The effects of nuclear weapons. Credible nuclear deterrence, debunking "disarm or be annihilated". Realistic effects and credible nuclear weapon capabilities for deterring or stopping aggressive invasions and attacks which could escalate into major conventional or nuclear wars.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Guardian writer George Monbiot roasts anti-nuclear radiation propaganda fanatic, Dr Helen Caldicott

Above: Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun (London, 11 April 2011) on George Monbiot's nuclear radiation effects U-turn (click on text above for larger view).

We have to be sure our facts about nuclear power are right, as the latest exchange with Helen Caldicott shows.

By George Monbiot. Published on the Guardian’s website, 13th April 2011

My request to Helen Caldicott was a simple one: I asked her to give me sources for the claims she had made about the effects of radiation. Helen had made a number of startling statements during a television debate, and I wanted to know whether or not they were correct. Scientific claims are only as good as their sources.

Here are three examples of the questions I asked and the answers she gave me.

At first I asked for general sources for her claims. She sent me nine documents: press releases, newspapers articles and an advertisement. Only one of them was linked to a scientific publication, the BEIR VII report published by the National Academy of Sciences. She urged me to read it. I did so and discovered that, far from supporting her claims, it starkly contradicts them. For example, it says:

- The risk of radiation-induced mutations in sperm and eggs, resulting in heritable disease “is sufficiently small that it has not been detected in humans, even in thoroughly studied irradiated populations such as those of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

- Regarding transmissible genetic damage from the exposure of future parents, such as “spontaneous abortions, congenital malformations, neonatal mortality, stillbirths, and the sex ratio of offspring ... there is no consistent evidence of an association of any such outcomes with exposure to environmental sources of radiation.”

- “On balance, the existing evidence does not support the conclusion that rates of childhood leukemia have increased as a result of radiation exposures from the Chernobyl accident.”

I began to wonder whether Helen has actually read this report, or was hoping that, at 423 pages, it would scare me away.

She claimed that “Turkish food is extremely radioactive.” The source she gave me said nothing of the sort. Instead it states the following: “TURKEY. Some 45,000 tons of tea was contaminated with Chernobyl radioactivity in 1986–1987, and more than a third of the 1986 harvest could not be used.” That says nothing about Turkish food, today. (Page 292).

She claimed that isotopes of krypton, xenon and argon “can mutate the genes in the eggs and sperm and cause genetic disease.” When I asked her for a source, she told me, “This is also described in my book.” In fact her book says (page 55): “There have never been any epidemiological studies performed on the effects of exposure to the noble gases xenon and krypton.” This flatly contradicts her own claim.

When I pressed her for better sources, her publishers wrote to me and said she did not have time to find them. Now she has had time – time enough to write an article for the Guardian attacking me – but still hasn’t supported the claims I questioned.

Instead, she compounds the damage. First she invents a quote, which she attributes to me. She says, “It is inaccurate and misleading to use the term “acceptable levels of external radiation”... as Monbiot has done.” I have never used this term, and never would.

Then she appears to suggest that iodine-131 can “continuously irradiate small volumes of cells ... over many years”. As it has a half life of 8 days, this seems unlikely. Again, a source would help to clear the matter up.

Then she makes a remarkable allegation. As a result of a conspiracy hatched with the International Atomic Energy Agency, since 1959 the World Health Organisation has “made no more statements on health and radioactivity.” This is completely false, as even the quickest search would have shown her.

For example, the WHO currently runs an Ionizing Radiation Programme and a Radiation and Environmental Health Programme, both of which assess the impacts of radiation on health. It has set up an International Research Advisory Committee “to identify gaps and under-discovered areas on health effects from low-dose exposures to ionizing radiation”. In 2006 it published a 167-page report titled Health Effects of the Chernobyl Accident.

As for the alleged conspiracy, this is a story that has been circulating among anti-nuclear campaigners for many years, becoming ever more lurid. ... This is what happens when we fail to be as sceptical about the ideas we like as we are about the ideas we don’t.

Incidentally, Helen has still not provided a shred of evidence for her claim that the recent report by another UN agency – the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation – into the Chernobyl disaster is “a total cover-up”. Twice I have asked her to substantiate this allegation; twice she has replied with accusations about the WHO. Is she aware that these are different agencies?

But perhaps most alarming is her continued reliance on the report by Alexey Yablokov, Vassily Nesterenko and Alexey Nesterenko, which claims that 980,000 people died as a result of Chernobyl. As its critics have pointed out, this figure cannot possibly be correct, as it arises from the extraordinary assumption that all increased deaths since 1986 from a host of diseases – including many which have no known connection with radiation – were caused by Chernobyl. The report has not been peer-reviewed and the academy which published it has distanced itself from it.

Continuing to use such a severely flawed document for your central claims about the health impacts of radiation hardly inspires confidence.

... I think these points are worth making, for several reasons. I believe that journalists should not stand by while misinformation is spread. If there is any value in journalism, it lies in trying to winnow fact from fiction, and helping people to form a more accurate view of the world.

If, on the basis of falsehoods and exaggerations, we make the wrong decisions, the consequences can be momentous. Two immediate issues leap to mind. The first is that countries shut down their nuclear power plants or stop the construction of new ones, and switch instead to fossil fuels. Almost all of us would prefer them to switch to renewables, but it seems that this is less likely to happen.

In response to the Fukushima disaster, for example, the German government insists that it will replace its nuclear plants with new renewable power sources – particularly large wind farms. ...

My fear is that the German programme will run into difficulties as a result of public objections to new wind farms, power lines and pumped storage plants. The government will discover that there’s a less contentious way to solve its problems: importing even more electricity from the Czech Republic. This carries low political costs but high environmental costs. Over 60% of Czech power is produced by burning coal. Not any old coal, but, for the most part, the dirtiest and most polluting of all forms: lignite and brown coal. ...

In deciding whether or not to retain nuclear power, we are not talking about some distant possible future in which human population, human desires and economic activity have all greatly declined, desirable as that might be. We’re talking about choices being made right now, starting from where we are, within the current economic model; choices which could, if the wrong decisions are made, have devastating consequences for future generations. If these decisions are guided by misinformation and exaggerations, those responsible for spreading false stories have a heavy moral burden to carry.

There’s a second sense in which this is a moral challenge, not just an intellectual one. We know that the consequences of underplaying the dangers of radiation could be hideous, and I fervently hope that this has not happened, and that the doses received so far by workers at Fukushima carry the low likelihood of causing cancer that scientists anticipate. We hear much less about the consequences of overplaying them.

What if, for example, the continuing dangers of radioactive pollution for the people in the nations around Chernobyl have been so greatly exaggerated that they have been exposed to 25 years of unnecessary terror and distress? What if this has caused serious and widespread psychological problems, as the UN Scientific Committee suggests(Page 513)? What if we have exploited vulnerable people – those born with deformities and genetic diseases – by parading their conditions as examples of the damage radiation has done, when the evidence suggests that they are not? What if the same burdens are inflicted on the people of Japan?

If that has happened, is it not a terrible thing to bear? Don’t we have a duty to interrogate ourselves as scrupulously as we can to ensure that we have not and will not do such a thing? ... If we spread misinformation, we could inadvertently achieve the opposite.

This is an especially difficult time to try to make the case for keeping the dangers of nuclear power in perspective. The frightening events at Fukushima are still unfolding, the disaster has been upgraded to category 7, making it one of the two worst such events on record. But it is just when the case is hardest that it most urgently needs to be made, however much anger this generates. If we don’t stick to the facts, if we don’t subject all claims to the same degree of scepticism, we could make a bad situation worse.

