In Muller’s previous presentations on his YouTube show Veritasium, he has consistently confused the
naturally occurring radioactive potassium K, with the nuclear fission produced radioactive isotopes…..Muller seems to have no understanding of the way in which bananas are used in the body
What Muller and Thomas are doing is following the script from the tobacco and asbestos industries.
This documentary “Uranium – twisting the Dragon’s Tail” is just Series One. I would love to know who helped to fund Gene Pool Productions for PBS and SBS to produce this. I’m betting that Series Two will follow before long, with a glossy and positive story about Generation IV nuclear reactors.
The half lie of the Dragon’s Tail. Online opinion, By Noel Wauchope Thursday, 27 August 2015 The documentary “Uranium – Twisting the Dragon’s Tail” is the latest glossy and highly sophisticated soft sell for the nuclear industry. It’s also, if you look at it closely, rather confusing.
I will start from the end, because that’s where the main message of this film comes out clearly “Just imagine a world where reactors can produce immense amounts of clean, safe, energy. There is no such thing as a future without uranium.” These final words are said against a background of soaring celestial choirs.
This seems to be the formula now, in nuclear promotion. The 2013 propaganda film “Pandora’s Promise” carried the same positive message – an ever rocketing energy demand to be met by ever increasing, indeed limitless, electrical energy provided by new nuclear reactors.
But, like ‘Pandora’s Promise’, this new documentary devotes the first two thirds of its series to discussing the negative aspects of the nuclear industry. Episode One covers its history, ill effects of radiation, the atomic bomb and its use. Episode Two continues this, with a sympathetic attitude to Australian Aboriginal concerns.
Unlike “Pandora’s Promise” this film does not denigrate anti-nuclear activists, and there is no attempt to ridicule Dr Helen Caldicott, as “Pandora’s Promise” did.
Indeed, the first two episodes are beautifully clear and accurate, as well as entertaining. Really, I couldn’t criticise them.
With the final episode – that’s when the message kicks in, and also when it gets confusing…….
Muller consistently mixes up “natural” radiation with ionising radiation from nuclear fission. He talks about background radiation as “natural”. There’s no mention of the increased ionising radiation in the biosphere as a result of the atomic bomb testing in the 1950s and 60s.
In Muller’s previous presentations on his YouTube show Veritasium, he has consistently confused the naturally occurring radioactive potassium K, with the nuclear fission produced radioactive isotopes, such as caesium 137 and strontium 90. As part of this confusion he constantly uses bananas as a comparison https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRL7o2kPqw0.
Cesium-137 is 12 million times more radioactive than potassium-40. Another highly-radioactive fission product, strontium-90, releases almost 20 million times more radiation per unit mass than does potassium-40. Muller seems to have no understanding of the way in which bananas are used in the body. The human species has had thousands of years of experience with bananas and other foods containing potassium 40 (K40). We have a natural trace level of K40 in our bodies. When we eat bananas, our bodies excrete the extra cesium, so by the natural process of homeostasis, our K40 level remains the same. This is not the case with the very recently created radioactive isotopes from nuclear fission; they remain….., there is absolutely no mention of the effects of internal emitters of radiation – that is, the radioactive isotopes breathed in or ingested, that can sit in a body’s organs for years, decades, emitting high dose gamma radiation..
Moving on to the Fukushima nuclear accident, we are told that the psychological effects are the serious ones. What a great piece of spin this is! Of course the psychological effects are extremely serious. Wouldn’t you be worried, if you were a pregnant woman, or if you feared that your child might later get leukaemia, because you decided to return to a radioactive environment? It is the reality of increased risk of fatal illness that accentuates the other disastrous consequences of that accident.
Prof Thomas assures us “The most important studies will be those on the mental effects”. In the context of this documentary, that just makes me envisage more documentaries like this one – with more spin about how we mustn’t worry about ionising radiation…….
The documentary appeared in Australia at a very convenient time for the South Australian Royal Commission. Dr Muller often covers his back with remarks about nuclear weapons “the most savage thing that man has ever built” and like his “feeling that renewables are going so fast – perhaps we can use alternatives”. But ultimately, his is a message of confidence in nuclear power. He says “Every year uranium saves more lives than it has ever destroyed” Really? Where are the facts to back up these kinds of statements? And all is spoken with guru like solemnity, and the backing of soaring holy choral music……..
What Muller and Thomas are doing is following the script from the tobacco and asbestos industries. They know full well that the toll of cancers, heart conditions, birth defects, from persistent exposure to ionising radiation will not become apparent for decades. They would have us believe that it will be impossible to establish ionising radiation as the cause of this toll of suffering and death…….
We are living in a strange time, where science is valued if it brings a benefit to corporations. Dr Derek Muller and Professor Geraldine Thomas are comfortably ensconced in that world. But there must be some scientists out there who are like Sir Richard Doll, and whose work is motivated by the public good.
And we desperately need those scientists.
This documentary “Uranium – Twisting the Dragon’s Tail” is just Series One. I would love to know who helped to fund Gene Pool Productions for PBS and SBS to produce this. I’m betting that Series Two will follow before long, with a glossy and positive story about Generation IV nuclear reactors. http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=17624