MSV during their lifetime from background radiation.

He said the report did not yet give data on the numbers of people who received particular radiation doses, so it was not yet possible to estimate the overall health consequences.

Dr Neira said the WHO report outlines the need for long-term health monitoring of those who are at high risk, as well as follow-up support.


No signs yet of radiation-induced illness near Fukushima Daiichi plant

In March 2011, Japan was shaken by a once-in-a-lifetime earthquake that triggered a massive tsunami, resulting in the destruction and subsequent meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. At the time, officials were concerned that nearby residents may have been harmed by low levels of radiation, but now, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, should help to allay those fears.

After measuring levels of radioactive cesium-137 (a proxy for radiation exposure) in nearly 10,000 residents who lived approximately 14 miles from the nuclear plant, researchers from the University of Tokyo found that, with the exception of one person, none of the study participants had internal radiation levels exceeding common dose-limit recommendations. The voluntary screening program, which included those aged six and older, was conducted between September 2011 and March 2012.

The authors also observed that no cases of acute health problems have been reported thus far. However, in a second study published in the same journal, researchers from the National Defense Medical College in Japan did find that 47 percent of the nearly 1,500 Daiichi workers surveyed reported symptoms of general psychological distress, including post traumatic stress response.

“Unlike what many anti-nuclear energy activists may have you believe, the real devastation resulting from the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown was the psychological toll it took on the Japanese people,” says ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross. “And though the adverse health effects of radiation exposure may often take many years to manifest, this study was unable to detect even one acute health problem, which should put many folks at ease.”

For an earlier take on ridiculous claims about the accident, take a look at an op-ed in Forbes by ACSH’s Dr. Josh Bloom.


Global Tipping Point Not Backed by Science, Experts Argue

Tipping points are absolutely central to global warming alarm

A group of international ecological scientists led by the University of Adelaide have rejected a doomsday-like scenario of sudden, irreversible change to Earth's ecology.

In a paper published Feb. 28 in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, the scientists from Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom argue that global-scale ecological tipping points are unlikely and that ecological change over large areas seem to follow a more gradual, smooth pattern.

This opposes recent efforts to define 'planetary tipping points' ‒ critical levels of biodiversity loss or land-use change that would have global effect ‒ with important implications for science and policy-makers.

"This is good news because it says that we might avoid the doom-and-gloom scenario of abrupt, irreversible change," says Professor Barry Brook, lead author of the paper and Director of Climate Science at the University of Adelaide. "A focus on planetary tipping points may both distract from the vast ecological transformations that have already occurred, and lead to unjustified fatalism about the catastrophic effects of tipping points.

"An emphasis on a point of no return is not particularly helpful for bringing about the conservation action we need. We must continue to seek to reduce our impacts on the global ecology without undue attention on trying to avoid arbitrary thresholds."

A tipping point occurs when an ecosystem attribute such as species abundance or carbon sequestration responds rapidly and possibly irreversibly to a human pressure like land-use change or climate change.

Many local and regional-level ecosystems, such as lakes and grasslands, are known to behave this way. A planetary tipping point, the authors suggest, could theoretically occur if ecosystems across Earth respond in similar ways to the same human pressures, or if there are strong connections between continents that allow for rapid diffusion of impacts across the planet.

"These criteria, however, are very unlikely to be met in the real world," says Professor Brook. "First, ecosystems on different continents are not strongly connected. Second, the responses of ecosystems to human pressures like climate change or land-use change depend on local circumstances and will therefore differ between localities."

The scientists examined four principal drivers of terrestrial ecosystem change ‒ climate change, land-use change, habitat fragmentation and biodiversity loss ‒ and found they were unlikely to induce global tipping points.

Co-author Associate Professor Erle Ellis, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, says: "As much as four fifths of the biosphere is today characterised by ecosystems that locally, over centuries and millennia, have undergone human-driven regime shifts of one or more kinds. Recognising this reality and seeking appropriate conservation efforts at local and regional levels might be a more fruitful way forward for ecology and global change science."


Green Madness: California Faces Electricity Crisis Due To Renewable Energy

Green/Left wet dreams about to collide with reality

California is weighing how to avoid a looming electricity crisis that could be brought on by its growing reliance on wind and solar power.

Regulators and energy companies met Tuesday, hoping to hash out a solution to the peculiar stresses placed on the state's network by sharp increases in wind and solar energy. Power production from renewable sources fluctuates wildly, depending on wind speeds and weather.