Monbiot, besides ignoring the actual physical mechanism for DNA repair enzymes which is at the heart of the subject, you're also 54 years too late. The lying on the long term effects of radiation was set in stone and in legislation in 1957 during the "ban nuclear test fallout" debates, congressional hearings and politically biased "peace" propaganda, and still today, no vote-grabbing politician (much less any politically correct scientist who knows where his next politically correct government funding grant is coming from) will even dare to think on this subject.

Relevant earlier posts on radiation effects are linked here, here, here, here, and here. (Monbiot also needs to read the facts about the negative feedback from greenhouse water vapour, which cancels out CO2 emissions; evidence linked here.)

The U.K. Scientific Advisory Branch at its height in 1967, influencing Peter Laurie’s book on civil defence, Beneath the City Streets

In 1970, Penguin published Peter Laurie’s Beneath the City Streets, which was included the first detailed discussion of some of the exaggerations of nuclear weapons effects due to political propaganda, originating from discussions between Laurie (born 1937) and the U.K. Home Office Scientific Advisory Branch civil defence department in 1967. Laurie writes on page vi: “This book grew slowly out of an article I wrote in 1967 for the Sunday Times Magazine on British civil defence.”

The publisher’s dust jacket blurb states: “The fear of bombing, in fact, has always been rather greater than its actual effects. ... How realistic are those pamphlets advising us to sandbag our stair-cupboards and whitewash our windows? ... Refusing to accept the guarantees of total destruction, he details the ... startling numbers that will survive any conceivable conflict.”

On page 17, Laurie points out that 75% of casualties in the London Blitz were caused by blasted flying glass, and on page 20 states: “Houses as shelters. The chances of people in such relatively fragile structures would seem to be small, but Second World War experience shows that they are surprisingly good ... although the weapon that demolishes a house may vary enormously in size and range, the weight of a house remains the same, and in most cases the staircase is strong enough to support the debris that will fall on it. So people who shelter under the stairs – idiotic as this may sound for a precaution against nuclear weapons – will ... have a good chance of surviving almost complete destruction of their homes.”

He discusses thermal radiation lies on pages 23-4: “Detailed experiments have been done on the distances from ground zero at which different materials are set on fire. ... Solid wooden objects – tables, chairs etc – will be charred, and may flame briefly, but ‘persistent ignition is improbable under the conditions of a nuclear explosion’ (Reference: Effects of Nuclear Weapons, p. 303). It is possible that the thermal ranges quoted here may considerably exaggerate. An American scientist who took part in the mid 1950s series of megaton tests in the Pacific wrote:

“Reliance on the Effects of Nuclear Weapons for valid conclusions has its shortcomings. For example ... I was on the deck of the YAG 39 which was on station some twenty miles from the shot point of a detonation with a yield near ten megatons. The thermal flash did not produce the predicted second degree burn on the back of my neck, or indeed any discomfort at all.” (Reference: Carl F. Miller, Scientist and Citizen, February-March 1966, p 17.)

YAG 39, which collected fallout samples for decontamination research at Operation Castle in 1954.

“And even if these ranges are true of the clear skies of the Nevada desert or of the Pacific, they are almost sure to be drastically reduced by British overcast. ... To cause a firestorm in a German city, the RAF found it had to drop 200 tons of bombs per square mile. The composition of these bombs was important since raising a firestorm was very difficult. ... It was necessary t begin with a good deal of high explosive to get the defenders down ... and to open buildings up [nuclear blast waves arrive after thermal flash energy, in the “wrong” sequence to start fires]. This had to be followed by a large number of four-pound thermite bombs, and then by more high explosive for at least half an hour to suppress the fire-fighting services and to keep householders from running upstairs to put the incendiaries out. Each incendiary burnt for 5-10 minutes at a temperature up to 6,000 C – about the same as the fireball’s surface, but actually in the room. Yet it was found that five out of six failed to set anything alight.”

He adds on page 33: “As we have seen, there are likely to be people left unhurt by blast and flash indoors over large areas who will be able, if they are prepared, to put out fires in buildings ...” So much for “nuclear winter” lies.

On page 203, Laurie comments: “Each side’s possession of strategic weapons is an invaluable bogy in the woodshed for the other. As part of this process, it seems that the effects of nuclear weapons have been considerably exaggerated. ... an H-bomb has not quite the all-destroying properties most people assume. ... Give enough H-bombs, it is true, a vast amount of damage can be done, but there are definite constraints on this damage; there are limits to the number than can be killed.”

Laurie on pages 108-9 gave a discussion of the 1962-3 U.K. Parliamentary “Select Committee on the Estimates” as an example of completely bogus attacks by officialdom on nuclear weapons effects facts and civil defence effectiveness (Eleventh Report from the Select Committee on the Estimates, Session 1962-3, The Home Office, H. M. Stationery Office, 1963):

“In 1962-3 the Estimates Committee took another look at civil defence, as part of an examination of the whole Home Office. Their scrutiny was less than searching this time, and partly obscured by the members’ inability to understand the principles of carrier-wave signalling over telephone land-lines. ... The Committee’s main strictures fell on a pamphlet issued by the Home Office called Advising the Householder on Protection Against Nuclear Attack [Civil Defence Handbook 10, 1963].

Although primarily intended as a training publication it is written in the form of advice to the householder, to whom however it is not readily available. ... In the opinion of your Committee the average householder who reads what to do in the event of imminent nuclear attack and is told, if driving a vehicle, that he should ‘Park off the road if possible; otherwise alongside the kerb’, will not form the impression that the civil defence measures taken by the Government are of any value whatsoever. (Reference: Eleventh Report from the Select Committee on the Estimates, Session 1962-3, The Home Office, H. M. Stationery Office, 1963, p. xxviii.)

This is a strawman argument, picking a sentence from a book completely out of context (the context was keeping roads cleared for use by civil defence and emergency vehicles) and then sneering at it. However, the actual booklet deliberately omitted all specific nuclear weapons test data which would make its advice credible by providing evidence for the effectiveness of the countermeasures it endorsed! Laurie himself falls for an old falsehood on page 109, stating that in the Blitz it took a team of 8 rescue workers 8 hours to dig out an average of 2.5 trapped people from demolished buildings. This is heavy rescue by hand in 1941, and ignores the release of lightly trapped casualties and the use of dog search teams and heavy rescue tracked cranes and mechanical removal of rubble later in the war, which speeded up rescue immensely after V1 and V2 attacks, increasing survival rates.

Laurie writes on page 50: “As Schelling pertinently remarks (Arms and Influence, Yale, 1966), the American army could have bought enough ice-picks to kill everyone in the world long before the invention of the atomic bomb. Doubtless the ammunition used in the trench bombardments of the First World War would have performed the same office if it could have been distributed. In classical times nations that rebelled against Rome were not infrequently extirpated to the last infant, their barns and harvests and homes burnt, their cattle driven off. The effect, though achieved piecemeal and by hand, was no different from the results close to ground zero of nuclear explosions.”

Drawing on Hannunian’s research, on page 145, Laurie points out that Russia lost 25 million people (12% of its population), 13% of its housing, and 27% of its wealth, yet recovered economically by 1950 and in 1955 had 170% of its pre-war living space. Russia received no help from America or Europe. With regard to nuclear weapons effects, Laurie comments on page 143: “It is worth remembering that in Hiroshima electricity and railways were working again within twenty-four and forty-eight hours of the attack.” Again, this was without any outside assistance, since 75% of the Hiroshima people survived.

Laurie is also the only author ever to use the vital anti-civil defence weapons effects and war effects exaggerations propaganda study in Terrence H. O’Brien’s official book, History of the Second World War, United Kingdom Civil Series, Civil Defence (London, 1955). On page 2, Laurie quotes some of the data. Two accurate surprise air raids on London by German Gotha bombers in summer 1917 produced 121 casualties per ton of bombs. This was just before air raid “duck and cover” advice was given out by the government in July 1917, stopping flying glass and blast translation casualties from blast waves. Overall, the 300 tons of bombs dropped on Britain in WWI caused only 11.4 casualties per ton, only 9.4% of the casualty rate from the 1917 Gotha attacks on London, where people deliberately went to watch the air raids from behind windows or while standing fully exposed outdoors.

