Episode 10 – Hormesis: How Radiation is Good for You – Unintended Consequences – Chapter 4 Part 2

Thorium Hormesis
Dr. Zbigniew Jaworowski, MD PhD, DSc, former Chairman of the United Nationals Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCLEAR)
Dr. Zbigniew Jaworowski, UNCLEAR Chairman

Dr. Zbigniew Jaworowski, MD PhD, DSc, former Chairman of the United Nationals Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR):
“What is really surprising, however, is that data collected by UNSCEAR and the Forum show 15% to 30% fewer cancer deaths among Chernobyl emergency workers and about 5% lower solid cancer incidences among the people on the Bryansk district (the most contaminated in Russia) in comparison with the general population. In most irradiated group of these people (mean dose of 40 mSv) the deficit of cancer incidence was 17%.”

Because of their daily exposure to low levels of radiation, which seems to stimulate the DNA repair system, nuclear power plant workers get one third fewer cancers than other workers. They also lose fewer workdays to accidents than office workers.

Knowing this, it is not surprising that, when steel containing cobalt-60 was used to build Taiwan apartments, which exposed 8,000 people to an additional 400 mSv of radiation during some twenty years, cancer incidence was sharply down, not up 30% as Linear No Threshold Theory would have predicted.Instead, the residents’ adaptive response to low- level radiation seems to have provided health benefits. The following chart reveals lower cancer rates for those who receive extra low-level radiation vs. those who only get background radiation.

Sometimes a low radiation exposure of 1-100 mGy, close to yearly background level, appears to act as the “tickle” dose, and reduces cancer rates. Redpath et al 2001

The USA de-funded low dose radiation studies that would have disproved No Threshold Theory.

Dr. Doug Boreham, Norther Ontario School of Medicine – Radiation, space travel and hormesis

In 2015, a study of bacteria grown at a dose rate 1/400 of normal background radiation yielded a reduction in growth, but when the cells were returned to normal background radiation levels, growth rates recovered. The conclusion: Insufficient radiation can yield harmful results.

Life Needs (Some) Radiation – Deep in the Earth, a series of experiments is revealing how life suffers when it’s deprived of background levels of radiation.

Therefore, it seems reasonable that radiation limits should be the same regardless of the source of the radiation. Nevertheless, nuclear plants are held to a standard 100 times higher than coal plants, which actually emit more radiation than nuclear power plants. Per unit of electricity created, the fly ash emitted by a coal power plant exposes the environment to 100 times more radiation than a nuclear plant’s on-site-stored spent fuel – it’s so-called “waste”, 90% of which can be consumed in modern reactors. (Granite buildings irradiate their occupants more than nuclear power plants.)

In 2004, the Radiation Research Society published the Mortality Experience amongst U. S. Nuclear Workers after Chronic Low-Dose Exposure to Ionizing Radiation:

“Workers employed in fifteen utilities that generate nuclear power in the U. S. have been followed for up to 18 years between 1979 and 1997.

“Their cumulative dose from whole body radiation has been determined from records maintained by the facilities and by the Nuclear Regulatory Comm. and the Energy Department.

“Mortality in the cohort … has been analyzed with respect to individual radiation doses. The cohort displays a very substantial healthy worker effect, i.e. considerably lower cancer and non-cancer mortality than the general population.”

The largest circle (red) represents a radiotherapy tumour dose;

The green circle is a recoverable dose to normal tissue near the tumour;

The dark green circle is a dose with a 100% safety record.

The tiny black dot in the smallest circle represents the limit recommended by current regulations due to LTN.

In Radiation and Health, Hendrickson and Maillie wrote “…during radiation therapy for cancer, we’ve learned that chromosome damage to lymphocytes can be reduced by up to 50% if a small dose is given to the cells a few hours before the larger ‘cancer-killing’ dose is administered.


In the southwest Indian state of Kerala, children under five have the lowest mortality rate in the country, and life expectancy is 74 despite background radiation rates that can range as high as 30 times the global average.

What can we learn from Kerala?