California has encouraged growth in solar and wind power to help reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. At the same time, the state is running low on conventional plants, such as those fueled by natural gas, that can adjust their output to keep the electric system stable. The amount of electricity being put on the grid must precisely match the amount being consumed or voltages sag, which could result in rolling blackouts.

At Tuesday's meeting, experts cautioned that the state could begin seeing problems with reliability as soon as 2015.

California isn't the only state having trouble coping with a growing share of renewables. Texas also needs more resources, such as gas-fired power plants, that can adjust output in response to unpredictable production from wind farms.

Renewable power has seen a boom in both states. On Feb. 9, wind farms in Texas set a record for output, providing nearly 28% of the state's supply for the day. Production hasn't hit that level yet in California, but the state's goal is to get one-third of its electricity from renewable resources by 2020.

"I think we're going to end up closer to 40%," said Robert Weisenmiller, chairman of the California Energy Commission, the state's policy and planning agency for electricity.

A decade ago, California was hit by an electricity crisis marked by price surges and rolling blackouts, stemming from market manipulation and tightening electricity supplies in a newly deregulated market. To prevent a recurrence, state regulators passed rules requiring utilities to line up enough energy to meet even high power demand, with a special emphasis on in-state renewable resources.

"California has been well served by the procurement process since the crisis," said Steve Berberich, chief executive of the California Independent System Operator, which runs the state's grid. "The problem is we have a system now that needs flexibility, not capacity."

Changes in California's market have attracted lots of new generation; the state expects to have 44% more generating capacity than it needs next year. Grid officials say they expect the surplus to fall to 20% by 2022, though it will remain high for about a decade.

However, the surplus generating capacity doesn't guarantee steady power flow. Even though California has a lot of plants, it doesn't have the right mix: Many of the solar and wind sources added in recent years have actually made the system more fragile, because they provide power intermittently.

Electricity systems need some surplus, so they can cover unexpected generator outages or transmission-line failures, but having too much can depress the prices generators can charge for electricity. In part because of low power prices, many gas-fired generation units aren't profitable enough to justify refurbishments required by pending federal regulations under the Clean Water Act. That means they are likely to be shut by 2020, adding to the state's power woes.

By July, state officials hope to have a plan in place addressing the problem. Turf issues among state and federal regulators could complicate the process.

Michael Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates utilities, said action is clearly needed, but he isn't sure whether the market needs "small adjustments or a major overhaul."

Utility executives are calling for immediate action, pointing to the risk of rolling blackouts. "We see the issue hitting as soon as 2013, 2014, 2015," said Todd Strauss, the head of planning and analysis for PG&E Corp., a big utility serving Northern California, who attended Tuesday's meeting. "If we thought it was far out, we wouldn't be here."


Fisker hybrid car project in Delaware was always a sham

This is not a post about whether or not Governor Markell should or should not have invested our tax dollars in stimulating industry and job growth.  That sort of decision will always be debatable along party/ideological lines, and--in fact--all rhetoric to the side both major parties do so on a regular basis.

This is about what appears to have been outright fraud--fraud that should have been easily detectable.

Over the past several years I have spoken, independently, to about a half dozen Fisker employees, all of whom were experienced auto workers and most of whom had previously worked at the Boxwood Road plant.  The earliest was at a Conrad High School football game 2 1/2 years ago; the latest was yesterday.

All of them told exactly the same story.  It goes like this:

In all the time they worked for Fisker, none of the old machinery was removed from the plant.  No new machinery was installed.  Think about that for a second.  To retool a conventional (and elderly) automobile production facility to produce an entirely different line of vehicles is a massive undertaking. It had happened several times in the history of the Boxwood Road plant, and that was just to change between different vehicles in the same line of cars.  The Fisker vision was a completely different type of vehicle.  And yet there were no significant changes made to the facility, according to people who worked there.

(In a way I can verify this personally.  Two years ago I had a niece who went to Conrad and I drove by the plant on an almost daily basis.  You never saw deliveries being made there.  Never.  My niece's best friend lived a block from the plant.  Her family said they never saw deliveries being made there.)

So what did the employees do?  "Mop the floor" is what I have been told by multiple workers.  Mop the damn floor.  They would come in, mop the floor and clean the windows for two hours, take a break, get up when a manager came through, and mop the floor again.  Then they'd take a 2-3 hour lunch before mopping the floor again during the afternoon.

