Episode 8 – More Beer, More Bananas – Unintended Consequences – Chapter 3 Part 2

Hiroshima Atomic Bombing 1945

All radioactive elements “decay” by emitting [either] an alpha particle (a helium nucleus), a beta particle (an electron) or a gamma ray (pure energy), eventually becoming stable elements.  An element’s “half-life” is the time needed for ½ of the atoms in the “parent” element to decay into a “daughter” isotope. For the Potassium-40 in our bananas and bodies, it is 1.2 billion years. For the Americium-241 in our smoke detectors, it’s 432 years, and for Iodine-131, it’s 8 days.  

Contrary to popular belief, elements with long half-lives, which decay slowly, present less risk than those with short half lives. 

[The half life of Thorium is 14.05 billion years – about the age of our universe]

Radioactivity is measured by the number of decays per second. One decay per second is one Becquerel (Bq). One banana produces about 15 Becquerels from its potassium-40, and smoke detectors emit 30,000 Becquerels, so when nuclear power critics fuss about 64,000 Becquerels entering the ocean at Fukushima, remember that 64,000 Becquerels is equal to 14 seconds of potassium radiation activity that occurs inside our bodies every day. (The radioactivity of normal seawater is 14,000 Becquerels per cubic meter). 

However, focusing on Becquerels without considering the  energy absorbed by the body is pointless: You can throw a bullet or you can shoot one, but only one will cause harm. 

Fortunately, radiation is easy to detect. A single  emission (1 Becquerel) will trigger a click in any decent detector, and an average adult emits 7,000 Becquerels, of which 4,400 Becquerels come from our Potassium-40, which “clicks” 4,400 times per second, for life.  

“The word ‘radioactivity’ doesn’t account for the energy propelling the emissions, so quoting large Becquerel counts  says nothing about risk. However, big numbers can frighten uninformed people, and in building their case against nuclear power, many environmentalists have been doing just that.” Dr. Timothy Maloney

As noted earlier, radiation dose, which we measure  in Sieverts, is the biologically effective energy transferred by radiation to tissue. For example, one mammogram equals 1 to 2 milliSieverts (mSv), and one dental X-ray (0.001 mSv) is nowhere near enough to cause concern. 

Let’s now consider the normal background radiation that accompanies us throughout our years. 

Worldwide Natural Radiation Ranges from 1 to 250 mSv per year

Natural “background” radiation dose rates vary widely,  averaging 1 mSv/year in Britain, 3 in the US, 7 in Finland, 10  in Spain, 12 in Denver and up to 300 mSv per year in Kerala, India and even  higher on a number of “radioactive” beaches around the world  that people flock to for health reasons. Given these statistics, one might expect cancer rates in Finland and Spain to be higher than in Britain, but Britain has higher rates of cancer than both Spain and Finland despite LNT dogma [See Episode 6 where we expose the Linear No Threshold lie].

 Dose Rates and Health 

A massive, single, whole-body radiation dose, as at Hiroshima and Nagasaki [1945 United States of America bombings of Japan], severely damages blood cell production and the digestive and nervous systems. 

A single 5,000 mSv dose is usually fatal, but if it is spread over a lifetime it is harmless because at low dose  rates, damaged cells are repaired or replaced. (Consume a  cup of salt in one sitting, and you will probably die, but do it  over six months or more, and it won’t be a problem.) 

Radiation in Perspective (1 mrem = 0.01 mSV)

How Much Radiation Is Too Much? Regulators have set exposure limits far too low, inspiring irrational fear of a cheap, clean energy source. By Robert Hargraves Sept. 21, 2021

Why Radiation is Safe below 100 mSv per year

In 1945, the U. S. exploded two atomic bombs over Japan, killing 200,000 people. Since then, 93,000 survivors have been studied for health effects. In 55 years, 10,423 of  those survivors died from cancer, which is just 573 (5%) more than the number of deaths expected by comparison with  unexposed residents.

05 Oct 1945, Nagasaki, Japan – A Japanese citizen walks through the damaged lands of Nagasaki, two months after the atomic bomb was dropped over the city. – Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

According to Dr. Shizuyo Sutou, expert in mutations, Shujitsu University, Japan, ”Ionizing radiation is not always hazardous, and low dose radiation sometimes stimulates our beneficial defence mechanisms.”  Hiroshima/Nagasaki survivor data since 1945 shows that, on average, lifespan was extended and cancer mortality was  reduced.

Low Dose Radiation from A-bombs elongated Life span and reduced cancer mortality relative to un-irradiated individuals – Dr. Shizuyo Sutou

In addition, no excess cancer deaths have been observed in those who received radiation doses below 100 mSv. In fact, Japanese A-bomb survivors who received less than 100 mSv, have been outliving their unexposed peers. 

Subsequent studies by the United Nations Scientific  Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) have proved that below 100mSv, which is well above normal background radiation levels, it is not possible to find any  cancer excesses. 

…it is not possible to find any cancer excesses.


Linear No-threshold (LNT) vs. Hormesis: Paradigms, Assumptions, and Mathematical Conventions that Bias the Conclusions in Favor of LNT and Against hormesis

[You can see the rubbish perpetuated by the ICRP dose limits here and here. These fictitious, made-up numbers cause the deaths of millions of people each year and hobble the advancement of our civilisation – all for maintaining the oil industry’s profits.]


We are surrounded by naturally occurring radiation. Less than 1/1000th of the average American’s dose comes from nuclear power.

This yearly dose is 200 times less than a cross country flight…

…is 13 times less than a glass of beer…

… and about the same as eating one banana(21).

Are we really doing our best when it comes to managing radiation safety?

Coming up next week, Episode 9 – Our Natural DNA Repair Capabilities

Links and References

1. Next Episode – Episode 9 – Our Natural DNA Repair Capabilities 
2. Previous Episode – Episode 7 – Beer and Bananas
3. Launching the Unintended Consequences Series
4. Dr. George Erickson’s Website, Tundracub.com
5. The full pdf version of Unintended Consequences
6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium
7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Becquerel
8. https://www.timothymaloney.net/Critique_of_100_WWS_Plan.html
9. https://www.roadmaptonowhere.com/about-us/
10. https://www.radioactivity.eu.com/site/pages/Radioactivity_food.htm
11. Ramsar, Iran natural radiation levels
12. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki
13. https://stmuscholars.org/the-weapon-that-changed-war-u-s-bombings-of-hiroshima-and-nagasaki/
14. https://www.wsj.com/articles/nuclear-regulatory-council-nrc-energy-regulator-radiation-climate-change-11632257020
15. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Shizuyo-Sutou
16. https://radiationeffects.org/low-dose-radiation-from-a-bombs-elongated-life-span-and-reduced-cancer-mortality-relative-to-un-irradiated-individuals-sutou/
17. https://www.unscear.org/
18. https://journals.lww.com/health-physics/Abstract/2019/06000/Linear_No_threshold__LNT__vs__Hormesis__Paradigms,.7.aspx
19. https://www.icrp.org/
20. http://icrpaedia.org/Dose_limits
21. https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML0816/ML081690717.pdf
22. American Nuclear Society
23. Handbook of Radiation Measurement and Protection, edited by A. Brodsky

#GeorgeErickson #UnintendedConsequences #MoltenSaltFissionEnergy #Thorium #MoltenSaltFissionTechnology #LinearNoThreshold

Interview #1, Prof. Akira Tokuhiro of Ontario Tech University. Part of the Student Guild Interview Series, “Leading to Nuclear”

Bruce Power - A Nuclear Generating Station

World’s first reactor was built in 1942 in Chicago by Enrico Fermi and his team. Since then several hundred nuclear reactors were built, shut downed and rebuilt. For the future, six types of Generation 4 fission machines wait to be born. The world needs the energy to develop and maintain life but above all these reasons there is an essential one: going to Mars and supplying all energy that is needed for life. That’s my priority motivation and purpose for choosing the nuclear area to work. History tells us that “never forget to take lessons from past” and future tells us that “enlighten your ways from your mistakes”. The nuclear accidents that happened in the past led us to Gen 4 designs. As students, we are the ones who determine the nuclear reactor’s destiny. One of the Gen 4 designs is Molten Salt Reactor. We are trying to understand what can we do to design and build a molten salt reactor. We do this by interviewing nuclear experts, engineers all over the world. Come and join our story!

Stagg Field, Chicago Pile 1
Enrico Fermi
Molten Salt Fission Energy Technology

The Student Guild’s first interview was with Professor Akira Tokuhiro. He recently stepped down as the Dean of the Faculty of Energy Systems and Nuclear Science at Ontario Tech University in Canada. Also, he was in the American Nuclear Society’s President’s Committee on the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident in Japan. He is an international nuclear energy expert.

President of the Student Guild
The Thorium Network

Interview 001, Prof Akira Tokuhiro of Ontario Tech University – Leading to Nuclear Interview Series

What does nuclear energy expert do?