For thousands of years, Keralites have lived with radiation three times the level that caused the evacuation at Fukushima, where the limit was, on July, 2016, just 20 mSv. In contrast, some sections of Kerala experience 70 mSv, with a few areas measuring 500 – and many Keralites also eat food that is five times as radioactive as food in the United States.

Kerala Beach People Live Longer

Despite these radiation levels, cancer incidence in Kerala is the same as the rate in greater India, which is about 1/2 that of Japan’s and less than a third of the rate in Australia. As the linked article says, “Cancer experts know a great deal about the drivers of these huge differences, and radiation isn’t on the list.”

Kerala Beach

In Kerala, scientists have been working with a genuinely low rate of radiation exposure that mirrors what would have been the case in Fukushima if the Japanese officials hadn’t panicked and needlessly evacuated so many thousands of people.

So, why did they? Partly from fear, but primarily because most radiation protection standards have been derived from LNT bias and studies of Japanese atomic bomb victims who received their dose in a very short time, and being bombed is very different from living for years with a slightly higher radiation level.

Kerala also confirms our modern knowledge of DNA repair- namely that radiation damage is not cumulative at background dose rates up to 30 times normal, and that 70 mSv over a lifetime does nothing. In fact, the concepts of an “annual dose” or a “cumulative dose” are misleading. Instead, evidence reveals that an annual exposure to 100 mSv is comparable to a dose of zero because it doesn’t exceed a person’s capacity for repair.

In the past, when experts discussed these issues they couldn’t consider delivery rates or DNA repair because the power and mechanisms of DNA repair were not known until long after Muller’s LNT theory became dogma. As a consequence, the suffering caused by this obsolete “science” has been immense. (UK radiation expert Malcolm Grimston has characterised the Fukushima evacuation as being “stark raving mad”).

When the Japanese government lifted the evacuation orders because the radiation level had dropped to 20 mSv, 80 % of the residents refused to return because of their fear of radiation despite the fact that the most highly irradiated areas near the plant received only 1/5 of the lowest dose linked to a detectable increase in cancer. (At Guarapari beach in Brazil, residents often bury themselves in sand that yields 340 mSv without ill effect.)

Guarapari Beaches, Brazil

We should be concerned about genuinely dangerous isotopes, but we shouldn’t waste energy and money cleaning up minor radioactivity that doesn’t do anything – but that is what we are doing.

Despite our learning that our cells have amazing repair abilities, LNT advocates still create the radiophobia that caused the extreme evacuations at Fukushima and the flood of needless, fear-induced European abortions that followed Chernobyl. In my opinion, people who refuse to examine the evidence that negates this discredited illusion have abandoned their integrity.

October, 2020. New U.S. Department of Energy research indicates that at low doses, biological reactions are often unrelated to those that occur at high levels. The influential Linear-No-Threshold model, which predicted that acute exposure damage can be extrapolated linearly to low dose exposures—was flawed. In fact, small amounts can have an adaptive positive effect. In addition, it appears that cells communicate with each other and a dose to one affects the cells around it.

The LNT model for cancer induction is not supported by radiobiological data

LOW DOSE RADIATION – The History of the U.S. Department of Energy Research Program

As others have noted, not knowing the truth doesn’t make us ignorant, but not wanting to know the truth most certainly will.

Comparison of Radiation Doses

  • 0.05 µGy – Sleeping next to someone
  • 0.09 µGy – Living within 30 miles of a nuclear power plant for a year
  • 0.1 µGy – Eating one banana
  • 0.3 µGy – Living within 50 miles of a coal power plant for a year
  • 10 µGy – Average daily dose received from natural background
  • 20 µGy – Chest X-ray
  • 40 µGy – A 5-hour airplane flight
  • 600 µGy – mammogram
  • 1 000 µGy – Dose limit for individual members of the public, total effective dose per annum
  • 3 650 µGy – Average yearly dose received from natural background
  • 5 800 µGy – Chest CT scan
  • 10 000 µGy – Average yearly dose received from natural background in Ramsar, Iran
  • 20 000 µGy – single full-body CT scan
  • 175 000 µGy – Annual dose from natural radiation on a monazite beach near Guarapari, Brazil.
  • 5 000 000 µGy – Dose that kills a human with a 50% risk within 30 days (LD50/30), if the dose is received over a very short duration.

