Saturday, March 19, 2011

MUST WATCH! BBC Horizon - Nuclear Nightmares

The BBC made a fantastic documentary called Nuclear Nightmares that first aired in 2006. I think that this is an awesome documentary and everyone needs to view it. The BBC wrote this about this program:


On 26 April 1986, reactor number four at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant blew up. Forty-eight hours later the entire area was evacuated. Over the following months there were stories of mass graves and dire warnings of thousands of deaths from radiation exposure.

Yet in a BBC Horizon report screened on Thursday, a number of scientists argue that 20 years after the accident there is no credible scientific evidence that any of these predictions are coming true.
This is a must-watch documentary.





1 comment:

Matt D. said...

When I have time later this week, I will try to through these videos up on my own blog with associated criticism.

What I think is useful to do when you watch a video like this is to look for numbers, names, and specific theories and then look them up.

First, the most questionable part of the video is at the very beginning. About 8 minutes into the first video, they talk about forced abortions for citizens of Pripyat, they then *imply* that up to 200,000 abortions took place.

I've never heard this before, so I investigated. Well, there may have been forced abortions in Ukraine, but I can't find but very scant and elliptical remarks about this. If you have something, I'd appreciate a link. But even assuming that all the women from Pripyat got an abortion, there were only 50,000 residents.

But note there is a very popular reference to 100,000 - 200,000 women having gotten an abortion across all of Western Europe as a result of Chernobyl fears. I kept looking for where this number came from and everyone kept citing this source:
http://jnm.snmjournals.org/cgi/reprint/28/6/933

But there, it cites an IAEA study, but gives no reference to what study that was. So I can't find it. My guess is they would have generated numbers like that using statistics. They'd have compared live births with ordinary years, then explained a decrease in live births as a result of women getting abortions.

If so, that's ironic. There are many, many statistical studies done that are intended to demonstrate large numbers of cancers as a result of Chernobyl. This is detailed in _Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment_. This would lead one to the idea that potentially 1 million people have died as a result of Chernobyl. But many of these studies are *rejected* by international authorities (IEAE for example), because they are carried about using statistics where it's not at all clear if there is a direct connection or not with the deaths. Of course, for the non-specialist going through this stuff is very rough going, but I will have a look at some of this so I can see what they are talking about.

In any event, when it's convenient to cite dubious statistics, the video doesn't hesitate. However, as far as the 1 million figure, they don't even approach it. They only discuss deaths directly attributed to Chernobyl and thyroid cancers. Note, I don't say they are necessarily wrong, I just say they don't present *any* of the opposing viewpoints. And there are a lot of them.

Even as far as the wildlife, here to, the person they interview is probably not the foremost authority on this. I would encourage you to check out this article:
http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/04/ff_chernobyl/5/

Again, I'm not saying who is right here or who is wrong, I'm just saying, this video is a very good presentation of what the authorities at the IAEA want you to believe. If you have penchant for just believing authorities then no need to dig deeper. Personally, I think there is a lot of room for skepticism here.