Exactly the same occurred at Hiroshima and Nagasaki before the B-29s released their bombs: most people moved into positions of maximum exposure to the subsequent effects, to see the bombs fall. William L. Laurence, who accompanied the Nagasaki attack in the observation aircraft, writes on page 163 of his book Men and Atoms (Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1961): “... Monday, August 6, 1945, began as a bright, clear summer morning in Hiroshima. An air raid sounded about seven o’clock, Hiroshima time, when a lone American plane came circling overhead. It was the weather plane that had preceded the Enola Gay to check on the conditions of visibility ... at eight o’clock the all clear was sounded. ... daily observation planes had a mission ... to condition the people of the city, and of the three other cities selected as targets for atomic bombs – Kokura, Nagasaki and Niigata – getting them accustomed to the fact that a formation of no more than three planes flying at a high altitude of about thirty thousand feet did not drop highly explosive bombs.”

Laurence goes on to explain that the high casualty rate from initial nuclear radiation in Japan was due to a near starvation rationing diet and a lack of civil defence rescue training, quoting on pages 177-8 the following history of the Hiroshima nuclear attack recorded by the Reverend John A. Siemes of the Society of Jesus, who was one mile from ground zero:

“Thousands of wounded who died later could doubtless have been rescued had they received proper treatment and care, but rescue work in a catastrophe of this magnitude had not been envisioned ... Many of the wounded also died because they had been weakened by undernourishment and consequently lacked strength to recover ... It was noised about that the ruins of the city emitted deadly rays, that workers who went there to aid in the clearing died, and that the central district would be inhabitable for some time to come ... myself and others who worked in the ruined area for some hours shortly after the explosion suffered no such ill effects.”

Laurie shows on page 51 of Beneath the City Streets that with proper civil defence, “the bombing of German cities was ineffective as a means of killing civilians. Hamburg, one of the worst hit cities, lost 47% of its houses, but 3% of its people; Frankfurt lost 33% of houses and 1% of people; Kobe, in Japan, lost 50% of houses and 1% of people. (Reference: F. C. Ikle, Social Effects of Bomb Destruction, Oklahoma, 1967.)”

As proved by the German Gotha bombing of London in 1917, people standing up in the open or behind glass windows to observe daylight air raid can produce a casualty rate (121 per ton) which is 10.6 times higher than the average of 11.4 casualties per ton for all WWI air raids on England, where most attacks were at night. Hence, simple countermeasures consisting of just not going out of your way to become a casualty by moving into a position that gives a clear view of falling bombs causes a massive increase in survival chances.

Laurie on page 7 correctly explains how there was a cold war type psychology leading to secret military exaggerations of weapons and war effects in the 1920s, quoting from Richard M. Titmuss’s History of the Second World War, United Kingdom Civil Series, Problems of Social Policy (London, 1950, page 338): “The experts foretold a mass outbreak of hysterical neurosis among the civilian population ... People would regress to an earlier level of needs and desires. They would behave like frightened and unsatisfied children, and they would demand, with the all or nothing vehemence of infants, the security, food and warmth which the mother used to give in the past.”

In 1938, the British Air Staff claimed that Hitler could drop 600 tons a day on Britain, causing 121 casualties per ton like the surprise 1917 attacks on London, giving over 70,000 casualties per day. In addition, Laurie states on page 10 that in the first 3 weeks of WWII, it was expected that the bombing of London would produce 3-4 million psychiatric casualties, 3 million refugees, and 50% of the buildings wrecked:

“So, apart from the time scale, people were thinking then of devastation essentially nuclear in character. One of the first overt air-raid preparations made by central government was the distribution of a million burial forms to local authorities by the Ministry of Health in 1939 (Reference: R. M. Titmuss, Problems of Social Policy, 1950, p 21). At Scotland Yard, for instance, it was being debated whether the bodies of dead Londoners should be dumped wholesale into the gravel pits to the west of what is now London Airport, or whether it would be better to throw them into the Thames at high water, to be taken by the tide.

“Of course, as it turned out, the reports of our deaths were grossly exaggerated. Far from reproducing the best results of the First War, at 121 casualties per ton, 71,270 tons of German bombs, rockets and shells (on Dover) during the whole Second War killed 60,595 and seriously injured 86,182: a rate of just over two casualties per ton. ... The expected panic, the catastrophic loss of morale, did not happen. ... rates of mental illness and crime dropped ... It was found that the only thing that made people stay away was damaged houses, and even that had surprisingly little effect: on the average, complete destruction of one’s home caused six days’ absence from work.”

On pages 31-2, Laurie points out the rapidity with which all radiation and blast effects decay:

“Paradoxically, the more damaging an effect, that is the farther out its lethality stretches, the more can be done about it, because in the last fall of its power it covers vast areas, where small mitigations will save very large numbers of people. ...

“Most casualties are caused by flying glass, others by being caught in collapsed buildings. We have mentioned the protection afforded by the staircase in an ordinary house. In modern reinforced concrete offices, hotel buildings and flats, the best protection which could be reached in the available time would be in and around the central concrete service column. If no real refuge from glass is possible, then it is best to lie down under the window itself, face to the wall, so that the pane blows overhead, or to get under some solid piece of furniture. ... Wind drag is likely to blow vehicles over. The best people in them can do is to get out and lie down, as should people standing up in the open.”

The Home Office advice to take shelter in an improvised inner shelter for as long as possible against fast-decaying fallout radiation, under the stairs or under a shielded table in an inner room, was first given out for gas attacks in 1937, as Laurie points out on page 96. Antigas Protection of Houses (London, 1937), as cited on page 762 of C. W. Glover’s 1942 book Civil Defence, justifies the “inner refuge” shelter against gas attacks using gas experiment data from Porton Down. Laurie summarises the data as follows on page 96. People in the sitting room of a house with doors and windows closed but an open chimney with a fire burning in the grate, 20 yards downwind from the release of 1 ton of chlorine gas, found that the gas was kept out for 7 minutes, while tear gas was kept out for 13 minutes: “If they had gone to the elaborations of ARP Handbook No. 1 [“Personal protection against gas”, 1937] – sticking paper over all the cracks in the floor, making blanket traps over the doors, etc – this last time would have been increased to twenty hours.”

The percentage of air changed per minute inside a house with doors and windows shut is trivial. One familiar “criticism” made in 1937 about such “gas proofing” which is also pertinent to fallout and radiation, was the allegation that blast would break the windows and doors before gas arrived. This didn’t happen in World War II, despite the “near certainty” of fanatical exaggerations of war effects in 1937! Similarly, the blast will be too weak to break most windows over the larger part of the downwind fallout area from a nuclear explosion, so even assuming surface bursts (which were not used against Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the only ever use of nuclear weapons in war), it is a proved fact that this isn’t a problem in most cases where fallout shielding is needed. On page 137, Laurie disposes with two falsehoods of nuclear war scaremongering.

First, “it was Hamburg’s experience that rats are more susceptible to bombing than humans”, and secondly, Professor Ernest Sternglass’ theory that there is an “excess infant mortality” due to nuclear fallout (published in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, April 1969) is completely fictional, subjective delusion about what an “excess” means. Sternglass starts off with the false assumption that infant mortality is forever undergoing a steady decline and then assumes that any distortion to the steady decline rate are due to bomb test fallout. He ignores the true mechanism (the introduction of antibiotics) for the decline before bomb tests. Once the decline occurred, the death rate must stabilize again at a lower level, but Sternglass absurdly ignores the expected stabilization the antibiotics and falsely correlates the stabilization in the infant mortality curve to bomb test radiation. Laurie points out on page 137:

“At first sight, Sternglass’s results are impressive, but as Stewart in effect points out, the argument depends throughout on ‘excess’ infant and foetal deaths relative to a steady decline, and a decline in a death rate cannot go on steadily forever. If it did, in the absurd limit, it would pass zero, and more children would survive than were conceived or born. So the rates must sooner or later level off.”