We do many things. We design Generation 4 (IV) systems. We look at the safety issues of current reactors and reactors that will be constructed. We are always looking for continuous safety improvements. We have 4 questions to be answered about safety and accidents, “what can happen, how often can it happen, how does it happen and what are the consequences?”. We ask these questions and we do the engineering design, safety analysis for that. Now nuclear engineering requires computer programming and engineering analysis. Applications of virtual reality, augmented reality, new applications of artificial intelligence, and machine learning will be used by new nuclear engineers to design and operate reactors.

In one of your interviews, you said “Nuclear reactors are challenging, that’s why I choose the nuclear energy area to work”. What is the most complex and challenging thing in the nuclear area or reactor physics?

For me, the most interesting and challenging thing is you have to know many things. You may find the solution for a small area but nuclear power plant is many different things. If you find a solution for a small area, it may impact other things. That’s why you have to look at many different things and you have to integrate them. That’s challenging for me. That integration that I teach to my students. How do you design a reactor? You design from the reactor core and then outward from the core.

What are the most common safety design features for Gen 4 that at the same time can be used for Gen 3 or Gen 2 reactor safety designs?

We have learned from Generation 2, 3 and 3+ about human factors engineering. There are two things about human beings, one is human beings are unreliable, other is unpredictable. When you apply these to safety systems, you want to design the reactor that minimizes probability for human error. Gen 4 and small modular reactors are designed so that cooling is assured, and do not rely on human operators because they can make mistakes under pressure. You have to design the reactor so that after shutdown decay heat can be removed without human intervention.

What is the biggest problem about safety that must be redesigned immediately now? For example, for PWR Generation 2 designs, what is the biggest safety problem about that reactor, and how can it be redesigned?

My opinion is reactor is designed so that it can shut down when a postulated event occurs. Even if an earthquake happens, the reactor can shut down like the reactors are located at Fukushima. The reactor was shut down after the earthquake. To remove the decay heat that’s remaining, pumps may be required to facilitate cooling for the first 72 hours. After two weeks the decay heat has to be much less. That has to change in all plants. Cooling after shut down is possible, we can do that but we have to make sure that even if we have a terrible earthquake, sufficient cooling has to remove thermal energy from the core. In SMR’s we don’t need pumps, like large reactors; when you have a pump, you also need a source of water in order to maintain cooling to take the heat. The safety problem of Gen 2 and Gen 3 designs is to prevent the meltdown of the core.

“By 2030 or 2035 Gen 4 large reactors or small modular reactors will be built by Russia or China.”

When do you think the first Gen 4 reactor will be built and where will it be built and which design will be built?

I think by 2030 or 2035 some Gen 4 reactors will be built. It may be Gen 4 large reactors but it is also possible that small modular reactor may be built too. It depends on the country. Russia and China have their designs and they are being constructed. It is difficult to call them Gen 4 but recent VVER is an improved design. China is building different kinds of reactors and operating them. So by 2030 or 2035 Gen 4 large reactors or small modular reactors will be built by Russia or China. In the west, new reactors very much depends on investment. For example, in North America before 2035 there will be a small modular reactor constructed and ready to operate as well.

What are your thoughts about thorium molten salt reactors?

Thorium Molten Salt reactors combine interesting reactor design with a fresh look at a new type of fuel. In the least next 3-5 years, we need much more engineering to finish the design and to get the regulatory approval of the completed design. Since my background is from the US, I am familiar with US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and they will importantly ask safety questions about design basis accidents. If you don’t have a pump, as part of the design natural convection cools the reactor so it may be a preferred design. Molten salt reactors are an interesting design and thorium is a different type of fuel. Perhaps by analogy, the nuclear industry is very similar to a restaurant or the automotive sector. You have to have customers and people come to eat at a restaurant. You have to make a popular automobile and people have to trust the safety and they are buying the safety in design that comes with it. Thorium Molten Salt design has to be finished and the design has to convince the regulator that it is a sufficiently safe design and that is constructed.

You are an expert on nuclear safety. Do you think passive safety systems designed for molten salt reactors are sufficient? Are there any other passive systems projects running? Can you please give us the details?

The molten salt reactor concept came from the 1950s and 1960s. Modernized design of the MSR started with Oak Ridge Molten Salt Reactor. (MSRE) They operated a research and demonstration reactor for a few years so fifty years later we are updating this design. I think the concept is solid but needs details; safety cases are convincing. If you have the money and engineers the first step to building a reactor is making a research and demonstration reactor to show that the reactor is very safe. For example, in molten salt reactors, fuel flows in a tank by gravity when an unanticipated event occurs. That is when a PS may be needed. So this means no operator, no human error.

“We need more nuclear power plants because we need a quick transition to a lower CO2 economy or scale.”

About thorium molten salt reactors, what can students do?

Now in the last five years, I think it is very important for students to find friends all over the world and to be interested in solving the challenges posed by climate change. We need to reach net-zero as quickly as possible: even before 2050. I think we have to make progress every five years or it will become very difficult to meet our net-zero carbon economy. We have to make as much progress by 2030. By 2050 we have to make substantial progress or net-zero carbon economy. If we don’t have any progress by 2030 reaching a net-zero carbon economy becomes increasingly difficult. Now we have the power of social media. Students have to ask many questions to old people like me about safety, design. We have to change and seek from the regulator, approval of the new reactors designs. We have a lot of experts from many countries. We already have about 440 nuclear power plants in the world but we need as many as ten times as many reactors to tackle climate change. We need more nuclear power plants because we need a quick transition to a lower CO2 economy or scale. It is not the ultimate solution for climate change but it is a solution that we have now. Young people can become involved through social media and by asking good questions. We need to convince people that by combining nuclear energy, wind, and solar we can reach a net-zero carbon economy. We need nuclear power, it may be risky, but risk and fear are a spectrum. If you think the benefit is greater than the risk then you would do it. People are usually afraid when they don’t understand the risk so they think the risk is very big and the benefit is not so big.

How did you decide to join the Thorium Network? What was the most attractive thing that impressed you about Thorium Network?

I contacted one of the founders Jeremiah Josey. I thought the thorium molten salt reactor is interesting and thorium is an alternative to uranium. It is a network. This network includes many people all around the world. That’s why I joined. The network is a new way to design a reactor.

I had a great time while talking with Professor Tokuhiro. I would like to thank him for his time and perfect answers.

Thorium Network Student Guild continues to inspire people all around the world. Come and join our team! You can find the Student Guild application on this page:

The Student Guild of The Thorium Network

Links and References

  1. Professor Akira Tokuhio on LinkedIn
  2. Rana on Linkedin
  3. The interview on YouTube
  4. Ontario Technical University
  5. Generation IV Fission Technology
  6. Chicago Pile 1
  7. ANS Committee Report: Fukushima Diiachi
  8. Launching “Leading to Nuclear, Interviews by the Thorium Network Student Guild”
  9. The Thorium Student Guild

#ThoriumStudentGuild #LeadingToNuclear #Interview #AkiraTokuhiro #OTU

Launching the Student Guild Interview Series, “Leading to Nuclear”

Nuclear Power Station

We live in a finite world. Our world has a limited time until its end. There are 7.753 billion people who are trying to survive every day out there. Climate change is real and our world continues to warm. If we don’t do something about climate change, we will never live in the same world that we used to live in. Our lives might change completely. We are responsible for all the actions that we have done to the world and nature. So it is time to correct our mistakes and take the action! 

Bill Gates

“Nuclear energy, in terms of an overall safety record, is better than other energy.” 

Bill Gates

We all know that wind and solar are not enough to stop climate change. We need a combination of nuclear, solar, and wind because nuclear energy has zero carbon emissions. That’s what we need! Do your research, ask what you want to ask at the end of the day you will see that nuclear is the only answer. Now we have an even better option which is Molten Salt Fission Energy Technology. It is safe, reachable but needs committed research and development programs worldwide. We need to convince the world that now nuclear power is safer than ever.

Students have the power of changing minds, creating new ideas, and supporting each other. At this point we are going to do all the things that we can do since still we have time. We are going to interview nuclear engineers, nuclear energy experts, and people who are interested in nuclear power to learn how we can reach a net-zero carbon economy with nuclear power. Also, we are going to learn how Molten Salt Fission Energy Technology can be accepted by regulators and what can we do about Thorium-based fuel. We are going to publish blogs about every interview. We interview people as much as we can. This way we will create a new era about Molten Salt Fission Energy Technology and Thorium fuel. It is a long journey but hopefully, at the end of it, we will have smiles on our faces with champagnes in our hands. 

Our first interview is with Professor Akira Tokuhiro of Canada. He recently stepped down as the Dean of the Faculty of Energy Systems and Nuclear Science at Ontario Tech University in Canada. Also, he was in the American Nuclear Society’s President’s Committee on the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident in Japan. As international nuclear energy expert readers of this interview will gain a rare insight few will experience in their lifetime.

Prof. Akira Tokuhiro

Our interview with Professor Tokuhiro will be one of many coming over the next several months as we bring you key insights on an industry rarely discussed outside.