What is a Gray and what is a Sivert?

Coming up next week, Episode 11 – Looking for Radiation

Links and References

1. Next Episode – Episode 11 – Looking for Radiation
2. Previous Episode – Episode 9 – Our Natural DNA Repair Capabilities
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/Zbigniew_Jaworowski
7. https://www.unscear.org/
8. https://www.faculty.uci.edu/profile.cfm?faculty_id=2879
9. http://www.falloutradiation.com/files/HPANSpresentation.pdf
10. https://europepmc.org/article/pmc/pmc4975094
11. https://atomicinsights.com/low-dose-radiation-research-program-defunded-2011/
12. https://www.academia.edu/4637793/Adaptive_Response_to_Low_Dose_Radiation
13. https://www.ans.org/news/article-2875/national-academies-steers-lowdose-radiation-research-in-a-new-direction/
14. https://www.mun.ca/biology/scarr/Radiation_definitions.html
15. http://www.falloutradiation.com/files/HPANSpresentation.pdf
16. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/life-without-radiation/
17. https://www.osti.gov/biblio/15020740-analysis-mortality-experience-amongst-nuclear-power-industry-workers-after-chronic-low-dose-exposure-ionizing-radiation
18. https://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/safety-and-security/radiation-and-health/nuclear-radiation-and-health-effects.aspx
19. https://www.amazon.com/Radiation-Health-Thormod-Henriksen-ebook/dp/B08LGH82MS
20. https://goo.gl/maps/6tC88EYMQNoPLyy9A
21. https://bravenewclimate.com/2015/01/24/what-can-we-learn-from-kerala/
22. https://www.imperial.ac.uk/mediaguide/index.asp?PeopleID=254
23. https://wsupress.wsu.edu/product/low-dose-radiation/
24. https://www.britannica.com/event/Fukushima-accident
25. https://www.dedoimedo.com/physics/banana-radioactive.html
26. https://www.nuclear-power.com/nuclear-engineering/radiation-protection/absorbed-dose/gray-unit-of-radiation-dose/
27. https://www.nuclear-power.com/nuclear-engineering/radiation-protection/equivalent-dose/sievert-unit-of-equivalent-dose/sievert-gray-becquerel-conversion-calculation/

#GeorgeErickson #UnintendedConsequences #MoltenSaltFissionEnergy #Thorium #MoltenSaltFissionTechnology #Hormesis #Russia #Chernobyl #Ukraine

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

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 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

Episode 4 – Fossil Fuel Frolics – Unintended Consequences

What’s the Fossil Fuel Record? Millions of Air Pollution Deaths each year
Because the carbon industries are heavily subsidised, one might expect them to have exemplary safety and social records, but one would be wrong!

According to the Guardian (2021-10-21) “The IMF found the production and burning of coal, oil and gas was subsidised by USD 5.9tn in 2020″ Or USD 11 million a minute every day. This is according to a startling new estimate by the International Monetary Fund. The IMF has noted before that existing fossil fuel subsidies overwhelmingly go to the rich, with the wealthiest 20% of people getting six times as much as the poorest 20% in low and middle-income countries.

IMF Logo Photo

In 2006, the Sago coal mine disaster killed 12. A few years later, a West Virginia coal mine explosion killed 29. In May 2014, 240 miners died in a Turkish coal mine.

The ash derived from burning coal averages 80,000 pounds per American lifetime. Compare that to two pounds of nuclear “waste” for the same amount of electricity. The world’s 1,200 largest coal-fired plants cause 30,000 premature U.S. deaths every year plus hundreds of thousands of cases of lung and heart diseases.