Basically, fluctuations in death rates naturally occur all the time, so at any one time a particular death rate has a 50% chance of rising and a 50% chance of falling, thus a correlation to radiation in some varying death rate curve suggests absolutely no statistical causality unless there is a control group to eliminate other variables. There's a 50% chance that any varying factor is rising rather than falling, so there's a 50% probability of correlation occurring by sheer coincidence.

In Sternglass’s case, the cessation of a decline in infant mortality was simply due to complete implementation of antibiotics, not to the onset of fallout from nuclear testing! This fact doesn’t stop some fanatics from continually promoting pseudoscience today.

Update: 25 July 2011

"Professor Steve Jones, the author of a report on behalf of the BBC Trust, says the Corporation should not go out of its way to challenge 'consensus' views among the elite. That is a dangerous argument ... the BBC Trust is exactly wrong. Good journalism should be about testing and scrutinising elites, not uncritically peddling their propaganda to the masses."

- Daily Express editorial, 21 July 2011, p12.

James Delingpole, 'BBC's biased climate science reporting isn't biased enough' claims report, July 21st, 2011: "The report, as you may be aware, was written by my fellow Telegraph columnist Steve Jones. Besides being a fine and engaging writer, Dr Jones is a geneticist of distinction and I would certainly never dream of questioning his judgement in his fields of expertise (notably Drosophila and snails). Fortunately, as becomes quite clear reading the report, climate science isn’t one of them. Dr Jones sets out his ideological position fairly early on when he strives to bracket global warming “denialism” with a range of other syndromes ... I’d love to see his evidence for this casual slur-by-association. The distinction he tries to make between “scepticism” (good, up to a point, he thinks) and “denialism” (bad, obviously) is in any case a straw man argument. Of all the sceptics I’ve ever met or read, not a single one has ever striven to deny that climate changes nor that modest global warming has been taking place since 1850 (when we began emerging from the Little Ice Age).

What many of these sceptics – or deniers, if you must – do question is

a) whether – and if so by how much – this warming is anthropogenic (ie human-caused)

b) whether the warming constitutes a threat – or whether its benefits might in fact far outweigh its drawbacks

c) whether this warming likely to continue or whether – as happened without human influence at the end of the Roman warm period and the Medieval warm period – it will be followed by a period of natural cooling

d) whether the drastic policy measures (tax, regulation, “decarbonisation”, the drive for renewables) being enacted to ‘combat climate change’ will not end up doing far more harm than good.

Where they differ is over a fundamental scientific concept: “Correlation is not causation.” ... Another category error Dr Jones falls into is in his use of the Argumentum ad Verecundiam, the appeal to authority. He tells us: "The IPCC concluded that it is beyond doubt that the climate is warming and more than 90% likely that this has been driven by human activity."

And he cites an open letter to the journal Science by two hundred and fifty members of the US National Academy of Sciences: “(T)here is compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend.”

[The so-called "evidence" for the causal link between CO2 and temperature is a huge pile of pick-and-mix indirect proxy observations: tree growth rings and satellite "clear sky" area temperature proxies that ignore the rise of atmospheric cloud cover causing negative feedback, by ignoring the tree ring data after 1960 which indicate increased cloud cover, and also ignoring the fact that satellite surface temperature data is restricted to cloud-free areas, not the increasing areas under cloud cover which are precisely the areas where the cloud cover negative-feedback is occurring!

The only reliable evidence is the CO2 rise, and it's trivial compared to evidence for natural CO2 variations in the past, as shown even by the old GEOCARB models (which ignore negative feedback from cloud cover which increases as a function of CO2). All the temperature data was fiddled for the politically correct hockey stick curve by using tree-ring proxies to suppress temperature variability up to 1960 (tree rings are insensitive since hotter ocean increases evaporation and cloud cover, thus trees get less sunlight and this offsets the growth effect from natural air temperature variations).

From 1960-80 they rely on weather stations, affected by local hot air emissions from growing cities and industry. After 1980 they rely on satellite data, which implicitly ignores negative feedback because you can't measure Planck spectrum surface temperature through cloud cover, so you're measuring surface temperatures for cloud free areas, which is just another way of saying that you're biased against including evidence from the negative feedback due to increased cloud cover. Microwave temperature determinations of air temperature by satellites don't discriminate the altitude of the air whose temperature is being measured, and you're then biased in favour of measuring contributions from warmed air above clouds, obfuscating the effect on surface air temperatures under clouds by negative feedback from the increased cloud cover!

If they had any solid evidence at all, they could state the evidence, rather than merely stating they have formed a dogmatic consensus like a political party; in science the numbers of brainwashed followers are irrelevant, the facts are relevant instead. In politics, consensus vote size is what counts. This is the bias groupthink of dogmatic politics, not objective politics, let alone science. The lying methodology they use is as follows.

First, brainwash yourself that your objective is a "good" utopia, just as Hitler, Stalin, Saddam, and Gadaffi did. Second, write your manifesto under a grandiose title like "The Communist Manifesto", "The Guardian" or "Mein Kampf", to reinforce your self-delusion about a noble cause. Then take short cuts to achieving your cause in the belief "the ends justify the means"; use personal ad hominem "shoot the messenger" tactics - rather than scientific objectivity and facts - in dealing with criticisms. Brainwash yourself that critics are Trotsky vermin, to be ignored or better shot on sight. Then present yourself as a persecuted minority, struggling against vermin, an imitation of Hitler's propaganda. Then fiddle all "evidence" to conform to your utopian political prejudices, and use authority arguments to enable the media to censor criticisms. It's been tried and tested many times: epicycles, phlogiston, caloric, eugenics, Piltdown Man, Cold Fusion, supersymmetry, superstrings, M-theory, etc.

The climate change “debate” and bogus “science has settled” consensus is a fault of the critics for not winning the debate hands down, and flunking repeatedly with quick-fix speculations about sunspot variations causing global warming, which are not solid proven science and merely act as strawmen for the mainstream to attack. The mainstream then stereotypes all criticisms with the strawmen it has debunked, and then declares the "debate won" for eternity. Unsurprisingly, the BBC pick-and-mix politically correct “ethics” censors ignore the chance to endlessly promote Professor Steve Jones’ somewhat better informed and fact-qualified but
politically incorrect genetics advice on inbreeding risks among first cousin marriages in outraged ethnic communities,, while listening to his advice on global warming, a physical sciences subject he is unqualified in.

“Volo, mi Keplere, ut rideamus insignem vulgi stultitiam. Quid dices de primariis huius Gimnasii philosophis, qui, aspidis pertinacia repleti, nunquam, licet me ultro dedita opera millies offerente, nec Planetas, nec , nec perspicillum, videre voluerunt? Verum ut ille aures, sic isti oculos, contra veritatis lucem obturarunt.”

- Letter from Galileo to Kepler, 19 August 1610

(“I want, my Kepler, that we laugh at the enormous stupidity of people. What do you say about the main philosophers of this Gymnasium, who, full of the obstinacy of the serpent, never wanted to see the Planets, the Moon, the telescope, although I was offering facts, expressly for them, for a thousand times. Really, they closed their eyes against the truth in the same way as that one closed his ears.”)