The Student Guild

Thorium Network Student Guild continues to inspire people all around the world. Come and join our team! You can find the Student Guild member application on this page:

The Student Guild of The Thorium Network

Links and References

  1. Leading to Nuclear, Interiew #1, Prof. Akira Tokurio, Ontario Technical University, Canada
  2. Launching “Leading to Nuclear, Interviews by the Thorium Network Student Guild”
  3. The Student Guild
  4. Rana on Linkedin

#StudentGuild #LeadingToNuclear #Interview #MoltenSaltFissionEnergy #Thorium

Episode 7 – Beer and Bananas – Unintended Consequences – Chapter 3 Part 1

Beer and Bananas

A Little Nuclear History 

In the sixties, the United States built a new, super-safe,  highly efficient Molten Salt Reactor (MSR). Fuelled by uranium dissolved in a very hot, liquid salt, the MSR had  performance and safety advantages over water-cooled,  uranium-powered, solid-fuel Light Water Reactors (LWRs) – also called “conventional” reactors.  

The Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment – Oak Ridge National Laboratories

LWRs are cooled with normal (light) water, a term used  to distinguish them from reactors cooled with “heavy” water – deuterium. LWR pellets contain 3.5 – 5% U-235, with the  remainder being “inactive” U-238 for dilution, but deuterium cooled reactors can utilize un-enriched U-238. (Most nuclear  reactors in use today are LWRs). 

Alvin Weinberg, the Director of Oak Ridge National Laboratories, proved the superiority of MSRs in hundreds of tests during 22,000 hours of operation, but due to the success of conventional reactors in Admiral Hyman Rickover’s submarines, water-cooled reactors became the choice for commercial power production. Weinberg, who protested that  MSRs were safer and more efficient, was fired, and the MSR  program was terminated, partly for political reasons [See more about Dr Weinberg’s firing here]. 

Alvin Weinberg

“I hope that after I’m gone, people will look at all the dusty books ever written on Molten Salt and say hey, these guys had a pretty good idea, lets go back to it.” 

Alvin Weinberg, 2004 

There was a second reason: The Cold War was heating up, and the uranium-plutonium fuel cycle of LWRs could be adapted for making bombs. However, making a weapon with MSR technology is more difficult and dangerous.

The Atomic Energy Commission also knew that MSRs could generate abundant, low cost, 24/7 electricity while breeding their own fuel from U-238 or Thorium – and that Thorium would create less waste than conventional reactors. 

If we had switched to MSRs in the 1960’s instead of  burning carbon, we would have eliminated much of the CO2 that created Climate Change and reduced the toxic emissions that have caused medical expenses in the billions of dollars. 

From the April, 2013 Scientific American: Dr. James Hansen, former head of the NASA Goddard  Institute for Space Studies, has said that just our partial reliance on carbon-free nuclear power since 1971 has saved  1.8 million lives that would have been lost due to fossil fuel  pollution. By contrast, we assess that large-scale expansion  of natural gas use would not mitigate the climate change problem and would cause more deaths than expansion of  nuclear power.” 

Dr. James Hansen
Dr. James Hansen
US Health Burden
US Health Burden

Carbon-fuelled power plants cause at least 30,000  premature U. S. deaths/year. 

Because we rejected MSRs, almost all of the electricity  we have generated with nuclear power has been produced by  high pressure, water-cooled LWRs, which require a  containment dome. MSRs do not.  

Unfortunately, according to Michael Mayfield, head of  the Office of Advanced Reactors at the Nuclear Regulatory  Commission, the NRC is “unfamiliar with most, new small reactor technology, [including MSRs] and has no proven  process to certify one.” (2010) 


In 2013, the U. S. Energy Information Administration predicted that world energy use will increase 56% by 2040.  Most of that increase will come from burning carbon-based  fuels, which will add even more CO2 to our already damaged  biosphere. 

We must replace CO2-creating power plants with GREEN nuclear power plants! 

When Radiation Is Safe and When It Isn’t

The largest obstacle to expanding nuclear power is the fear caused by misinformation about radiation safety, so let’s  begin with a question intended for seniors like me: “Do you still  have your toes?” 

This foolish sounding question refers to a machine that,  during the [19]thirties and [19]forties, stood near the entrance of every up-to-date shoe store in America. Called the ADRIAN shoe fitting machine, it was ballyhooed as the perfect way to see if  one’s shoes fit properly.

 Attractive ads with photos of the marvellous machine  proclaimed, “Now, at last, you can be certain that your  children’s foot health is not being jeopardised by improperly  fitting shoes. If your children need new shoes, don’t buy their shoes blindly. Come in and try our new ADRIAN Fluoroscopic Shoe Fitting machine. Use the new, scientific method of shoe  fitting that careful parents prefer.” 

The customers, usually children, inserted their feet into an opening while their parents watched the image in two  viewing ports. Unattended children would often repeatedly switch sides to watch their siblings’ toes wiggle. It was fun,  and no-one gave a thought to X-ray exposure. 

Despite these fairly high exposures to children who frequently hopped onto the machine just for fun, no malignancies or other damage to the feet of foot-radiating junkies like me were ever reported. 

Now, as I travel the country with my presentations on  nuclear power, “renewables” and radiation safety, I always  ask the seniors in my audiences, all of whom instantly  recognize the machine, if they still have their toes. 

During 2016, I queried some 1,000 seniors, but I  never found any evidence of damage. However, my tale of  the shoe-fitting machine always brought laughter and an opportunity to talk about the Merchants of Fear whose hype created a new 20th century word: radiophobia. 

All natural substances contain radioactive material. In fact, beer contains thirteen times as much radioactivity as the cooling water discharged from a nuclear plant – Modern Marvels

“We’ve accepted for decades that millions of people are  allowed to be killed by combustion pollution and mass produced weapons. We’ve accepted for at least 100  years that the planet’s climate and oceans can be  allowed to be changed for the worse because of our love of combustion. We even accept poverty and all its ill  effects, simply due to our general inaction. But the safest form of  energy production, nuclear power, is foolishly married to fear of  nuclear weapons.” 
Dr. Alex Cannara

Radiation from nuclear power is just a tiny part of the “industrial” sliver. 

We are bathed in radiation for our entire lives – 2/3 from cosmic radiation and elements like radon, and the rest  from elements within us plus from consumer products like  smoke detectors and medical use. We all have some 4,400 beta/gamma decays per second throughout our bodies for life, largely from Potassium-40 in foods like bananas and  potato chips. (Living beside a nuclear power plant for a year is less “dangerous” than eating bananas and potato chips.)

Living beside a nuclear power plant for a year is less “dangerous” than eating bananas and potato chips.

Dr. George Erickson

Remedy for Radiation Fear — Discard the Politicized Science

by Jerry M. Cuttler

Giz Explains: Your Fear Of Radiation Is Irrational

by Geoff Watts

Fungi That ‘Eat’ Radiation Are Growing on the Walls of Chernobyl’s Ruined Nuclear Reactor

by Ross Pomeroy

Because radioactive elements are constantly decaying, our ancestral life forms evolved during times when radiation levels were far higher than they are today. As a consequence,  they evolved some very effective ways to repair the damage to the DNA in our cells caused by radiation and oxidation, which is why we are told to favor anti-oxidants like grapes and greens.  (DNA is “short” for deoxyribonucleic acid, a complex, spiral,  chain-like molecule that contains our genetic codes.)  If you irradiate E. coli bacteria for many generations, the  bacteria evolve amazing radiation resistance, surviving huge  doses of radiation, and some fungi even thrive on radiation.

“Fear and paranoia are the two most common forms of radiation sickness.” Mike Conley, Road Map to Nowhere

However, even the highest natural background radiation rate is insignificant compared to the damage caused by our  internal chemistry. DNA bond breaks caused by oxidation and toxins occur more frequently than breaks caused by  background radiation. Our bodies are actively repairing DNA  damage every second of our lives. 

DNA Structure
DNA Structure

If people understood that “…we have billions of cells that die every day and must be replaced, they will be better  able to accept the fact that our bodies have efficient repair  mechanisms that can handle low level radiation”. Science Magazine, March, 2015. (Adults have about 37 trillion cells.) 

Nobel Prize Awarded to Lindahl, Modrich and Sancar for DNA Studies, Nobel Prize, 2015

“Each cell contains a coiled mass of DNA that carries  the thousands of genetic instructions that we need to run our  bodies. These strands of DNA undergo thousands of  spontaneous changes every day, and DNA copying for cell  division and multiplication, which happens in the body millions of  times daily, also introduces defects. 

DNA can be damaged by ultraviolet light from the sun, industrial pollutants and natural toxins like cigarette smoke.  What fights pandemonium are our DNA repair mechanisms. 

“In the 70s, Dr. Lindahl defied orthodoxy about DNA  stability by discovering a molecular system that counteracts  DNA collapse, and Dr. Sancar mapped out how cells repair DNA  damage from UV light.  