Normal Operations – Ash from Coal Fired Power Station – Tennessee Valley Authority

Generating the 20% of U.S. electricity with nuclear power saves our atmosphere from being polluted with 177 million tons of greenhouse gases every year, but despite the increasing consequences of Climate Change and Ocean Acidification, the burning of carbon to make electricity is still rising.

Scientific American, 13 Dec 2007: “Coal-fired plants expel mercury, arsenic, uranium, radon, cyanide and harmful particulates while exposing us to 100 times more radiation than nuclear plants that create no CO2. In fact, coal ash is more radioactive than any emission from any operating nuclear plant.” How Coal Kills 17 Feb 2015

In one year, a CO2-free, 1,000 MW nuclear plant creates about 500 cu ft of spent fuel that can be recycled to retrieve useful U-238, reducing its bulk by about 90%. (An average U. S. bathroom is about that size.) In that same year, a 1,000 MW coal plant creates 65,000 tons of CO2 plus enough toxic ash to cover an entire football field to a height of at least 200 feet.

Every year, we store 140 million tons of coal ash in unlined or poorly lined landfills and tailing ponds. In 2008, five million tons of toxic ash burst through a Tennessee berm (see below), destroying homes and fouling lakes and rivers.

Coal-fired power plants leak more toxic pollution into America’s waters than any other industry. (A June, 2013 test found that arsenic levels leaking from unlined coal ash ponds were 300 times the safety level for drinking water.)

And in 2014, North Carolina’s Duke Energy’s plant (now bankrupt) “spilled” 9,000 tons of toxic coal ash sludge into the Dan River. Why do they always say “spilled” – never “gushed?”

Coal companies like to promote their supposedly “clean coal,” which really means “not quite so filthy,” but despite making an attempt at carbon capture and storage (CCS) at a new power plant in Saskatchewan, the plant has been a failure. (Burning fossil fuels causes 4.5 million early deaths per year.)

CO2 Sequestration Critique by The Juice Media 2 Sept 2021

CO2 removal devices use natural gas or electricity, which is usually generated by burning carbon. The moral hazard of removing CO2 from the air is that it justifies burning fossil fuels.

Technology to Make Clean Energy from Coal is Stumbling in Practice
An electrical plant in Saskatchewan was the great hope for industries that burn coal.
In the first large-scale project of its kind, the plant was equipped with a technology that promised to pluck carbon out of the utility’s exhaust and bury it, transforming coal into a cleaner power source. In the months after opening, the utility and the government declared the project an unqualified success, but the USD 1.1 billion project is now looking like a dream.

Known as SaskPower’s Boundary Dam 3, the project has been plagued by shutdowns, has fallen way short of its emissions targets, and faces an unresolved problem with its core technology. The costs, too, have soared, requiring tens of millions of dollars in new equipment and repairs.

“At the outset, its economics were dubious,” said Cathy Sproule, a member of the legislature who released confidential internal documents about the project. “Now they’re a disaster….”

New York Times by Ian Austen, 29 March 2016, Ottawa

Even modern, 75% efficient coal-burners with thirty-year lifespans can’t compete with nuclear plants that have lifespans of 60 years and provide CO2-free power at 90% efficiency, and the new plants are even safer. In addition, our coal reserves will last 100 years at best. And as we “decarbonize”, we will require increasing amounts of electricity, and the only source of economical CO2-free, 24/7 power must be our new, super-safe, highly efficient nuclear reactors that cannot melt down.

Note: The word “efficiency,” AKA “capacity factor,” in this book means the amount of electricity created over an extended period by wind, solar, etc. compared to their maximum power rating. Unfortunately, the maximum power rating is often used to sell the project. For nuclear reactors, this figure is at least 90%, but it is 33% for windmills and just 19 -22% for pv solar – and solar panel efficiency degrades by 1% per year during their short, 20 year lifespan. (Thermal efficiency is a separate matter.)

When a gas pipeline exploded in 2010 at San Bruno, California, 8 people died, 35 homes were levelled and dozens more were damaged. In 2016, a federal government report stated that natural gas explosions cause heavy property damage, often with deaths, about 180 times per year that’s every other day.