“Oh, my dear Kepler, how I wish that we could have one hearty laugh together! Here, at Padua, is the principal professor of philosophy whom I have repeatedly and urgently requested to look at the moon and planets through my glass, which he pertinaciously refuses to do. Why are you not here? What shouts of laughter we should have at this glorious folly! And to hear the professor of philosophy at Pisa laboring before the Grand Duke with logical arguments, as if with magical incantations, to charm the new planets out of the sky.”

- Galileo’s letter to Kepler, quoted by Sir Oliver Lodge, Pioneers of Science, page 106.]

But as both Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn could have explained to Dr Jones, science does not advance through “consensus”; and as Einstein could have told him, science is not a numbers game. When Hitler commissioned the book 100 Authors Against Einstein, Einstein coolly replied that if he were wrong, one author would have been enough.

As Biased BBC notes, it has been five years since the BBC officially abandoned all pretence that it was adopting a neutral position on “Climate Change”. ... The conclusion, however, he draws from this is ... that media organisations like the BBC aren’t doing enough to promote the “correct” version of reality. “The divergence between the views of professionals versus the public may be seen as evidence of a failure by the media to balance views of very different credibility.”

[Luckily the BBC wasn't around in 1905 to dismiss the "credibility" of patent examiner Einstein, or in 1609 to dismiss the "credibility" of Galileo against the profitable mainstream quacks.]

Tree ring proxies rely on correlating air temperature to photosynthesis rates. Sunshine variation effects on photosynthesis due to cloud cover variations are ignored completely. This is a fraud because an effect of the negative feedback from water evaporation is increased cloud cover, which reduces sunshine and hence photosynthesis. Hence, there is a factual mechanism at play which ensures that tree ring proxies will suppress large swings in estimated air temperatures. As the air temperature goes up, more water is evaporated and carried aloft to form clouds, which suppress sunshine. So the enhancement of tree ring growth from increased air temperature is offset by the increased cloud cover, giving a tree ring growth record which - analyzed using the false assumption of constant cloud cover - gives a misrepresentative air temperature record with smaller fluctuations.

This is an obvious explanation of why tree ring growth records show smaller swings in apparent air temperature in the 1960s-present than direct temperature measurements, or satellite data.

Next we have the systematic errors in weather station data, which are used for the period 1960-80. Industrial growth and growing cities in this period produced direct local warm air emissions which affected the data. This 2C "urban heat island" effect has been proved experimentally; cities are a warmer than the unpopulated areas at similar latitude and with similar average weather, It has nothing to do with alleged CO2 global warming, but it contaminates early direct temperature measurements, in cities or downwind of industrial factories, power stations, steel mills, etc.

Then after 1980, we have satellite data. You can't measure air temperature in space, because there's no air. So it's down to indirect sensors of temperature, which again introduce bias into the data. If you rely on microwave radiation by air molecules, the satellite is measuring an integrated average temperature of the entire vertical depth of the atmosphere, not the sea level air. This is biased against negative feedback, which only occurs in low level air below clouds. The air near the tops of clouds is warmed by sunlight, so the microwave air temperature data excludes negative the feedback from cloud cover. It gives a misrepresentative air temperature, excluding the effect of low altitude air cooling from increased cloud cover.

Finally, Planck thermal spectral emission temperature data for the earth's surface gives a reliable surface temperature reading by satellite, but only for surface areas not covered by clouds. So it is biased in favour of clear sky areas, precisely "greenhouse effect" with no negative feedback. It automatically excludes the surface temperature contributions from the 62% of earth's surface which is under clouds, and it is this area which suffers negative feedback (cooling), not the clear sky areas. So all satellite temperature data implicitly excludes negative feedback effects on surface air temperature.

To my mind, this systematic "temperature record" fiddling is the key problem in the AGW debate. Since cloud cover has been increasing as CO2 increased, the effects of the increasing shadowed surface area is excluded from estimates of temperature. When you include these effects, there the overall temperature rise as a function of CO2 emission falls by as much as a factor of ten; negative feedback from a small increase in cloud cover cancels out the CO2 "greenhouse effect".

Adam Curtis's latest offering ("All watched over by machines of loving grace", episode 2, "How the idea of the ecosystem was invented", BBC2, 30 May 2011, 9pm) is more substantial in research depth and ideas than his earlier 1992 attack on systems analysis in Pandora's Box: To the Brink of Eternity.

In this new episode, which gets ever better towards the end, Curtis makes an effort to attack - in a compelling way - the basic errors in mainstream political eco-evangelism. He gets down to business and shows that systems analyst Jay Forrester, who designed early warning radar computer analysis systems in the 1950s, was behind the Limits to Growth Club of Rome environmentalism scam in the early 1970s. Forrester claimed to include feedback loops for all possibilities in the computer model he developed for the Club of Rome, but in fact omitted all feedback loops for human responses to overpopulation and the energy crisis, such as political actions.

In other words, the Club of Rome's disaster predictions for overpopulation, starvation, lack of sufficient energy resources, and pollution were all based on the assumption that the world would not politically adapt to growth to compensate for them. As a result, the computer forecast led to a prediction with a false claim behind it: there will be disaster unless the world is stabilized in its present form to stop further growth. The more sensible option of naturally taking countermeasures against the undesirable effects of growth was neglected in favour of stabilizing the world in its present form. (This claim is identical to the Cold War era nuclear war propaganda "science", which claimed that we will cease to exist if we don't disarm, neglecting the fact that similar gas warfare lies in the 30s caused appeasement and ethnic minorities being exterminated not by bullets or bombs but by cold-blooded starvation and gas chambers in concentration camps.)

Adam Curtis goes further still, arguing that this claim was supported by another error as well, an error from the leading ecologists of that time who claimed that there is a cybernetic type "ecosystem" in nature which is stabilized into a stable equilibrium by feedbacks that counterbalance all change. E.g., Odum's textbook, Fundamentals of Ecology which portrayed the Earth as simply a network of ecosystems, like a well oiled, predictive, stable machine. Cybernetics is the study of feedbacks in systems analysis, developed originally by Norbert Wiener after WWII anti-aircraft guns were linked to radar by a mechanical computer which was designed to predict the location of the aircraft when a shell arrived at the aircraft, and to compute and fire the shell accordingly to maximise the probability of hitting the target and thus improve the efficiency of anti-aircraft defenses (which when used manually, routinely missed high speed aircraft due to the problem of firing shells which would arrive at the correct spacetime location some seconds later).

The "ecosystem balance of nature" theory, Curtis explains, was first abused to defend racism status quo by Field Marshall Smuts in South Africa in the 1930s. Smuts used the "ecosystem" to argue for a stable "holistic" (a word he coined) world, in which everything and every race has its "natural place": racial apartheid was therefore deemed to be essential to maintaining the balance of nature, and preventing instabilities in the ecosystem. This pseudoscience was used to try to "justify" racism, just as eugenics pseudoscience was then being used by the Nazis.

Adam Curtis states: "What Smuts was doing showed how easily scientific ideas about nature and natural equilibrium could be used by those in power to maintain the [racist] status quo."

He interviews the skeptical environmental activist Tord Björk, who states: "The trick is claiming that you have something as nature, and in nature you have this balance, and we need society to have the same balance. And then it becomes unquestionable, because you cannot change nature."

Enforcing global status quo is convenient to racists and the West because it helps to retard industrial revolutions in the third world, keeping the West ahead in the game. It is a false solution to overpopulation to claim that there is a "balance of nature" which must be "maintained". If there was a balance of nature, how did evolution occur? Why are most species that have ever lived extinct - long before the arrival of humans? Clearly, nature is not in a perfect Biblical Eden equilibrium. It's always changing.