“People born with defects in this system, when exposed  to sunlight, develop skin cancer, and Dr. Modrich showed how  our cellular machinery repairs errors that arise during DNA  replication, thereby reducing the frequency of error by about  1,000.” 

Paul Modrich: Mechanisms in E. coli and human mismatch repair

Coming up next week, Episode 8 – More Beer. More Bananas.

Links and References

1. Next Episode 8 – More Beer, More Bananas
2. Previous Episode – Episode 6 – The Big Deceit
3. Launching the Unintended Consequences Series
4. Dr. George Erickson’s Website, Tundracub.com
5. The full pdf version of Unintended Consequences
6. Oak Ridge National Laboratories Molten Salt Experiment
7. https://thethoriumnetwork.files.wordpress.com/2021/09/why-msrs-abandoned-ornl-weinbergs-firing.pdf
8. Tribute to Dr. Alvin M Weinberg, The Thorium Network Patreon
9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Boy
10. https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-mayfield-37a74616b/
11. https://ncrponline.org/publications/reports/ncrp-report-160/
12. https://energycentral.com/c/pip/thorium-vs-renewable-energy-climate-change-dr-erickson-mike-conley-jeremiah-josey
13. https://www.roadmaptonowhere.com/
14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4036393/
15. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?term=Cuttler%20JM%5BAuthor%5D&cauthor=true&cauthor_uid=24910587
16. https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2015/07/your-fear-of-radiation-is-irrational/
17. https://www.realclearscience.com/blog/2020/02/04/fungi_that_eat_radiation_are_growing_on_the_walls_of_chernobyls_ruined_nuclear_reactor.html
18. https://www.realclearscience.com/authors/ross_pomeroy/
19. https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemistry/2015/press-release/
20. https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemistry/2015/summary/
21. Paul Modrich: Mechanisms in E. coli and human mismatch repair

#GeorgeErickson #UnintendedConsequences #MoltenSaltFissionEnergy #Thorium #ClimateChange #MoltenSaltFissionTechnology #beerandbananas

Episode 6 – The Big Deceit – Unintended Consequences – Chapter 2

Radiation Response Models

“No science is immune to the infection of politics and the corruption of power.”

Jacob Bronowski

In 1928, Hermann Muller, the originator of the Linear No Threshold (LNT) theory, exposed fruit flies to 2,750 milliSieverts (mSv) of radiation in just 3 1/2 minutes, which caused gene deletions and deformities. Radiation dose, which we measure in Sieverts, is the biologically effective energy transferred to body tissue by ionizing radiation.)

Although the dose that Muller used was equivalent to receiving 1,000 mammograms in just 3.5 minutes, he called it a low dose, even though it was extremely high. (Even Japanese atomic bomb survivors didn’t receive such a large dose.)

Muller then extrapolated his results down to ZERO mSv without testing low levels of radiation and continued to promote his theory into the fifties, perhaps because he wanted to heighten fear of fallout from testing nuclear bombs. Muller argued that there is no safe level for radiation and claimed that even tiny amounts of radiation are cumulative. (According to LNT dogma, a butcher who cuts his finger fairly often will be dead in ten years from blood loss – despite his continuing to work.)

Ernst Caspari

Muller’s results were disputed by several of his colleagues, one being a researcher named Ernst Caspari, whose work Muller praised. (We learned this after Muller’s correspondence became public late in the 20th century). Muller wrongly asserted that, even at low dose rates over long times, the risk is proportionate to the dose.

In the fifties, no one knew that our cells routinely repair DNA damage, whether caused by radiation or oxidation, a normal body process, so we accepted his theory. (DNA is “short” for deoxyribonucleic acid, a complex, spiral, chain-like molecule that contains our genetic codes.)

By Zephyris – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15027555

Muller’s theory is analogous to the earth-centered solar system that everyone “knew” was true for thousands of years, and it’s regrettable that so many still believe it. From its beginning, the LNT theory was based on a fraud, and it has been perpetuated by anti-nuclear fearmongers.

Excerpt from Muller’s Nobel acceptance speech.

So why wasn’t Muller truthful? During a radio interview on IEEE SPECTRUM’s “Techwise Conversations,” Dr. Calabrese explained it this way:

“Ernst Caspari and Kurt Stern were colleagues, and Muller was a consultant to Stern. Muller provided the fruit fly strain that Stern and his coworkers used. Stern and Muller thought there was a linear dose-response relationship even at low doses….

“In the chronic study, which was done far better in terms of research methodology than an earlier study, they found that the linear relationship was not supported, and what they observed would be supportive of a [safe] threshold dose- response relationship. This created a conflict—not for the actual researchers like Casparibut for his boss, Kurt Stern, who tried to convince Caspari that his study didn’t support the linear model because his control group values were artificially high.

Calabrese Explaining the Fraud of Linear No Threshold Theory

As recently as September 1 2020, Edward Parsese shows National Academy of Science (NAS) panel members ignored human data that challenged their already-set conclusions. This costs our planet, and our future generations Trillions of dollars and literally the future of our planet. It needs to stop.

“So Caspari… got lots of unpublished findings from Muller and put together a case that his boss was wrong. Ultimately, he got Stern to accept his findings that supported the threshold dose response. [Which actually meant that there was a threshold below which low levels of radiation were safe.]

“They sent Caspari’s paper to Muller on Nov. 6, 1946. On Nov.12 he [Muller] wrote to Stern indicating that he went over the paper, and he saw that the results were contrary to what he thought would have happened, that he couldn’t challenge the paper because Caspari was an excellent researcher, that they needed to replicate this, and that this was a significant challenge to a linear dose response because this study was the best study to date, and it was looking at the lowest dose rate that had ever been used in such a study.

“A month later, Muller went to Stockholm to accept his Nobel Prize, and in his speech, he tells the scientists, dignitaries, press… that one can no longer accept any consideration of a threshold model, that all you can really accept is the linear dose- response model. …Yet Muller had actually seen the results of a study that he was a consultant on, that was the best in showing no support for the linear model – but support for a [safe] threshold model.

“He had the audacity to actually go in front of all these dignitaries and mislead the audience. He could have said, ‘This is a critical area, and we need to do more research to try to figure this out.’ It would have been intellectually honest and the appropriate thing to say, but that’s not what he says. He tries to actually mislead the audience by saying there’s not even a remote possibility that this alternative exists, and yet he has seen it.”

Note: as of 12 Feb 2022 this interview is no longer available on IEEE Spectrum (???)

Radiation’s Big Lie
Did a Nobel laureate knowingly lie about the dangers of radiation in 1946?

Because Muller had also strongly (and appropriately) opposed the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons, and because he wanted to persuade Congress and the American public to oppose the expansion of nuclear energy, he seems to have concluded that the end would justify his lie, even if it compromised his integrity.

National Academy Of Sciences ‘Misled The World’ When Adopting Radiation Exposure Guidelines

No safe level of radiation exposure? Researcher points to suppression of evidence on radiation effects by Nobel Laureate

US Risk Assessment Policy: A History of Deception” by Edward Calabrese (Univ. of Chicago Law Review Online, Vol. 79 [2017]

In November, 2014, Dr. John Boice, president of the National Council on Radiation Protection, stated, ”…the reason they were concerned about the risk of radiation doses all the way to zero was because they used a theory [LNT] for genetic effects that assumed that even a single hit on a single cell could cause a mutation, and they did not believe there was any such thing as a beneficial mutation.”

When the LNT model was adopted by the National Academy of Sciences in 1956, its summary stated: “Even small amounts of radiation have the power to injure.” The report, which was published in the New York Times, inflated the fear of radiation, even at extremely low levels.

NAS Adopts Fraudulent LNT Theory

However, newly discovered letters between some of the members of the National Academy of Science committee indicate that the reason for adopting the LNT model was not that small amounts of radiation might be dangerous, but that Muller’s deception (and possibly self-interest), had trumped science – with one individual writing, “I have a hard time keeping a straight face when there is talk about genetic deaths and the dangers of irradiation. Let us be honest—we are both interested in genetics research, and for the sake of it, we are willing to stretch a point when necessary… the business of genetic effects of atomic energy has produced a public scare and a consequent interest in and recognition of the importance of genetics. This is good, since it may lead to the government giving more money for genetic research.”

In 2015, while reading Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies, a Pulitzer Prize winner about our long battle with cancer, I came upon the following passage:

“In 1928, Dr. Hermann Muller, one of Thomas Morgan’s students, discovered that X-rays could increase the rate of mutations in fruit flies…” [Morgan, by studying an enormous number of fruit flies, had discovered that the altered genes and mutations could be carried from one generation to the next.]

“Had Morgan and Muller cooperated, they might have uncovered the link between mutations and malignancy. But they became bitter rivals Morgan refused to give Muller recognition for his theory of mutagenesis…

“Muller was sensitive and paranoid; he felt that Morgan had stolen his ideas and taken too much credit. In 1933, having moved his lab to Texas, Muller walked into a nearby woods and swallowed a roll of sleeping pills in an attempt at suicide. He survived, but was haunted by anxiety and depression.”

