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Victory for reason as Anti-Nuclear 'Linear No Threshold' theory dropped

by Neil Craig

FOR SIXTY YEARS the Linear No Threshold theory (LNT), the basis for saying that low level radiation is harmful, has been the foundation of the anti-nuclear movement. It has never had any scientific justification whatsoever and, in a new report released last month, this fact has now been publicly acknowledged by the the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR).

This is important because the theory that low-level radiation is harmful was the foundation of almost all anti-nuclear scare stories. Indeed it is so important that, with the sole exception of Forbes magazine, it has gone entirely unreported by the world's press and broadcasters.

Indeed I believe that, by providing justification for hysteria against nuclear power and thus ending the fast growth in the nuclear industry of the 1960s, this scare has done more to retard human progress than even the catastrophic warming fraud. And not merely because it has lasted longer.

For some time now I have been collating news from around the world on the evidence against the Linear No Threshold theory here. I did originally intend to also list evidence for it but, despite diligent searching, neither I, nor any anti-nuclear campaigner, could find any.

From now on anybody who says low level radiation is harmful can be publicly called a liar – and anybody who doesn't can't put a decent anti-nuclear case.

The fears engendered by this scare story have been directly responsible for the standstill in nuclear energy generation and thus in most energy generation overall in the world since 1970. Without that scare the world would be producing at least twice as much electricity and would thus be roughly twice as well off.

Such paradigm shattering news is of massive worldwide significance and has thus been ignored by virtually all the world's conventional media with the almost sole exception of this from Forbes:

Like We've Been Saying - Radiation Is Not A Problem

The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation has finally admitted that we can't use the LNT hypothesis to predict cancer from low doses of radiation.

A very big report came out last month with very little fanfare. It concluded what we in nuclear science have been saying for decades – radiation doses less than about 10 rem (0.1 Sv) are no big deal. The linear no-threshold dose hypothesis (LNT) does not apply to doses less than 10 rem (0.1 Sv), which is the region encompassing background levels around the world, and is the region of most importance to nuclear energy, most medical procedures and most areas affected by accidents like Fukushima.

Finally, the world may come to its senses and not waste time on the things that aren’t hurting us and spend time on the things that are. The advice on radiation in this report will clarify what can, and cannot, be said about low dose radiation health effects on individuals and large populations. Background doses going from 250 mrem (2.5 mSv) to 350 mrem (3.5 mSv) will not raise cancer rates or have any discernable effects on public health. Likewise, background doses going from 250 mrem (2.5 mSv) to 100 mrem (1 mSv) will not decrease cancer rates or effect any other public health issue....

UNSCEAR also found no observable health effects from last year’s nuclear accident in Fukushima. No effects.

The Japanese people can start eating their own food again, and moving back into areas only lightly contaminated with radiation levels that are similar to background in many areas of the world like Colorado and Brazil....

The Linear No-Threshold Dose hypothesis is a supposition that all radiation is deadly and there is no dose below which harmful effects will not occur. Double the dose, double the cancers. First put forward after WWII ... and adopted by the world body, including UNSCEAR, its primary use was as a Cold War bargaining chip to force cessation of nuclear weapons testing. The fear of radiation that took over the worldview was a side-effect

There is no correlation with radiation dose. States with significantly higher doses, greater than 2.7 mSv/year (270 mrem/year) like Colorado, have lower cancer rates than States with much lower average doses like Georgia, and vice versa. (from Frigerio and Stowe, 1976 with recent radon data)

Of course, doubling the dose doesn’t double the cancers below 10 rem/yr (0.1 Sv/yr). It has no effect at all. The millions of nuclear workers that have been monitored closely for 50 years have no higher cancer mortality than the general population but have had several to ten times the average dose. People living in New Mexico and Wyoming have twice the annual dose as those in Los Angeles, but have lower cancer rates. These cannot occur if LNT were true, because LNT states this could not occur.

There are no observable effects in any population group around the planet that suggest LNT is true below 10 rem/yr (0.1 Sv/yr) even in areas of the Middle East, Brazil and France where natural background doses exceed 10 rem/yr (0.1 Sv/yr).

This report is a welcome change. The report, approved by the United Nations General Assembly, will now serve to guide all countries of the world in setting their own national radiation safety policies...

Indeed, looking at the graph below it seems UNSCEAR are still overstating the risk - the graph clearly shows the effect predicted by the hormesis theory (that at fairly low levels radiation actually improves health) from above 2.7 mSv.

Background Radiation Differences on Annual Cancer mortality Rates/100,000 for each U.S. State over a 17-Year Period

I sent out the news of the report as a letter to the world's press and to some other sites and Dr Jerry Pournelle published this:

 

As far as I am concerned, the linear damage all the way down hypothesis was disproved years ago, and the balance of evidence strongly favors the theory of hormesis. The linear damage theory says that the dose makes the poison, and even a little bit of radiation damage is too much; hormesis says that a little bit of radiation can actually be good for you. It does NOT state that if a little is good more is better.

We discussed all this years ago
here, more recently here and see also here.

And in fact I have been writing about this since my days as science editor of Galaxy Science Fiction. There is a section on radiation hormesis in A Step Farther Out http://www.amazon.com/Step-Farther-Out-Jerry-Pournelle/dp/0441785832

But one need not accept hormesis to realize that the lowest levels of radiation don’t have much effect on large mammals.

Predictably the rest of the world's media has decided that this paradigm shifting news is too important to report, giving Forbes and ThinkScotland a clear world scoop. This will, in time, change the world because we no longer have any good reason not to build nuclear plants or to regulate them so heavily like we do that at least 3/4 of their cost is regulatory.

Nuclear costs about 30% of the average of the basket of power generating systems we use (windmills, of course, pushing the average way up). During the 1970s nuclear costs went up five-fold compared to the rate of inflation – due to regulatory costs. So all combined that brings the real cost down to 6% of current levels. Thus, even assuming there has been no more expensive ratcheting since then it is reasonable to suggest that 94% of the wholesale cost of electricity is, one way or another, government regulations.

It would take time to build such new capacity. It seems to take at least forever to shuffle the paper even to allow building new nuclear capacity here but China is currently rattling them out in three years, so it is certainly possible to do so.

Any country that chooses to get anywhere close to that cost is going to go into an unprecedented boom. That means any country run rationally of course.

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Article from Tuesday 15, January, 2013