threegenerationsleft

human activity and the destruction of the planet


Leave a comment

Nuclear Fallout From Chernobyl and Fukushima Disasters are Stored In Melting Glaciers

This report by Ted Ranosa was published a year ago in the Tech Times:

https://www.techtimes.com/articles/241378/20190412/nuclear-fallout-from-chernobyl-fukushima-disasters-stored-in-melting-glaciers-are-ticking-time-bomb.htm

glacier

Irradiated glaciers from the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters threaten the environment as they could release their stored radiation particles at any moment.

In a study presented at the European Geosciences Union’s General Assembly, researchers discussed how ice and snow in glaciated areas can capture fallout from nuclear accidents and store them for long periods of time.

However, these glaciers are starting to melt at a rapid pace as a result of climate change. They are now at risk of releasing their contaminants into the environment, which could poison humans and wildlife alike.

Chernobyl

Chernobyl

Nuclear Fallout In Glaciers

Dr. Caroline Clason, an expert on physical geography from the University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom, led an international team of researchers in examining the effects of nuclear radiation on glaciers.

They focused their work on particles known as fallout radionuclides, which are the byproducts of nuclear weapons testings and accidents. These contaminants are often stored in ice surface sediments called cryoconite.

Clason and her colleagues traveled to different sites around the world, such as Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Antarctica. The FRNs detected in these environments have orders of magnitude that are higher than those found in non-glaciated areas.

The team’s discovery underscores the role of glaciers, particularly the interaction between cryoconite and meltwater, in collecting contaminants in the atmosphere from various human activities.

The researchers also found that FRN buildup is not restricted to areas directly affected by nuclear activity such as in Chernobyl and Fukushima. This highlights the impacts of nuclear fallout and other atmospheric pollutants on the entire planet.

Clason said previous studies on nuclear accidents mainly focused on their impacts on humans and ecosystems in non-glaciated areas. However, evidence suggest that cryoconite on glaciers are more adept at collecting and storing dangerous levels of FRNs.

While high concentrations of FRNs have already been detected in the past, not much is known about how they could potentially impact the environment yet. This is something that Clason and her colleagues have been trying to explore in their research.

“Our collaborative work is beginning to address this because it is clearly important for the pro-glacial environment and downstream communities to understand any unseen threats they might face in the future,” Clason said.

Effects Of Radiation Exposure

The high levels of radiation produced after a nuclear disaster can cause long-lasting effects on human health. The longer the body is exposed to the energy, the more cells and tissues are damaged.

One of the most visible health effects of radiation is hair loss (Alopecia), which often occurs when people are exposed to 200 rems or higher.

The brain is also susceptible to damaging from nuclear exposure. Radiation with 5,000 rems or higher can destroy small blood vessels and nerve cells, resulting in seizures and even immediate death in extreme cases.

High amounts of radioactive iodine can seriously damage the thyroid and other cells related to the gland. However, when used properly and in controlled doses, radioiodine can help treat thyroid cancer.

People exposed to 100 rems of radiation may experience a lowering of their lymphocyte cell counts. This leaves them more vulnerable to various infections.

Data from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombing suggest that symptoms of this form of radiation sickness can last up to 10 years, and can increase the risk of developing lymphoma and leukemia.



 


Leave a comment

Recent Events and how they affect climate change

I finished writing the book that is featured on this website in May 2016 and the EU referendum had not yet occurred.  Since then, there have been some momentous political events, many of which will have an effect on climate change.  Quite clearly, at the time of writing the last pages of the book, there was huge media attention on the referendum, most of which was attempting to influence people on the way they voted.  Much of what was written in the papers was lies.  At the time, I felt that all of this media attention was a distraction from the big issues facing the world and society as a whole.  In the book, I wrote that, in the light of the major issue of climate change, whether we stayed in or went out of Europe was neither here nor there.  It was not the biggest issue that required media attention.  Climate change was.

And yet, the media clamour over the whole issue has continued, distracting attention more and more away from the urgent issue of doing something about climate change.  It took a few months to get the book published and into print and I was able to write an addendum, which started to address these issues.  I now wish to build on them.

Firstly, there has been something of a panic in certain quarters about how leaving the EU will affect Britain’s economy.  This is mainly because favourable trading arrangements with EU countries may well be lost, leading to a reduction in the sales of British goods overseas and subsequent effects on the balance of payments. As a result, the new Prime Minister has been dashing hither and thither across the world, trying to establish new trading links with non-EU countries. Establishing trading links further afield will have an adverse effect on climate change because of the longer journeys that will need to be made to take British goods to these far-flung countries, leading to the burning of more fossil fuels on the way. What is now needed is a new radical approach, in which our thinking about the economy is completely rethought and overhauled.  I started to write about this in chapters 4 and 7 of my book but there are others, with much greater knowledge of economics than me, who have taken this further and who are writing about a new way forward.  One of these writers in Colin Hines in his book “Progressive Protectionism”.

Secondly, there has been a new president in the United States of America, Donald Trump. A man who is both ultra-racist and a misogynist.  A man with a big business background who has been a climate change denier for years.  He is placing in his team, other men from the big corporations, who also deny the existence of climate change, one of them being the former CEO of ExxonMobil, the largest corporation in the world, whose anti-climate actions are described in chapter 4 of my book. ExxonMobil leaders knew about fossil fuels and global warming as long ago as the 70’s yet, instead of spearheading research into finding new sources of renewable energy, they put their money into setting up a body which would publish false information about the effects of fossil fuels on global warming and climate change. They are the ones who are responsible for the danger that our planet is in at the moment – all of them climate-change-deniers.  It is also likely that Trump will revoke all of the progressive pro-climate measures that were introduced by the former President, Barack Obama.  Donald Trump also supports the concept of protectionism but in a regressive way, rather than a progressive way. In chapter 4 of my book, I indicate some of the ways in which each country can trade in order to protect both the environment and local economies.

Thirdly, there seems to be a global swing towards supporting populist extreme-right politicians and in discrediting “experts” opinions on a number of issues, including climate change.  I have posted a Media Lens article on this website, which gives more details on this.  As a scientist myself, it is important to me to have well-researched evidence to look at, when taking decisions about the stance I will take on particular decisions.  It would appear that the populist hoards have no such respect for expert opinion, especially if it does not support their own emotion-led and biased opinions on a number of issues, including climate change.

Fourthly, in chapter 6 of my book, I discuss the carbon footprint of war, including nuclear war.  In recent weeks there has been media reporting on a “failed” practice test of a British Trident warhead, which veered off course and had to be destroyed.  Fortunately, it contained no nuclear material but the incident has stimulated a discussion among scientists, who are part of the body, Scientists for Global Responsibility.  It would appear that this was not the first time a firing had gone wrong – there have been several before it – and it would appear that the whole system is outdated and dangerous.  And yet, Theresa May’s government have just approved a further renewal of the Trident missile, at a cost of billions of pounds. And only this week, there has been a report from Japan, that the Fukushima nuclear power station, which was destroyed in 2011 by a tsunami, is still emitting radioactivity that is way above the safe level for humans.  All of the evidence of the danger of nuclear weapons and the use of nuclear power is being ignored by politicians.

These are worrying times.