Knowing this, I wonder if Muller’s need for recognition and his resentment of Morgan, who received the Nobel Prize for his work on fruit fly genetics in 1933, might have caused him to hide the work of Ernst Caspari and others because it would have jeopardised his “fifteen minutes of fame.”

Muller received his Nobel Prize in 1946, but his deception has promoted the fear of all forms of radiation, however feeble. In addition, it has caused the deaths of millions and accelerated Climate Change by stunting the growth of CO2-free nuclear power, which has required us to burn huge amounts of polluting,health-damaging coal, oil and natural gas.

(Muller’s claim that tiny amounts of radiation are cumulative is like arguing that 50 jumps off of a one-foot step will be as damaging as one jump from a 50-foot cliff.)

For the great enemy of the truth is often not the lie – deliberate, contrived, and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the clichés of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.

US President John F Kennedy 1960-1963

“To overturn orthodoxy is no easier in science than in philosophy or religion.” Ruth Hubbard

Due largely to LNT, only a few new nuclear power plants have been designed and built since the NRC was created. There are at least 1,000 papers that prove LNT wrong—all of them ignored by NRC and EPA. On average the NRC creates one new regulation per day, and it can cost a billion dollars just to get approval for a test reactor of a new design.

Coming up next week, Episode 7 – Beer and Bananas.

Links and References

1. Next Episode – Episode 7 – Beer and Bananas 
2. Previous Episode – Episode 5 – The Big Melt and the Acid Bath
3. Launching the Unintended Consequences Series
4. Dr. George Erickson on LinkedIn
5. Dr. George Erickson’s Website, Tundracub.com
6. The full pdf version of Unintended Consequences
7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_Bronowski
8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ascent_of_Man
9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linear_no-threshold_model
10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sievert
11. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_Caspari
12. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNA
13. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Calabrese
14. https://www.umass.edu/sphhs/person/edward-j-calabrese
15. https://www.linkedin.com/in/ed-calabrese-697a1119/
16. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rKQ-OPmjE4
17. https://www.umass.edu/news/article/new-calabrese-paper-continues-criticism
18. https://spectrum.ieee.org/podcast/at-work/education/radiations-big-lie/
19. National Academy Of Sciences ‘Misled The World’
20. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110920163320.htm
21. US Risk Assessment Policy: A History of Deception” by Edward Calabrese
22. https://ncrponline.org/2018-council-members/
23. https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-boice-29b91a14/
24. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siddhartha_Mukherjee
25. https://www.linkedin.com/in/siddhartha-mukherjee-19b6b8126/
26. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Hubbard
27. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1559325818779651
28. https://www.heartland.org/publications-resources/publications/low-level-radiation-benefits-human-health
29. https://21sci-tech.com/articles/nuclear.html
30. https://radiationeffects.org/
31. https://www.x-lnt.org/
32. Molly Cheshire Interviews Scientist on Radon and LOW Cancer Rates!
33. https://atomicinsights.com/atomic-show-224-dr-john-boice-ncrp/
34. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2663584/
35. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27493264/
36. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29475999/
37. https://bimedis.com/latest-news/browse/217/reexamining-the-linear-no-threshold-model

#ClimateChange #UnintendedConsequences #GeorgeErickson #FissionEnergy #NuclearEnergy #FossilFuels #LinearNoThreshold

The Danger of Hype – Why Fusion is getting a bad name

It’s unfortunately when good science is spun to create bad press.

Fusion is nowhere near a solution. In the very same article Qout (thermal and not electrical) is 11 MW. Qin is 1 GW. Hence Q = 0.011.

It’s just media hype, BBC style. Europe’s ITER has collected Euro 65b of public money on the fusion lie. Well not a lie, but misinformation. To maintain funding. If politicians – and the handful of duped investors – really new the science it would be given a few million, but that’s a digression…

From the data in the BBC/Oxford/JET article the ratio of energy out to energy in is only 1.1%, and only for 11 seconds…

Q= 0.011


One suspects BBC/Oxford trying something similar to collect some of the billions going into UK fission projects for the JET project. There’s 300 scientists working on JET after all.

(Point to note: 14,000 people worked on the first molten salt project in 1954. It’s not because they didn’t have iPads).

The downside of hyping such projects is it delays public acceptance of fission (the same way the fossil fuel industry plays the green renewable card to the public).

Most investors are more savvy – it’s their purpose to be savvy. Eg, now Bill Gates, and of course the Turkish, Chinese, Russians and French.

Note that ITER is aiming for Q-Plasma parity. Not Q-Total… A small detail even the director of ITER opening ignores, and I am sure an ignorance he promotes. What’s his budget after all? Watch the YouTube in this article:

Here’s the original BBC article:


#fusion #ITER #jet #fission #science

Whilst it’s not our focus – ours is production of energy using Molten Salt Fission Energy technology and Thorium – we’ve found it appropriate for a couple of focused articles – this one on JET and one on ITER – to highlight the inappropriate gap between the science and the spin.  Both articles are be found here.

This spin on fusion distracts from real progress on carbon free power production for our societies. It diverts attention from real technologies. It confuses the public. It diverts public money – and a few duped private investors – who, given full knowledge, would provide their support to such projects more judiciously.

For more comprehensive study on the inadequacies of fusion for power production we refer you to the work of Steven B. Krivit and this site New Energy Times.

Going Backwards with Wind and Solar

So, let’s go back to basics. Energy = Life. I don’t think anyone disagrees. More energy = more life, and for humans, it means a better society. There are ample studies on this, but we do like to study the obvious, don’t we. It’s the not-so-obvious that this post is about.

Specifically, let’s talk about the ratio of energy obtained compared to the effort expended to obtain that energy in the first place. Hence let’s define EROI: Energy Return on Investment. EROI is far more encompassing than ROI or LCOE. I’ll leave it to others to explain those two. EROI provides “full boundary enclosure” – and that means you include the entire planet – to properly assess the impact and suitability of an energy system. The evidence of this can be described through an empirical timeline of humanity. For an eon of human development no fire meant an EROI ranging from 1 (let’s call it one human power -> direct effort in = direct effort out) to 4 (horses have about 4 times as much power as a human).

Then fire is harnessed. What happens? Civilisations are born. Massive growth in population and subsequently culture, technology and thus quality of life. The EROI? It’s between 7 and 12 for burning biomass (i.e. trees). It depends on the water content, cell density etc. It turns out that the magic number for humans to Thrive is about 7:1. Seven is the bare minimum for a society to move from survival to thriving. Otherwise the search effort for energy is too much for anything more than a simple lifestyle (Think: Inuit, Australian Aboriginals, or American Indians, et al).

Another eon passes, and coal is harnessed. With an EROI of 30:1 suddenly there’s excess energy. What happened? The Industrial Revolution. Steel production. Steam power. Drill bits, oil derricks and…. oil… Rocket ship stuff.

Oil: with an EROI of 80:1 what a panacea it became! (Saving the whales along the way – another story for another day). But hold your breath because burning oil stinks and so does coal.

The story is almost done.

With such a high EROI (80:1) our civilisation truly becomes global. And… we are able to develop Fission Energy! (Nuclear for those not in the know). Solid fission is about 75:1, so again incredible and just perfect for our civilisation – no CO2 is produced. Unfortunately, oil had already a 100 year head start and the piles of money stashed away were quite ready, willing and able to snuff out any competitor. Which they did with great efficaciousness. (That’s another story too).

So, that’s the short story of humanity based on energy, but more importantly EROI – Energy Return on Investment.

What is the EROI of solar? Check the chart below. It’s 1.6:1. Not good. What about wind? 3.9:1. Not good either. These systems do produce energy and yes, a house, a village, perhaps a city can be “green” using only wind and solar. But their neighbours take the burden of everything that can’t be made in that society. Because nothing can work at such a low EROI, except providing for a nice simple lifestyle. Even food production will suffer.

If the entire world switched to EROIs below 7, the net result will be a generational decline in living standards for everyone. This is actually impossible, as there are many who understand EROI. There are however countries that will try to do it. The impacts can be seen after only 20 years in Germany.

Now let me introduce an EROI of 2000:1…

CEO and Founder, Mr. Jeremiah Josey

Mr. Jeremiah Josey
Founder and CEO
The Thorium Network

#wind #solar #eroi #moltensaltfission

Episode 5 – The Big Melt and The Acid Bath – Unintended Consequences – Chapter 1

“The same oceans that nourished human evolution are poised to unleash misery on a global scale unless the carbon pollution destabilizing Earth’s marine environment is brought to heel.”

United Nations Draft IPCC Report, 2019

In 1866, Svante Arrhenius, a Swedish chemist, estimated that doubling our Earth’s atmospheric carbon dioxide would raise its temperature by 9 degrees F, which is why CO2 and its “associates” are called greenhouse gases (GHG).