Enter Buckminster Fuller, the architect of the "buckyball" and "fullerine" designs of radar dome and carbon molecules, a spherical shell made up from numerous small triangles. Fuller claimed that we live in "spaceship Earth" eternally cruising through space, assembled from fragile interdependent ecosystems all working in harmony and equilibrium, like the individual fragile triangles meshed together to form his strong domes. This was cemented by photos of the earth taken by NASA astronauts on the moon in the late 1960s. Curtis states:

"But at precisely this moment in the mid-1970s [when ecosystem collapse scaremongering reached its climax in the media], the science that supported the idea fell apart. The fatal flaw in the theory of the self-regulating ecosystem was exposed. A new generation of ecologists began to produce empirical evidence that showed that ecosystems did not tend towards stability, that the very opposite was true, that nature - far from seeking equilibrium - was always in a state of dynamic and unpredictable change."

This brings to mind the old "heat death of the universe" hype from the 19th century (the third law of thermodynamics, eternally increasing entropy or a tending towards temperature equilibrium in the universe, which would prevent any work from being done since there would be no cool heat sink left anywhere). The fact that the universe is accelerating in its expansion suggests that the expanding expanses of space between stars will provide an eternal heat sink and that thermal equilibrium therefore cannot be obtained; the third law of thermodynamics only predicts a thermal equilibrium in a closed system or non-expanding universe. The redshift of radiation dumped into an expanding, accelerating universe will ensure that the radiation we see coming out of space will always be cooler than the radiation we dump into it! Thus, the impending "heat death of the universe" is a hoax.

Curtis then interviews ecologist Dr Steward Pickett, who states:

"Ecologists really thought that we were dealing with a stable world. You didn't question it at all. Now the really remarkable thing is, when people began to find out that that might have some chinks in it, that that might not be right, people were really almost viscerally upset. Ecologists, many ecologists, were almost viscerally upset, because it offended that very comfortable idea that nature was stable."

This is like the response of superstring theorists to Dr Peter Woit. Adam Curtis then points out that "environments that were supposed to be models of stability" were revisited by ecologists, who found, on closer inspection, that they weren't stable ecosystems after all. The very interesting point is also made by Curtis that a mirror image of this instability occurred in efforts to make human 1960s "communes" work without politics:

"In the communes, anything that smacked of politics was forbidden. No coalitions or alliances with others in the group were permitted."

Instead of producing a natural stability as predicted, the lack any formal political structures prevented any organized opposition from forming against the emergence of dictatorship by powerful personalities who dominated and intimidated the weaker personalities in the group. The "communes" went bad. Curtis fails to point out the analogy to peer-review politics in science, where exactly the same opposition to politics is implemented in order to free science from democratic principles, but the result is a dictatorship by status quo mainstream ideas, instead of an objectivity-driven enterprise. Attempts to cut "politics" out of "scientific" communes and other "logic based" organizations failed, because they simply banned the kind of political structures that represent opposition, and by preventing organized opposition, permitted powerful personalities to take dictatorial control by intimidation. The claim of outlawing "politics" is used to simply outlaw democratic political methods in deference to dictatorial mainstream majority-is-right intimidation, abuse, and corruption political methods. Curtis just concludes:

"What began to arise up in the 1970s was the idea that we and everything on the planet are connected together into complex webs and networks. Out of it come epic visions and utopian ideas about the world wide web and the global economic system. Underlying this was a profound shift. What was beginning to disappear was the enlightenment idea, that human beings are separate from the rest of nature, and masters of their own destiny. Instead, we began to see ourselves as components, cogs in a system, and our duty was to help that system to maintain its natural balance."

(The first episode in Adam Curtis's new series is less impressive. He attacks the pursuit of wealth in the American dream in the novels of Ayn Rand as being the basic cause of the current world recession, claiming that Monica Lewinsky distracted Bill Clinton's attention from the regulation of the American economy in the 1990s, which paved the way for a hands-off approach which permitted a boom-bust debt bubble to grow and burst. However, this over-generalises. The failure of communist state economic regulation in the USSR proves that it is not good enough to over-regulate because that stifles the forces of progress like innovation and particularly competition for profit. The entire cause of the world recession is due to the gambling of the banking sector, which lent money for mortgages which in turn fuelled the property development boom. Gambling in debt portfolios by the banking sector fueled the false economic boom - a debt bubble - which caused the crisis. It is folly to blame Ayn Rand for this: she argued for the creation of wealth by work, not by bank gambling or buying for resale dud lottery tickets, debt portfolios. The way to stop further economic crises is to nationalise the banks and prevent - by firing the investment bankers - or driving them out of our economy to jobs overseas, so we lose them and their disastrous gambling - and make money by producing goods and genuine services; gambling with investors money is not an honest service. Curtis instead seems to try to attack capitalism generally instead of the gambling of the banking sector, the demotivating mistake Marx made.)

Quantum field theory

Fig. 1: revised electromagnetic force mechanism diagrams, 4 June 2011. This blog is becoming a diary of developments. These are for a new paper, a revised version of my articles in the August 2002 and April 2003 issues of Electronics World.

Fig. 2: some background experiments and facts for understanding the content of Fig. 1.

Above: disaster recovery organization, from Abstruse Goose.

Update: other examples of “groupthink” wishful thinking

Over the next few years, there will be the 50th and 100th anniversaries of expert failures: in 2012 the 100th of the Titanic, 2013 the 50th of the Kennedy assassination, and in 2014 the 100th of the outbreak of WWI. In all these cases, the “controversies” stem to confusion between the underlying cause of the failures for which people in authority are responsible, and purely random risks that act as obfuscation and are pointed to as excuses to get people off the hook of responsibility. Attributing “cause” is then a purely subjective matter of bias and free choice. If you want to dismiss human responsibility and to believe instead that the Titanic was a great, well-run ship that simply had the “bad luck” or “fate” to hit an iceberg, you just ignore the facts that:

1. the crows nest binoculars were locked in a cupboard with the key unavailable,
2. its hull was riveted with weak, high-slag content rivets,
3. it carried a number of lifeboats proportional determined by regulations according to its weight rather than to the number of passengers, the Captain had cancelled the lifeboat drill, and failed to even ensure that the few lifeboats were filled to capacity,
4. the Captain was under pressure from various top brass abroad to make a quick maiden voyage, and falsely claimed that sailing at full-speed into an iceberg area would be safest, because it ensure the quickest passage through the danger area,
5. Titanic radio operators had an argument with the nearest ship’s radio operators just before the accident, causing them to turn off their radio and be unavailable in the disaster.

The point is, there are many factors demonstrating substantial human incompetence at all levels that stacked up to turn an accident into a disaster. The inquiry afterwards by the Board of Trade “experts” was a whitewash and cover up since those “experts” had themselves set up the disastrous tonnage (rather than passenger) based lifeboat policy for ships, largely responsible for Titanic fatalities. But there is a long-term media reluctance to blame the “experts” responsible for turning a crisis into a disaster. Icebergs are a natural phenomenon; it is up to people to deal with them. The cult of trying to excuse “expert” failures by turning natural phenomena into something beyond human control is absurd and self-evidently wrong.

“Ignorance and misinformation can handicap the progress of a city or a company, but they can, if allowed to prevail in foreign policy, handicap this country’s security. In a world of complex and continuing problems, in a world full of frustrations and irritations, America’s leadership must be guided by the lights of learning and reason - or else those who confuse rhetoric with reality and the plausible with the possible will gain the popular ascendancy with their seemingly swift and simple solutions to every world problem.”

- Warning about popular rhetoric in the undelivered speech of Kennedy was prevented from delivering to the Dallas Trade Mart on 22 November 1963.