In 2010, British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico “spilled” 200 million gallons of oil and killed 11 workers and 800,000 birds. Prior to that, an explosion at a Texas BP refinery killed fifteen workers. And BP, which was also involved in the Exxon Valdez “spill” in Alaska’s Prince William Sound, is just one of the many oil companies that we subsidise with USD 2.4 billion every year.

“‘Evolution is driven by the tendency of all organisms to expand their habitat and exploit the available resources… Just as bacteria in a Petri dish grow until they have consumed all of the nutrients, and then die in a toxic soup of their own waste.”

William Ophuls

Later in 2010, an Enbridge pipeline ruptured in Michigan, eventually “spilling” more than a million gallons of tar sands crude into the Kalamazoo River. When monitors at the Alberta office reported that the line pressure had fallen to zero, control room staff dismissed the warning as a false alarm and cranked up the pressure twice, which worsened the disaster. In 2018, Enbridge’s “cleanup” was still incomplete.

  • Fire at BP Deepwater Horizon 2010
  • Bird in Oil Alaska 1989
  • 800 Mile Oil Spill Alaska 1989
  • San Bruno Gas Pipeline Explosion 2008
  • Aliso Canyon Methane Leak 2014
  • Alberta Waste Oil Spill 2014
  • Oil Train Derailment in New Brunswick, Canada 2014
  • Alabama Oil Train Fire 2013
  • Mayflower, Arkansas Exxon Oil Spill 2016
  • Lac Megantic Quebec Oil Train Crash 2013
  • Enbridge Tar Sands Oil Pipeline Spill Kalamazoo 2010
  • Ramsey Natural Gas Processing Plant in Orla, Texas 2015

In 2013, a spectacular train wreck dumped 2 million gallons of North Dakota crude oil into Lac Megantic, Quebec, killing 47 residents and incinerating the centre of the town – but that’s just another page in the endless petroleum tale that includes Exxon’s disastrous, 2016 “spill” in Mayflower, Arkansas, that received scant notice from the press.

New Scientist – Fossil fuels are far deadlier than nuclear power

And in November 2013, a train loaded with 2.7 million gallons of crude oil went incendiary in Alabama, followed in December by a North Dakota conflagration.

2014 began with a fiery derailment in New Brunswick, Canada, and in October 2014, 625,000 liters of oil and toxic mine-water were “spilled” in Alberta.

July, August and September brought Alberta’s autumn, 2014 total to 90 pipeline “spills.”   2015 brought four, fiery oil train wrecks just by March, and 2016 delivered two Alabama pipeline explosions – one close to Birmingham.

In late 2015, California’s horrific, Aliso Canyon methane “leak” (think “geyser”) erupted, spewing forth 100,000 tons of natural gas, the equivalent of approximately 3 billion gallons of gasoline or adding 500,000 cars to our roads for a year.

The Southern California Gas Company finally managed to throttle the geyser in February, 2016. Incidentally, Aliso’s 100,000 tons of “leakage” is just 25% of California’s allowed leakage, which is an indication of the political power of the natural gas industry. (Five months later, a new headline appeared: “Massive Fracking Explosion in New Mexico”)

The Aliso “leak” caused the loss of 70 billion cubic feet (BCF) of gas that California utilities count on to create electricity for the hot summer months. As a consequence, the California Independent Service Operator, which manages California’s grid, estimated that due to Aliso, 21 million customers should expect to be without power for 14 days during the summer.

Methane leaks offset much of the climate change benefits of natural gas, study says

According to Reuters, (June 2016), “SoCalGas uses Aliso Canyon to provide gas to power generators that cannot be met with pipeline flows alone on about 10 days per month during the summer, according to state agencies.”

However, during the summer, SoCalGas also strives to fill Aliso Canyon to prepare for the winter heating season. State regulators, however, subsequently ordered the company to reduce the amount of gas in Aliso to just 15 BCF and use that fuel to reduce the risk of power interruptions in the hot summer months of 2016. Fortunately, State regulators have also said that they won’t allow SoCalGas to inject fuel into the facility until the company has inspected all of its 114 storage facilities.