Svante Arrhenius

Then, in 1958, Dr. Charles Keeling, the American chemist and oceanographer began to record the level of atmospheric CO2 at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory, which, being 10,300 feet above sea level and far out in the Pacific Ocean, avoided misleading data from mainland sources that could skew his research. Although Keeling proved that CO2 levels were soaring, his work had little influence for more than 20 years.

Acting like blankets, greenhouse gases limit how much of the Earth’s heat can escape into space. If the blanket becomes too thin for too long, too much heat escapes, and an Ice Age follows. However, if it thickens excessively, as it already has, too much heat is trapped, and the Earth develops a fever.

If we give water vapor a rating of 1, carbon dioxide would rate a 5, but methane, (CH4 – the primary component of natural gas), is initially 80 times worse than CO2, averaging 20 times worse as it slowly oxidizes to CO2 and H2O, which takes decades.

However, despite the fact that CO2 is 5 times more potent than water on a molecule to molecule basis, water vapor is a more powerful accelerator of climate change because there is a lot more water vapor, and as the planet warms, even more is created. That extra water vapor traps additional heat, which raises ocean and land temperatures even higher.

A list of Travesty, part 1:

For millions of years, our planet has been nurtured by a gassy comforter that, like Goldilocks’ bed, has been just right. Those gases have served us well, especially since the last Ice Age, varying only a little while periodically providing nothing worse than a string of harsh winters or abnormally hot summers before returning to normal. That has changed, and the rate of change is rapidly increasing.

Thanks to air trapped in ice from Greenland and Antarctica, we know that the level of atmospheric CO2 has been hovering near 280 parts per million (ppm) since the age of the dinosaurs. However, that number slowly began to rise about 250 years ago when the Industrial Revolution allowed us to burn increasing amounts of carbon. By 1950, atmospheric CO2 levels had reached 300 ppm.

Spurred on by increasing industrialization and burgeoning populations, that number reached 421 ppm in May, 2021. Now that we are no longer hampered by an anti-environment President, his carbon-loving, anti-science cabinet and a badly distracted Congress, we can and must elevate planet above profit if we and the environment that supports us are to survive.

As temperatures rise, heat-reflecting snow and ice become water, which absorbs 90% of the greenhouse gas (GHG) heat and creates water vapor. Warming the oceans increases their volume, which will bring coastal flooding plus serious economic and social upheaval.
Nevertheless, Florida’s Governors have ordered employees to avoid discussing climate change, and Miami is launching a building boom despite street flooding from increasingly higher tides.

The loss of snow and ice exposes land, which, as it warms, produces more water vapor, which brings heavier rains and stronger thunderstorms and tornadoes. In addition, our warming planet will experience a decrease of snowfall, which will reduce the mountain runoff needed to replenish reservoirs that store precious water for agricultural, industrial and personal use.

As the land-based ice in the Antarctic and Greenland melts, rising sea levels will destroy coastal cities, create millions of refugees and cause civil unrest. The insurance industry knows this, and it has already begun to adjust its rates.

Rising seas will displace 300 million people by 2050

International Panel on Climate Change

A list of Travesty, part 2:

The world is at its hottest for at least 12,000 years

The Guardian, 2021

For eons, Nature has relied on three primary methods to capture CO2. The first is photosynthesis by forests, crops and ocean plants that range from huge kelp “forests” to tiny phytoplankton, but we are clear-cutting forests equal in area to West Virginia every year while polluting our oceans. The second also involves the oceans, which can absorb huge amounts of CO2, and the third depends on CO2-hungry basalts that have been stripped of their carbon dioxide by the heat of volcanoes.

However, adding CO2 to water creates carbonic acid, which impedes the formation of the calcium carbonate shells of crabs, shrimp, lobsters, oysters, scallops, and most importantly, tiny organisms like the phytoplankton that comprise the foundation of the ocean food chain.

Acidifying our oceans is already causing greater damage than sea level rise, and it will have far more serious consequences.

We now have evidence that the concentrations of CO2 and other greenhouse gases will, within a few decades, equal those that caused the Permian extinction that occurred some 250 million years ago – when more than 90% of all oceanic species died due largely to huge eruptions of CO2 and methane in Siberia.

Because these conditions developed over hundreds of thousands of years, many organisms had time to evolve, but our anthropogenic (human-caused) Climate Change, being much more rapid, will leave too little time for many species to evolve. (The Cretaceous-Paleogene die-off 56 million years ago also followed a significant drop in the pH of the oceans.)

Like it or not, the problems we face are the direct result of our creating 2.1 trillion tons of Industrial Age CO2, to which we are adding 50 billion tons per year. Only 1/3 of that CO2 has dissolved in our seas, and as the remainder is absorbed, our oceans will become even more acidic (less alkaline) and increasingly hostile to life.

In April, 2021, atmospheric CO2 levels reached 418 ppm.

Our oceans have been slightly basic for millions of years, having an average pH of 8.2. (7.0 is neutral, being neither acid nor basic). However, in the last 250 years, our excesses of CO2 have made our oceans more acidic as their pH has dropped from 8.2 to 8.1.

That might seem trivial, but because the pH scale is logarithmic, not linear, this represents a large increase toward acidity, and a pH of 8.0 or 7.9 couldl mean death to many species, including phytoplankton, and near-death to the oceans that provide 20% of our protein and 50% of our oxygen.

Even if we stop burning carbon today, we will still have almost 1.2 trillion tons of excess, man-made CO2 in our atmosphere to deal with. It is no exaggeration to say that we only have about 15 years, not decades, to prevent the next 0.1 drop in pH.

Billion Dollar Black Out Climate Disasters

“It is not up for debate: It is a cold, hard fact that both climate change and ocean deoxygenation are happening.”

Ocean Scientists for Informed Policy
Horrifying Study Finds that the Ocean is on its Way
to Suffocating by 2030 – by A. Haro – The Inertia

If we continue on the road we are on, the oceans could begin to suffocate in 15 years.

Matt Long, National Center for Atmospheric Research

A list of Travesty, part 3:

Since 1980, we have melted 72% of the Arctic’s ice, and in 2014, scientists at California’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who monitor the rate of arctic melting reported that at least 50 cubic miles of the Greenland ice sheet melted during just 2013. And in early April, 2017, the Coast Guard International Ice Patrol, which tracks icebergs, sighted 450, which is far more than the historical average of 83 in the same area at that same time of year.

US Coast Guard Icebreaker Healy Expedition 2021


As the Arctic warms, the tree line is slowly moving north, as are robins, black bears and a host of “southern” insects. I have seen these changes and many more.

Beginning in 1961, I spent parts of the next 38 summers “bush flying” in northern Canada and Alaska. There, winters are now at least five weeks shorter than they were just 50 years ago, and the shrinking ice pack is leaving many polar bears insufficient time to fatten up on seals, with some bears coming off of the springtime ice severely underweight. Some are drowning, having become too weak to survive what was once an easy 100-mile swim to shore for a healthy bear.

Once ashore, these weakened bears face a new hazard: Grizzly bears are expanding their range, and even a healthy polar bear is no match for a grizzly.

When the winter of 2016 began, the North Pole was 36 degrees F above normal, and in July, 2017, an ice shelf the size of Delaware broke free from Antarctica.

With NOAA reporting that 2019 was, globally, the hottest year ever recorded, (with arctic temperatures running as high as 16 degrees F above normal), and that 2020 has been the hottest on record, what hope is there for these magnificent animals – and for many other species that are not as photogenic or obvious? In March, 2020, Antarctica broke previous records with a high of 68 degrees F.

In Oregon, Washington and British Colombia, oyster farmers must now add lime to their tanks of ocean water to counter its increasing acidity. And according to the World Wildlife Fund, over fishing just between 1970 and 2014 has reduced the number of fish and other ocean species by 50%, with tuna and mackerel down by 74%. In addition, several new studies show that even current levels of oceanic CO2 can even “intoxicate” fish, which can impact their ability to survive.

Plankton Surface Mass

The year scale in this image ranges from 1850 to 2100. The dark blue line shows decreasing pH – increasing acidity – and the green line reveals the decrease in carbonate available for making shells. In the chart, “NOW” is 2014. We will be farther down the dark blue line when you read this book.

In 2014, Canadian scientists discovered that the volume of arctic phytoplankton had dropped an alarming 40% since 1950, and since then it has continued to drop by 1% per year.

Why should we care about these tiny organisms? Because phytoplankton provide the base of the food pyramid that sustains most oceanic life, and no phytoplankton will eventually mean “no fish.” In addition, as previously noted, phytoplankton produce 50% of our oxygen and consume most of the carbon- dioxide we produce by using carbonates to build their shells.

When they die, their tiny shells accumulate on the ocean floor, eventually becoming limestone – the end result of the most effective carbon sequestration process on earth. That process can sequester a billion tons of CO2 per year, which sounds impressive, but, as noted earlier, we are emitting 50 billion tons of CO2 every year. Worse yet, since prehistoric times, the amount of oxygen in our atmosphere has declined by a third, almost entirely due to deforestation and the decrease in phytoplankton.

