Blasphemous Article on Nuclear Power
11 January, 2010
There’s a fantastic opinion piece in today’s Irish Times by Simon Jenkins, entitled “World in the grip of nuclear paranoia”. It discusses two new books.
The first book, Radiation and Reason , is by an Oxford professor of physics, Wade Allison. It narrates the history and nature of nuclear radiation, culminating in an attack on the obsessive safety levels governing nuclear energy. These overstate the true risk, in Allison’s view, by up to 500 times, thus rendering nuclear prohibitively expensive and endangering the combat of global warming.
The second is Atomic Obsession by John Mueller, professor of political science at Ohio State University. Mueller describes the toxic fear associated with radiation from nuclear weapons. It distorts the balance of international relations and makes enemies of friends. The books jointly undermine conventional wisdom on the two greatest political challenges of the day, in the fields of energy and defence. They are sensational.
Radiation, says Allison, is nothing like as dangerous as the anti-nuclear lobby and its paranoid regulators claim. The permitted radiation level in the waste storage hall at Sellafield is so low (1 mSv per hour) as to be negligible, a figure achieved at vast cost. This compares with the 100 mSv threshold for even remote cancer risk and 5,500 for radiation sickness. According to Allison, someone would have to live for a million hours in Sellafield to absorb the same radiation as is administered in a hospital radiotherapy suite. Higher doses are permitted in food processing and even in medicinal resorts, with supposed beneficial or at least harmless effects.
Jenkins had better be careful that he doesn’t fall foul of our new blasphemy laws. Does he not know that the Irish Bishops have issued a fatwa against nuclear power? He might find himself €25,000 out of pocket for writing offensively about views which are strongly held by Irish Catholics (well, some of them anyway).