Consider the gross groupthink smokescreen over the assassination of Kennedy in 1963. Lee Oswald, a former marine and communist, was thrown out of the Soviet Union with his wife, and then became disillusioned with the results of his peaceful “hands off Cuba” campaign against Kennedy’s anti-Castro policy following Kennedy’s successful resolution of the Cuban missiles crisis a year earlier. His pro-Castro campaigns in Texas consisted of just him in a single-handed protest, being ignored by the media. He had passed marine rifle training and when Kennedy planned a visit to Texas he ordered a rifle with telescopic sights, using a false name and a post office box address he owned. As the computer reconstruction (video below) using the Zapruder film shows, hard evidence showed Oswald fired three of four rounds at Kennedy from the sixth floor of the Texas School Depository where he worked and admitted being at the time of the assassination. The first shot missed, but was heard by Texas Governor Connolly, who turned slightly. The second slowed down while passing through Kennedy’s neck and then hit Texas Governor Connolly in the back, where its shock wave broke various bones while being deflected within his body by dense tissue, emerging on a downward slant from his chest to hit his arm and leg, emerging intact. Oswald then hit Kennedy in the head with the third shot which passes right through (creating a visible exit effect) without imparting all of its momentum, so the net result is that reflex from destroyed nerve tissue causes neck muscles to move the head back, not forward. (This is a sticking point for conspiracy theorists with a simplistic understanding of the science; a bullet only imparts all of its momentum when stopped, not when passing straight through. Biological reflexes and muscle forces are fast enough and strong enough to negate the relatively small amount of momentum the bullet actually transfers to head when passing through.) Oswald then left his rifle and the three spent cartridges, returning home to get a pistol. Police circulated his description to patrols by radio, and Oswald was apprehended, shooting the police officer. There were 7 witnesses to that, including a positive identification of Oswald. Despite this, Oswald denied the shooting, and absurdly claimed to the press that he was picked up just because he had been in the Soviet Union. Only two shots hit Kennedy, and the wounds were photographed at the autopsy and filmed by Zapruder. Reconstruction by computer shows that the shots came from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, where Oswald’s rifle was found. If there were other assassins, they missed Kennedy and so are irrelevant.

The key point here is that the evidence does not point to a conclusion which the mainstream media and politicians want to hear. They don’t want to base any conclusions on hard facts that show a crazed communist assassinated Kennedy. Such a fact would be deemed “boring” and contrary to liberal dreams that Kennedy was a hero figure to communists, “seeking peace with the Soviet Union and Cuba”.

Similarly, it is “politically incorrect” to attribute the outbreak of WWI in August 1914 to:

1. the German Kaiser’s 1912 war plan which aimed to seize any excuse for war in 1914,
2. to British Foreign Secretary Edward Grey’s failure to inform Germany clearly in advance that Britain would declare war if Germany invaded Belgium.

Instead, it is “politically correct” to believe incompetent Edward Grey’s lie that a European arms stockpile and a “sense of insecurity” had made war “inevitable”. Arms stockpiles did not meet to decide on starting a war. War was made inevitable by human incompetence, Grey’s incompetence in making British policy ambiguous. The assassination of an Austrian prince was milked as an excuse for mobilisation. Random events only escalate if there is an underlying desire to go to war. Leaders are responsible for their actions, whether they like it or not, and cannot objectively blame inanimate arms stockpiles for war.

So they use their bias to block the relevant facts, creating obfuscation by allowing irrelevant “noise” to act like a smokescreen, covering up the conclusions from relevant hard, solid evidence. This is a widely used tactic not only in politics but also in science itself. In fact, the problem can be far worse in science, which to reinforce and defend forever each successive revolution in ideas ends up as a kind of “old boy club” dictatorship, because educational authority control via peer-review is used specifically to defend mainstream status quo, on the false assumption that consensus and popularity are valid substitutes for scientific objectivity.

People are subject to a dictatorial groupthink culture of subjectivity, false bias, superstitions, and irrelevant wishful thinking. The reason is an innate human “boredom” with the usual presentation of objective facts! Thus, many people defend superstitions by making more “interesting” or entertaining movies and articles than the few people defending the facts, who do so in a “patronising”, “authoritative”, “boring”, “pedagogical” (clinical, rather than impassioned) way which appears poorly argued (despite being correct), failing to “entertain” and “inspire interest”. Facts do not always speak for themselves; they are often naturally (if not deliberately) submerged and obfuscated by irrelevant “noise”.

Simply arguing with opponents just adds to the appearance of being “patronising”, because you can’t ever disprove any of their asserted superstitions. Nobody has ever disproved fairies. Science is not concerned with disproving fairies. It is not about superstitions. But if you explain this clearly, everyone listening will agree that you “sound unreasonable”! In quantum gravity, in 1996 we disproved the need for spin-2 gravitons by publishing predictions of the full observed effects of quantum gravity and cosmological acceleration (two years ahead of observation) with spin-1 gravitons, but it is still ignored in deference to loud noise emissions from status quo. All we can try to do is to make our evidence more appealing. Science is about overthrowing prejudices, a long and difficult battle against the vested interests of the “superstring” status quo. Publishing the basic facts is not the end of the battle, but hardly the beginning.

Publishing facts works if there is a sympathetic ear towards those facts in the first place. In a culture of superstition worship, such publication is viewed as an “ignorance” of superstitions and an act of hostility towards status quo, which must be defended. Once the mainstream of “science” builds up a massive multi-layered structure of speculative fantasy like epicycles or M-theory, all alternative ideas are deemed “ignorant” and contrary facts are not welcomed but opposed as a danger. There is no correlation between the acceptance of incremental advances within an established framework of science, and the treatment of facts that disagree with the mainstream dogma.

If your facts disagree with the mainstream, you are expected to first publish a complete replacement to the mainstream speculative framework, despite the fact you haven’t exactly had thousands of mainstream researchers funded to work on your project like the mainstream. This goes some way to explain why people like Newton and Darwin took about twenty years to compile additional background evidence and examine in as much detail as possible a wider range of implications, before publication. It is a falsehood to believe that a scientist can come up with a radical fact and win over the mainstream from its alternative idea by simply publishing one fact.

This belief is analogous to believing that you can stop evil and be widely supported simply by denouncing it. You should expect to be ignored if weak and to be viewed as a nuisance if stronger, and to have a battle on your hands to first win over any interest, and then to then be strongly opposed by long-range indiscriminate shelling (not reasonable discussion) from the enemy camp if you do find any support. Few people express “interest” and these are opposed by bitter “critics” who are determined to denounce your work without first checking your calculations. It is vital to keep improving presentations of calculations and diagrams to reduce the time and effort readers need to invest in your papers in order to understand important points.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Declassified data on structures exposed to nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific

Castle Yankee 13.5 megatons.

Castle-Bravo 12 vacuum tube array from bomb.

The pipes along the causeway from the Bravo bomb to Namu (Charlie) island were Dr Sterling Colgate’s experiment to measure Bravo’s thermonuclear burn rate: piping collimated neutron radiation inside 12 vacuum pipes each of 15 cm diameter, extending 1.4 miles from the bomb to Station 1200 (the shelter located at the far end of Namu Island, still there today). These vacuum pipes, to minimise absorption of the collimated neutrons, replaced the Krause-Ogle helium-filled box used at the so-called "Ganex" GAmma-Neutron EXperiment in the 1952 Mike test, where secondary gamma rays from neutrons striking Mike’s steel case travelled through helium, arriving with little attenuation before the neutrons. The 14 MeV neutrons arrived at the detector before the tube was destroyed by blast near the bomb, and travelled faster than the lower energy neutrons, allowing the spectrum of the neutrons to be determined simply by using the time-of-arrival discrimination method.