  • Dungeness Crabs

Carbon emissions are acidifying the ocean so rapidly that the seafloor is disintegrating.

National Academy of Science, 2018

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is 50% dead. Caribbean corals are 80% dead (PBS May, 2021). By 2050, shellfish calcification and survival could become impossible. Our carbon dioxide emission rate is even greater than the volcanic emission rate that caused the Permian extinction 250 million years ago when the world lost 90% of its species.

A list of Travesty, part 4:

Even if we find a way to emit less CO2 than is being absorbed, our oceans will continue to acidify because the CO2 we have already created will persist in our atmosphere for hundreds of years, and in the oceans for tens of thousands of years, which is why we must develop some form of corrective geo-engineering. However, that will require huge amounts of CO2-free, non-polluting nuclear power.

Demystifying ocean acidification and biodiversity impacts

Reducing acidification must become a worldwide priority if we are to avoid a life-changing oceanic and humankind disaster. Extinctions of sea life are certain if we do nothing.

Acidic Oceans: Why Should We Care?

“We cannot cheat on DNA. We cannot get around photosynthesis. We cannot say I am not going to give a damn about phytoplankton. All of these mechanisms provide the preconditions of our planetary life. To say we do not care is to say that we choose death.”

Barbara Ward

Potential Remedies by Dr. Alex Cannara

1. Mimic the natural carbon sequestration process of the oceans: Use CO2-free, highly efficient nuclear energy to heat limestone or dolomite to release lime (calcium oxide and magnesium oxide), which we distribute across the ocean to neutralize the carbonic acid. The CO2 produced when limestone is heated would be sequestered in porous basalt, with which it chemically combines. Refining enough lime from limestone will require about 900 1-Gigawatt (GW) nuclear plants, and that’s only enough to neutralize our present emissions.

[A team led by Dr. Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, used an alkaline substance to alter the chemistry of seawater at a small atoll in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The resulting decrease in seawater acidity mimicked pre-industrial ocean conditions – so this remedy could work.]

[If we had adopted the Atomic Energy Commission’s 1962 recommendation to expand nuclear power, we’d already have those nuclear plants, we’d have created less CO2, and we’d have saved MILLIONS of lives that have been lost due to carbon-related pollution.]

2. Spread finely ground basalt into the oceans. Basalt, which is created by volcano1es, is “carbon hungry,” so basalt would remove CO2 from the oceans. Lime and basalt, being basic, would assist shell formation by neutralizing the carbonic acid. Volcanic ash, which is primarily powdered basalt, can also be used to improve soil quality, so scattering “powdered” basalt across farm fields could help remove the excess carbon dioxide from our troubled atmosphere.

To Combat Climate Change, Researchers Want to Pull Carbon Dioxide From the Ocean and Turn It Into Rock

“Our current anthropogenic carbon dump rate is about 33.4 gigatons of CO2/year. Each ton of powdered basalt can “fix” about 0.2 tons of carbon (0.73 tons CO2), so we’ll need to mine, grind, and disperse about 46 billion tons of basalt powder/yr to keep up with our current CO2 dump rate (about the total amount of sand & gravel now mined/yr). At 100 kWhr/ton, the power needed to convert that much rock to powder would require the electrical output of 500, 1 GWe nuclear reactors. However, basalt contains many minerals, some of which might be harmful to sea life, so basalt might have to yield to lime, which is as natural as the organisms that incorporate it in their carbonate shells and skeletons. In any case, marine biologists should oversee these actions and the production of the materials.

Enhanced chemical weathering as a geoengineering strategy to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide, supply nutrients, and mitigate ocean acidification

“For this to work on land, fields should be warm, watered, tilled and biologically active. The world’s 400 million acres of rice fields seem to fit that bill. Land currently devoted to corn and soybean production would probably also be suitable.

“This approach is more affordable than scenarios that invoke electrochemistry or the calcination of limestone. In addition, it would appeal to countries that want to increase agricultural productivity.

3. “Pump water and CO2 from the air into the basalt that underlies huge areas of the globe. The volcanic basalt, will combine with the carbonic acid to LOCK UP the CO2. This is not same as just pumping compressed CO2 down a hole and hoping it stays there.“Iceland studies reveal that up to about 150 pounds of CO2 can be stored in just one cubic meter of basalt, and if we could also apply this process to the basalt in ocean ridges, we could sequester the 5,000 Gigatons of CO2 created by burning all of the fossil fuel on Earth. If this were done worldwide, it could drastically shorten the timescale of carbon trapping. Instead of taking centuries, CO2-trapping via basalt carbonation could be completed within a few decades, but it will require huge amounts of CO2-free electrical power.” In 2017, scientists at Caltech and USC found a way to speed up part of the reaction that helps sequester CO2 as limestone in the ocean. By adding the enzyme carbonic anhydrase, the researchers made the sequestering process proceed 500 times faster, and in 2018, a new process for sequestering carbon dioxide in concrete was developed.

Climate Change Will Cost Us Even More Than We Think

We must also electrify cement making, which requires huge amounts of energy, by using electricity generated by CO2– free nuclear power, then sequester the CO2 released during the process in basalt and use the lime to assist the ocean.

To summarize: Our planet’s ocean life can sequester a billion tons of CO2 per year by making shells, skeletons, limestone, etc. However, the 1/3 of the 2 trillion tons that the ocean has already absorbed has already lowered ocean pH close to extinction levels for many organisms.

Ocean warming has worsened the threat, and 2050, not 2100, is the key oceanic end-of-life date, and this doesn’t include the warming caused by methane liberated by thawing permafrost and sub-sea methane hydrates.

Therefore, getting CO2 levels down to 350 is probably meaningless if we don’t protect ocean chemistry.

To sequester CO2 one must chemically remove about 500 CO2 molecules from every 1,000,000 molecules of air – and then store them FOREVER.

We will also need to connect the removal sources to basalt formations that permanently store CO2 as rock. Then, we must address methane leakage, which is adding about 200 ppm of equivalent CO2 to the air because our natural gas wells and our porous distribution systems are leaking so severely.

We must get serious. Our yearly 40+ trillion tons of CO2 emissions have already brought ocean chemistry 2/3 of the way to the death of the oceans that create 50 % of our oxygen.

Bad news: If we add the effects of methane leaking from fracking wells and our porous distribution system, and methane released from thawing permafrost, our May, 2021 CO2 level of 421 ppm would, in effect, be over 500.

More bad news:   Because humans cool their bodies by sweating, rising heat and humidity will increase stress while decreasing comfort and efficiency. Further increases will cause medical issues that can even be fatal.

Even more bad news: 50 % of the Arctic’s shallow permafrost is predicted to thaw by 2100. As it does, some of its 40 million gallons of previously immobilized, hazardous mercury will be released into the polar ocean and the atmosphere.

At least 30,000 plant and animal species are threatened with extinction.

Center for Biological Diversity, 2020

A list of Travesty, part 5:

Climate Forecast: World Is “Sleepwalking into Catastrophe”

Scientific American, 2019

In 1942, the St Roch became the first vessel to transit the Northwest Passage from West to East, but it took the small, shallow-draft vessel 2 years.

Large ship travel through the Passage is now common.

What we have been doing is like “taking a one-week fling, and, in the process, contracting a horrible disease.”

Bill McKibben

Dr. James Hansen, former chief climate scientist at NASA, now chief climate scientist at Columbia University, is well known for bringing definitive evidence of global warming to Congress in 1988:

“Environmentalists and world leaders must accept nuclear power now to avoid catastrophic climate change…Mass species extinction, extreme weather events, dry spells and fires are climate change impacts which are happening now.

“A warmer atmosphere and warmer oceans can lead to stronger storms,” he explained. (Superstorm Sandy, for example, remained a hurricane all the way up the Eastern seaboard to New York because Atlantic waters were abnormally warm.)

Planet is trapping almost twice as much heat in atmosphere as it did 15 years ago.

NASA, 2021

“Amplifying impacts” and feedback loops will accelerate the changes, says Hansen. “It will happen faster than you think,” he said. (If major coastal cities become dysfunctional because of sea level rise, which he believes is possible, the global economy could be in peril of collapse.)

A list of Travesty, part 6:

  • Oregon Cut Trees

Only when the last tree has died, the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught, will we realize that we cannot eat money.
– Cree Indian Proverb

Want to stop climate change? It’s easy: Embrace the nuclear option.

Coming up next week, Episode 6 – The Big Melt and The Acid Bath.