The Aliso disaster wiped out all of the state’s Green House Gas (GHG) reductions from its wind and solar systems – and led to a USD 1.8 billion judgement against SoCalGas in September, 2021. In 2016, California officials also reported leakage at a San Joachim County storage facility that was “similar to, or slightly above, background levels at other natural gas storage facilities.”

Dr. Alex Cannara, a California resident writes, “Combustion sources [unlike nuclear power], aren’t burdened with their true costs. Natural gas, for example, is not cheaper than nuclear or anything else. In 2016, our allowed leakage wipes wind/solar out by 4 times. In other words, ‘renewables’ in a gas state like California wipe out their benefits every 3 months because they depend on gas for most of their nameplate ratings. The Aliso storage was largely used to compensate for ‘renewables’ inevitable shortfall.“The most important combustion cost is the unlimited downside risk of its emissions for the entire planet, but in February 2016, our CEC approved 600MW of added gas burning in the San Diego region simply because the San Onofre nuclear plant wasn’t running, due to possibly corrupt actions by SoCla Gas, SCE, Sempra Energy and Edison Intl.

“Such practices were prevented for 75 years by the 1935 PUHCA, but the Bush administration repealed it in 2005 after decades of carbon combustion-interest lobbying. Some states – not California – passed legislation to correct for the 2005 PUHCA repeal.”

There’s more: In August, 2016, the Pennsylvania EPA admitted that oil and gas production in the state emitted as much methane as Aliso Canyon. The Aliso “leak” was deemed a disaster, but the hundreds of equally damaging Pennsylvania “leaks” were considered business as usual.

Finally, also in August, 2016, a thirty-inch pipeline exploded in southeast New Mexico, killing five adults and five children while leaving two other adults in critical condition in a Lubbock, Texas hospital.

All of this could have been avoided if, instead of pursuing intermittent, short-lived, carbon-dependent windmills and solar panels (Chapters 9 and 10), we had expanded safe, CO2-free Nuclear Power.

Dr. Wade Allison, in Nuclear is For Life, wrote: “Critics of civilian nuclear power use what they fear might happen due to a nuclear failure – but never has – but ignore other accidents that have been far worse:
– The 1975 dam failure in China that killed 170,000;
– The 1984 chemical plant disaster in Bhopal, India where 3,899 died and 558,000 were injured;
– The 1889, Johnstown. PA flood that drowned 2,200;
– The 1917 explosion of a cargo ship in Halifax, N. S. where 2,000 died and 9,000 were injured;
– Turkey’s 2014 coal mine accident that took 300 lives;
– The 2015 warehouse explosion in China that cost 173 lives. “

The list seems endless, but no one advocates destroying dams or closing chemical plants.

The way the world has reacted to the Fukushima accident has been the real disaster with huge consequences to the environment, but the accident itself was not.”

See more from Dr Alison here.

Dr Wade Alison
Nuclear is for Life by Wade Alison

“In California, defective, Japanese-built steam generators at the San Onofre plant could have been replaced for about USD 600 million, but the plant is being decommissioned at a cost of USD 4.5 billion because of Fukushima and anti-nuclear zealotry. The plant could be replaced with two, CO2-free AP-1000 reactors for USD 14 Billion.” – Mike Conley

In this foolish way, California lost the CO2-free electricity generated by San Onofre – 9% of California’s needs – which was replaced by carbon burning power plants and/or carbon-reliant wind and solar.

Nuclear plants are required to set aside part of their profits to pay the cost of decommissioning, but no such requirement is made of wind and solar farms. Neither are carbon companies required to pre-fund the removal of miles of pipelines, the cleanup of refinery sites, or the sealing of their abandoned wells.

Gas Industry Plans to Sink Nuclear Power

I repeat, NO ONE has died from radiation created by commercial nuclear power production in Western Europe, Asia or the Southern and Western hemispheres, but more than 2,000,000 people die prematurely every year from the burning of coal, gas, wood and oil.