Above: above ground shelter survived 130 psi peak overpressure and fireball engulfment from 15 megaton Bravo nuclear test.  Station 1200 on Namu ("Charlie") island, Bikini Atoll, survived just 1.4 miles from 15 megaton Castle-Bravo nuclear bomb test, despite being designed to withstand only 50 psi from the predicted 6 megaton yield.  This shelter was connected directly to the nuclear bomb by Colgate's 12 neutron-carrying vacuum pipes (seen extending to the bomb in the photo above).  Bravo’s predicted yield was 6 Mt, but was unexpectedly boosted by a factor of 2.5 when Li-7 (60% of Bravo’s lithium) was fissioned into tritium by 14 MeV neutrons.  Bravo's crater (before and after photos) is shown below and comes up to the edge of Namu Island, but Station 1200 was intact despite ground shock; please remember that coral is easily crushed by the blast, unlike ordinary silicate soil, so craters on a city will be much smaller, even if you forget the error due to ignoring gravitational potential energy for excavating in the Glasstone and Dolan crater scaling laws.

"This structure [Station 1200] proved remarkably resistant to very high blast pressures. ... The structure performed its mission despite an overpressure [130 psi incident peak overpressure, before more than doubling due to blast reflection], almost three times that for which the structure was originally designed." - Wayne J. Christensen, Blast Effects on Miscellaneous Structures, Operation Castle, Project 3.5, July 1955, Secret - RD, WT-901, page 27.

The detail failures were things like a blast doors (facing the blast) being forced into Station 1341.  This blast door was however not shut but actually open at the moment of explosion to allow instruments to observe the fireball growth, and then a gadget tried to slam the door shut automatically just before the supersonic blast wave arrived (a feature that depended on the exact yield, because the arrival time is much faster than sound within the fireball radius).  The easy swing-close door, designed for only 50 psi incident overpressure, was forced in by 130 psi from the unexpected 15 megatons yield of Bravo.

At Eniwetok Atoll, structures were torn down in 1979 during the decontamination process (most of the danger was from unexploded WWII shells remaining from the Japanese occupation of Eniwetok, not fallout).  Photo below shows a typical shelter surviving intact after several H-bomb tests over on Eniwetok Atoll in 1977, before the clean up operation of 1977-9 (see the 1957 edition of Glasstone's Effects of Nuclear Weapons - not later editions - for the internal blueprint of a standard 100 psi peak overpressure nuclear tested shelter):

Above: the 100 psi peak overpressure surviving nuclear test-proved shelter in the 1957 edition of Glasstone's Effects of Nuclear Weapons. 

A SUMMARY OF UNDERGROUND AND EARTH-COVERED LOADING AND RESPONSE SYSTEMS SUBJECTED TO THE EFFECTS OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS DURING FULL-SCALE TEST OPERATIONS CONDUCTED 1951 - 1958, 31 August 1963, report DASA-1390, AD340311, previously Secret-FRD. This report lists all the nuclear weapons tests, the blueprints for the structures exposed at each, the distance and peak overpressure, etc., and the effects which resulted.

Since Bikini and Eniwetok atolls are relatively small, the higher yield tests repeatedly exposed instrument station structures left over from previous testing to further detonations, so that the effects of repeated blasts were ascertained. This is contrary to so much of the ignorance-based anti-civil defense propaganda which insists that nobody knows what repeated nuclear explosions will do to targets.

DAMAGE TO EXISTING EPG STRUCTURES, 17 October 1960, report WT-1631, AD355505, previously Secret-FRD, contains useful tables of the effects of repeated nuclear detonations on the testing structures at Bikini and Eniwetok atolls during the nuclear tests at those atolls, including the final tests there in 1958.

Wayne J. Christensen, Blast Effects on Miscellaneous Structures, Operation Castle, Project 3.5, July 1955, Secret - RD, WT-901.

What needs to be produced is a new summary of atmospheric nuclear tests, incorporating these detailed data on the effects of specific tests upon specific target structures.

Above: in the 10.4 megaton Mike nuclear test on Elugelab Island, Eniwetok Atoll, 1952, the rats (species Rattus exulans) of Engebi survived the heat, blast, and fallout as explained by Neal O. Hines in his book Proving ground: An account of the radiobiological studies in the Pacific, 1946-1961, dramatically on pages 143, 151, 209-212, and 297:

Page 143: "On ... November 8 [7 days after Mike] ... At Engebi the group went ashore on an island ... that had been swept by the blast and by the succeeding surge of water. ... survey meters indicated radiation was at 2 to 2.5 R/hr [about 1,000 R/hr at 1 hour after detonation, allowing for t-1.2 fallout decay] ...

Page 151: "The exposure of Engebi to the effects of the Mike shot made it seem impossible that rats had survived.  The view was expressed in a subsequent summary by [Frank] Lowman, who said that there was 'little probability that rats had lived through the heat, the shock wave, the rush of water, and the nuclear radiations that Mike had inflicted on the island.  Members of the rat colonies apparently did live through the holocaust, however, and the questions presented by this circumstance would intrigue the investigators for years."

Page 209: "Their nests, composed of loosely matted grass stems, usually are built in burrows 6-12 inches below the surface of the ground, but occasionally the tunnels extend to 18-24 inches below the surface, or nests are found immediately beneath boards, slabs of concrete, or protective rubble. ... In 1955 the rats of Engebi were living on a treeless plain ... they fed on the seeds of Lepturus, Thuarea, and Fimbristylis, and on the leaves of Triumfetta and Sida, all common grass plants."

In 1954, the rats that of Engebi surviving Mike were exposed to the 1.69 megaton Castle-Nectar test, which is discussed on page 212:

"After the Nectar detonation concentrations [of I-131] in the thyroid were at levels considered excessive ... within 9 weeks activity in the thyroid was so low that measurement was difficult. ... most of the radioactivity in muscle was due to the presence of cesium-137, and no strontium-89/90 was found in that tissue. ... In January, 1955, the bones of rats contained strontium 89/90 in amounts approximating the maximum permissible dose, but no bone tumors have been discovered and none was found in specimens collected later."

Page 297: "The survival of the rats in the face of repeated atomic bombardment had seemed in 1955 a circumstance approaching the phenomenal.  Even more so was the continued health of the colonies ... The case was important because it seemed to bear so directly on one of the broadest of the unanswered questions of the nuclear age, the effect on warm-blooded, vertebrate animals of continued exposure to low-level irradiation."

Noddy tern at Engebi Island, Eniwetok Atoll, 1965.

Above: the rapid fall in cesium-137 uptake by plants and animals with distance from the lip of the 1956 Redwing-Cactus nuclear surface burst crater in 1967 (twelve years later, in 1979 this particular crater was used as a convenient dump for contaminated soil and WWII munitions found during the Eniwetok Atoll cleap up campaign, and then it was simply sealed up with a concrete dome).

Vaporization myths

Nobody has ever been "vaporised" by thermal radiation from a nuclear explosion, e.g. in Hiroshima even at ground zero you're talking about 100 calories per square centimetre in the open.  Useful information: heat of vaporization of water = 2257 J/g = 540 calories/gram.  Density of water or skin (70% water) = 1 gram/cubic centimetre.

Therefore, 100 calories per square centimetre (ground zero Hiroshima) is only enough energy to vaporize a layer of water or skin 100/540 = 0.185 cm thick, or 1.85 mm thick.

In fact, even less will be vaporized because some heat is reflected by the skin, and some is absorbed by clothing.  If clothing ignites, it can be extinguished easily by rolling it out.  Remember, contrary to propaganda, thermally ignited clothing is easier to extinguish than petrol soaked clothing in peacetime car accident victims.  The 1946 U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey report documents the fact that clothing ignition could be beaten out.

The main danger in cities is not from thermal radiation or fires, because modern city buildings absorb almost all of the thermal and much of the nuclear radiation.  So the really widespread danger is flying glass and blast winds, which are dealt with by duck and cover on seeing the bright flash, which arrives prior to the blast wave.