As one of them told me, "They might not ever have produced any cars, but they had the cleanest floor of any automobile factory ever."

There were apparently a couple of areas set up as display areas, where there were big charts and diagrams showing the kind of machinery that would some day be delivered, and how the assembly line would some day look--but tomorrow never came.  Visiting dignitaries came, looked at the charts, listened to the spiel, shook hands with the smiling workers.

And apparently never asked why there was no machinery being installed to manufacture cars.

Why, one wonders, did none of these factory workers ever come forward publicly or drop a dime to the District Attorney's office ... or something?

First, I don't know for sure that none of them did, but two of them explained it to me thus:

"We've all been laid off before.  We've all seen our families go through tough times, and we've all had our unemployment run out before.  As long as they were paying us to feed our families, we weren't going to blow the scam."  Almost embarrassed, one of them told me:  "I thought of it as the two years of unemployment benefits I never got before."

I don't actually blame them:  if a private employer wants to pay you to show up and not work, who wouldn't take the money?

But then one wonders about the due diligence supposed to have been exercised by the State, especially given our multi-million dollar investment.  There seem to be three, and only three, possibilities:

1.  All of the employees and former employees who spoke to me were exaggerating, lying, or mistaken.  It's possible, I guess, that the Fisker plant is actually brimming with new equipment that they really did intend to use to produce new cars.  Of course, I've never even seen a picture of it ...

2.  State authorities were so overconfident and so lax in their exercise of due diligence that they either never seriously examined the situation, or were taken in by the "show" areas of the facility.  That would be disturbing.

3.  State authorities figured out what was going on, and decided to remain silent.  In this scenario you never know how many state officials figured it out, or at what level.  Maybe they feared for their jobs if they told Jack Markell or Al Levin.  Maybe political considerations kept people from talking.  Maybe the fact that some people had jobs was considered a good enough return on our investment, even if Fisker ultimately decided to build the car of the future in China.

But you do have to wonder:  beyond the occasion campaign reference, beyond the occasional editorial or letter to the editor, why the General Assembly has never conducted an investigation to determine if Fisker ever seriously intended produce cars or significant car parts in Delaware?

$25 million in tax money would have produced a lot of construction jobs if put toward major caps or transportation funding.  $25 million would have closed some of the holes in Delaware's Medicaid coverage.  $25 million would even have been an economic stimulant back in the hands of Delaware taxpayers.

$25 million to Fisker--even if some of it eventually gets repaid--is money down the toilet in pursuit of an opportunity that now seems more and more to always have been a chimera.

Maybe it wasn't such a bright idea to turn economic development in Delaware over to the guy who gave us all those Walgreens ...


World+Dog don't care about climate change, never have done

Seventeen years of continuous surveys covering countries around the world show that people not only do not care about climate change today - understandably prioritising economic misery - they also did not care about climate change even back when times were good.

The new information comes in a study released by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago - a large, long-standing and respected non-profit. The results are based on surveys which began in 1993, back in the boom times, and “are the first and only surveys that put long-term attitudes toward environmental issues in general and global climate change in particular in an international perspective,” according to NORC's Tom W Smith.

According to a NORC statement issued yesterday:

    "The economy ranked highest in concern in 15 countries, followed by health care in eight, education in six, poverty in two, and terrorism and crime in one country each. Immigration and the environment did not make the top of the list in any country over the 17-year period; in the United States, the economy ranked as the highest concern, while concern for the environment ranked sixth. In terms of national averages, the order of concern was the economy (25 percent); health care (22.2); education (15.6); poverty (11.6); crime (8.6); environment (4.7); immigration (4.1); and terrorism (2.6), the surveys showed."

Essentially, the environment joins terrorism and immigration on the list of subjects nobody has ever been able to really give a toss about, though the compiling profs did note that in Turkey they do consider terrorism serious: the Turks rate it number one, in fact, though nobody else does.

"Terrorism’s low ranking was notable in light of the widespread attention the issue has received since 2001," comment the NORC analysts, perhaps sounding a knell of doom for environmental activists who believe they can gain support for their agenda through incessant publicity.

The NORC spokespersons add that decades of climate alarmism have had basically no effect on people's attitude around the world:

    "The latest surveys were completed in 2010. Similar surveys have been conducted since 1993, and little change has been noted on people’s concern for climate change ... widespread public support for current action on the issue will represent a major shift in attitude."




Preserving the graphics:  Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here and here


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