Thursday, October 05, 2006

Caldicott on E&E TV

A previously recorded interview with Helen Caldicott is running today on E&E TV. I could do a point by point rebuttal, but there isn't anything there that we haven't seen before over the past few weeks. It's classic Caldicott, all of the same old charges delivered with the same old intensity.

We're glad to see that Caldicott deigned to mention David Bradish's efforts to debunk her book, chapter by chapter. Her claim that this proved that she's credible had me roaring. For those so inclined, here are all of our previous posts on Caldicott from NEI Nuclear Notes:

"Nuclear Power Is Not The Answer"
Dr. Caldicott vs. Nuclear Power, Round 1
Dr. Caldicott vs. Nuclear Power, Round 2
Dr. Caldicott vs. Nuclear Power, Round 3
Dr. Caldicott vs. Nuclear Power, Rounds Four and Five
Dr. Caldicott vs. Nuclear Power, Rounds Six, Seven and Eight
Postcards From A Nuclear Free Zone, Part 1
Postcards From A Nuclear Free Zone, Part 2
Continuing To Counter Caldicott

But as we've seen, Caldicott is at her best when she doesn't have to answer any hard questions -- like when she ducked a Q&A following her appearance at Vanderbilt earlier this week.

One last point: Be sure to pay attention to the advertisement before the interview.

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Jim Hopf said...

I listened to a radio show Tue which featured a debate between Lisa and Ms. Caldicott. Maybe she behaves differently at book signings or other appearences, but in this debate she came off as relatively calm and civil, even somewhat like a concerned expert/doctor. Based on this, I think she might be harder to deal with than I thought.

She spent most of her time telling stories and giving info on the biological effects of radiation. What she's not saying is that people are exposed to radiation, and radioactive material all the time from natural sources. She implies that nuclear plants, weapons sites, and medical procedures are the only source of radiation exposure, exposing the body to something unique that its never seen before.

She also implies that exposures from nuclear plants are far higher than background, and are significant enough to result in a significant increased cancer risk (something that's not true even if you accept LNT).

I know Lisa responsed to these points at least once, but if this is going to be her approach, we need to hammer these points relentlessly, saying them over and over again (as long as she continues to discuss radiation effects).

The main points are that even with LNT, a trivial exposure corresponds to trivial risk, and even based on LNT, nuclear plants would have no measurable or significant health effect, whereas fossil plants cause 25,000 annual deaths. Thus, nuclear is orders of magnitude better, even assuming LNT. Then there's the greenhouse effect as well. This highlights the reasons why we NEED nuclear.

The second point is that natural background varies from ~200-1200 mrem/year in this country and no study has seen a measurable health effect. By contrast, people are exposed to less than 1 mrem from nuclear plants (even those next to TMI). If variations of several hundred mrem show no measurable effect, we KNOW that ~1 mrem has no effect.

If we simply get into an argument where she says some studies show health effects around plants (or TMI) and we say the major studies do not, we will just get into a stalemate. The listener will not know who to believe, and conclude that their MAY be a measurable health effect. This is not enough. We need the stronger argument I gave above. We KNOW, with 100% confidence, that normal plant operations (and TMI) have no effect. Why, because we see no effect from exposures that are ~100 to 1000 times higher.

If she questions the dose data. Point out that if enough radiation were released to expose people to orders of magnitude higher dose, we would still see traces of that radiation today. She can't have it both ways. Radioisotopes can't linger so that they cause a health effect, but they can't be measured. No radiation (from Cs-137, etc..), no health effect.

We also need to point out that even under the worst leakage scenarios, nobody near Yucca Mtn. will get a dose outside the range of background. I was floored by the caller who said she was more afraid of Yucca than global warming! We need to point out that with Yucca, we're talking about a minute probability that a handfull of people will be exposed to a dose rate within background. There is no risk for the first ~500-1000 years, and no risk at all for anyone other than those living right in the local area. The caller clearly did not understand any of this.

A final point would be that the disagreement over LNT is basically whether there is any effect at all or whether there actually is one but its too small to measure. The point is that we've got far to meany real, serious problems going on to worry about hypotheticl health effects that, even if true, are too small to measure. Even assuming LNT, these effects are "in the noise", i.e., insignificant.

Matthew66 said...

I know it's wishful thinking, but I hope Dr. Caldicott came here on the visa waiver program, because her appearances on radio and television would clearly be in violation of that visa and she could be sent back to Australia on the next plane. No doubt she and her promoters made sure she got the right visa.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that before the video there's the NEI nuclear ad and a banner showing you the ad in an increased size.

Matthew66 said...

Just watched this video clip. I found her thoroughly unconvincing. In particular I found her claims about the genetic effects of radiation to be false, when compared to scientific reports issued by the UN. I think her arguments are simplistic. She has a grandmotherly style, which might convince a credulous five year-old but it doesn't convince me. Calling someone a liar, without backing it up is not a valid form of argument. I just don't find her convincing.

Rod Adams said...


I believe that most people would agree with your assessment.

It is time for nuclear power supporters to present our vision and allow undecided people to compare and contrast that with views from people like Caldicott.

We will never convince her, but the real audience is more approachable.