Links and References

  1. Next Episode – Episode 6 – The Big Melt and The Acid Bath
  2. Previous Episode – Episode 4 – Fossil Fuel Frolics
  3. Launching the Unintended Consequences Series
  4. Dr. George Erickson on LinkedIn
  5. Dr. George Erickson Website, Tundracub.com
  6. The full pdf version of Unintended Consequences
  7. Dr. Charles David Keeling Biography
  8. https://www.hcn.org/issues/53.3/south-colorado-river-will-the-climate-crisis-tap-out-the-colorado-river
  9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svante_Arrhenius
  10. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2015/jun/15/the-latest-global-temperature-data-are-breaking-records
  11. https://phys.org/news/2021-06-world-lakes-oxygen-rapidly-planet.html
  12. https://www.yahoo.com/news/as-biden-prepares-for-climate-summit-un-says-the-world-is-on-the-verge-of-the-abyss-194222171.html
  13. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jan/27/climate-crisis-world-now-at-its-hottest-for-12000-years
  14. https://insideclimatenews.org/news/09082021/global-climate-panels-report-no-part-of-the-planet-will-be-spared-ipcc-science-cop-extremes/
  15. https://www.yahoo.com/news/photos-show-devastating-colorado-wildfires-200444690.html
  16. https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/01/13/dire-assessment-scientists-warn-humanity-denial-looming-collapse-civilization-we
  17. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-29/moody-s-warns-cities-to-address-climate-risks-or-face-downgrades
  18. https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2016/04/12/405089.htm
  19. https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1133593866707256
  20. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jan/27/climate-crisis-world-now-at-its-hottest-for-12000-years
  21. https://www.ecoshock.org/2021/03/billion-dollar-black-out-climate-disasters.html?
  22. https://www.oceanscientists.org/ocean-deoxygenation/
  23. https://www.newsweek.com/pacific-ocean-deoxygenation-2030-climate-change-454157
  24. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2012/03/13/study-finds-ocean-acidification-rate-highest-300-million-years-co2-culprit
  25. https://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=IcebergLocations
  26. https://nsidc.org/cryosphere/quickfacts/icesheets.html
  27. https://www.navcen.uscg.gov/pdf/iip/outlook/IcebergOutlook.pdf
  28. https://www.facebook.com/kerstin.langenberger.photography
  29. https://www.noaa.gov/
  30. https://www.smh.com.au/environment/weather/the-north-pole-is-an-insane-20c-warmer-than-normal-as-winter-descends-20161118-gss3bg.html
  31. https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/01/25/ice-melt-quickens-greenland-glaciers/
  32. https://sfist.com/2020/01/26/ocean-acidification-is-literally-dissolving-the-shells-of-dungeness-crabs/
  33. https://phys.org/news/2015-07-ocean-acidification-phytoplankton.html
  34. https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/deadzone.html
  35. https://www.ecowatch.com/ocean-acidification-oregon-2646837418.html
  36. https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22630253-300-latest-numbers-show-at-least-5-metres-sea-level-rise-locked-in/
  37. https://truthout.org/articles/great-barrier-reef-reaches-terminal-stage-as-co2-levels-rise-at-record-rate/
  38. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/10/08/scientists-say-a-dramatic-worldwide-coral-bleaching-event-is-now-underway/
  39. https://truthout.org/articles/great-barrier-reef-suffered-worst-coral-die-off-on-record-in-2016-new-study/
  40. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GL7qJYKzcsk
  41. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQMZfCKuFIQ
  42. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Ward%2C_Baroness_Jackson_of_Lodsworth
  43. https://www.linkedin.com/in/alex-cannara-6a1b7a3
  44. https://www.linkedin.com/in/ken-caldeira-2a45648/
  45. https://carnegiescience.edu/
  46. https://www.nature.com/articles/nature.2016.19410
  47. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/combat-climate-change-researchers-want-to-pull-carbon-dioxide-from-ocean-and-turn-it-into-rock-180977903/
  48. https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/rog.20004
  49. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/23/opinion/climate-change-costs.html
  50. https://www.npr.org/2018/06/15/619348584/as-nuclear-struggles-a-new-generation-of-engineers-is-motivated-by-climate-change
  51. https://www.reuters.com/investigates/section/ocean-shock/
  52. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/12/kansas-aquifer-ogallala-water-crisis-drought/621007/
  53. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/18/magazine/when-rising-seas-transform-risk-into-certainty.html
  54. https://insideclimatenews.org/news/07072020/coronavirus-agriculture-food-chain-future-climate-change/
  55. https://www.straitstimes.com/world/united-states/warming-climate-will-displace-millions-in-coming-decades-world-bank
  56. https://www.vice.com/en/article/mbmkz8/us-military-could-collapse-within-20-years-due-to-climate-change-report-commissioned-by-pentagon-says
  57. https://www.linkedin.com/in/bill-mckibben-6174131b7/
  58. https://350.org/bill/
  59. https://twitter.com/DrJamesEHansen
  60. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/03/extreme-climate-change-history/617793/
  61. https://eu.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/01/22/climate-change-solution-nuclear-energy-our-best-hope-column/2821183001/
  62. https://earthsky.org/earth/6th-mass-extinction-in-progress-invertebrates/
  63. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/mar/08/global-heating-tropical-regions-human-livability

#ClimateChange #UnintendedConsequences #GeorgeErickson #FissionEnergy #NuclearEnergy #FossilFuels

One Day in 2050 – A New Dawn Comes

Tree City and Metro

This piece was written as part of the oneday2050.org program, created by Jaume Enciso Cachafeiro of Sabadell, Catalonia, Spain. Reach out to Jaume if you want also to contribute.

“Our minds are the most powerful tools we have. Applied correctly, we can achieve anything”

Jeremiah Josey

The sun rises and over a verdant green vista. My home awakes me with the gentle sounds of birds and the curtains slightly to let in the Eastern rising sun. I motion with my hand and the curtains fully open. Other folk have the electrostatic polymer window panes installed but I still like the feel and texture of a material window covering. Even if it is 100% fabricated from grown polymer fibres. Through my windows I see the tops of thousands of trees lit by the brilliant, new, fresh gold of the morning sun. These trees are less than 30 years old and spread as far as I can see.

I also see 5 other residential towers like the one I’m in. Each is 1,000 metres high and with the same 10,000 apartments. All are connected beneath the trees by boulevards and underground maglev personnel pods and shuttle carriages. I can also see the faint steam coming up from several areas among the tees.

That’s why I live here. Cheap electrical energy, and thermal domestic heating. 10 times less than even the cheapest fossil fuel from 30 years ago. Hidden beneath the trees and 20 metres of earth are tiny power generators driven by Thorium Molten Salt Fission Technology. I had a small hand in that – I was one of the scientists in the early design teams.

Safe, clean and green. The power units are entirely replaced every 20 years – even though they have a lifespan of 30. These power units are second generation already. Maybe 40 years they can be here. No overhead cables. No step down transformers. No cooling towers. No fuel lines. No coal conveyor belts. No waste heaps. Wow, what a change.

The supercritical CO2 turbo-machinery was developed by Mitsubishi and Siemens. They are tiny and work for decades with no maintenance. Heck, we are even using Stirling cycle machines in 3 of the power units. Maybe we’ll switch over soon for all of them.

This device produces the same energy output as the one behind. That’s the power of Super Critical CO2

Power generation in 2050 has become easy. No more oil wars, oil blockades, gas transit or border disputes. Each country has access to technology as common as the once common internal combustion engine. 

Thankfully Elon Musk finally killed that infernal fossil driven machine 20 years ago. It’s all electric from here – neutrons to electrons. Everyone is happy. There’s still lots to do: millions have had to move because of rising sea levels. At least now we can build it right.

CEO and Founder, Mr. Jeremiah Josey

Authored by Jeremiah Josey
Founder and CEO of The Thorium Network

1. https://www.oneday2050.org/participants
2. https://www.linkedin.com/in/jaume-enciso-cachafeiro/
3. Media content: https://mcusercontent.com/05029fefeb09e61eff7ed3715/files/8f938462-404b-3c76-49f3-92d6cf01cce9/10_07_Jeremiah_Josey_ENG_TEC.pdf
4. https://www.powermag.com/first-commercial-deployment-of-supercritical-co2-power-cycle-taking-shape-in-alberta/
5. GE’s 10MW Supercitical CO2 https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/04/ge-has-prototype-10-megawatt.html
6. Doug Hofer https://www.linkedin.com/in/doug-hofer-561a1919/
7. Vitali Lissianski https://www.linkedin.com/in/vitali-lissianski-06387827/
8. http://madan.org.il/en/news/futuristic-green-city-china
9. https://futurearchitectureplatform.org/projects/d6538a2a-0f90-4a6d-aaf6-89ca56e3d3a3/
10. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/canada-competes/singapores-futuristic-gardens/article11674777/
11. https://www.yankodesign.com/2011/04/26/2011-evolo-magazine-skyscraper-competition-finalists/
12. https://www.ornl.gov/molten-salt-reactor/history
13. https://futurism.com/tree-skyscrapers-underwater-restaurants-most-futuristic-designs-year
14. https://www.sustainable-carbon.org/report/power-generation-from-coal-using-supercritical-co2-cycle-ccc-280/