If you REALLY care about safety, check this chart!

A 2019 study lowered the nuclear death rate from 0.0013 to 0.0007/Twh.

The original version of this chart, which rated nuclear power at 0.04 deaths per Terawatt hour, included thousands of LNT-predicted Chernobyl deaths that never happened.

As a consequence, this image, which reflects reality instead of LNT [Linear No Threshold] errors, reveals that nuclear power is far safer than initially thought, and that nuclear is actually 115 times safer than wind – not 4,340 times safer than solar – not 10, 3,000 times safer than natural gas, 27,000 times safer than oil – and coal is out of sight.

Comparing Daily Fuel requirements and CO2 production for a 1,000 MW Power Plant

Power TrainFuel QuantityFuel Quantity (kg)CO2 Production (Tons)
Solid Fission (U232)7 Pounds3.2Zero
Coal burning9,000 tons9,000,00026,000
Natural Gas Burning240,000,000 cu ft4,621,30915,210

Coming up next week, Episode 5 – The Big Melt and The Acid Bath.

Links and References

1. Next Episode – Episode 5 – The Big Melt and The Acid Bath
2. Previous Episode – Episode 3 – The Preface
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://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/oct/06/fossil-fuel-industry-subsidies-of-11m-dollars-a-minute-imf-finds
8. https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/WP/Issues/2021/09/23/Still-Not-Getting-Energy-Prices-Right-A-Global-and-Country-Update-of-Fossil-Fuel-Subsidies-466004
9. https://news.stlpublicradio.org/health-science-environment/2014-12-19/first-ever-national-coal-ash-regs-disappoint-missouri-environmentalists
10. https://www.epa.gov/radtown/radioactive-wastes-coal-fired-power-plants
11. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-coal-kills/
12. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/graphic-science-health-care-burden-of-fossil-fuels/
13. https://www.southernenvironment.org/news/duke-energy-pleads-guilty-to-environmental-crimes-in-north-carolina/
14. https://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/25/us/25sludge.html
15. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSZgoFyuHC8
16. https://www.thejuicemedia.com/
17. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/30/business/energy-environment/technology-to-make-clean-energy-from-coal-is-stumbling-in-practice.html
18. https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/07/19/false-solution-500-groups-urge-us-canadian-leaders-reject-carbon-capture
19. https://www.nytimes.com/by/ian-austen
20. https://www.helsinkitimes.fi/finland/finland-news/domestic/15265-small-modular-reactors-generating-interest-among-municipalities-in-finland.html
21. https://www.linkedin.com/in/ian-austen-0a10a944/
22. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-human-cost-of-energy/
23. https://www.linkedin.com/in/patrick-ophuls-9b3171225/
24. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Ophuls
25. https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20928053-600-fossil-fuels-are-far-deadlier-than-nuclear-power/
26. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Mayflower_oil_spill
27. https://www.ecowatch.com/massive-fracking-explosion-in-new-mexico-1919567359.html
28. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/methane-leaks-offset-much-of-the-benefits-of-natural-gas-new-study-says/2018/06/21/e381654a-7590-11e8-b4b7-308400242c2e_story.html
29. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-california-heatwave-idUSKCN0Z60DO
30. https://thoriumenergyalliance.com/resource/dr-alex-cannara-energy-basics/
31. https://www.linkedin.com/in/alex-cannara-6a1b7a3
32. https://eu.argusleader.com/story/news/local/2015/12/07/ramsey-plant-fire-close-being-extinguished/76942420/
33. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wade_Allison
34. https://www.linkedin.com/in/wade-allison-08929816/
35. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/285420212_Nuclear_is_for_Life_A_Cultural_Revolution
36. https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/nuclear-power-climate-change-misconceptions-by-wade-allison-2018-06
37. https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-conley-5529b3/
38. https://www.thedailybeast.com/inside-the-gas-industrys-plan-to-sink-nuclear-power

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