Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Challenging pro-nuclear nonsense in The Guardian

Letter to The Guardian ( unpublished):

Paul Mason, who you describe as a writer and broadcaster on social justice, makes a very cogent argument  (“Corbynism is now in crisis: the only way forward is to oppose Brexit,” 28 May; https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/27/corbynism-crisis-oppose-brexit-jeremy-corbyn-labour) for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn revising his political policies in the wake of the Euro-election results.
But in the middle of his sensible analysis, he gratuitously throws in the line Labour “needs to forget scraping Trident.”
Mason believes in progressive restructuring of the economy, and as he argued on BBC radio’s Any Questions? over last weekend, innovative forms of public ownership such as economic mutualism.
This will need significant targeted public investment of taxpayers’s money.
How does Mason think squandering over £200 billion of scarce investment capital on Trident, which brings illusiory security as well as sending the perverse message to North Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia that nuclear WMDs are necessary for national security, would be progressive investment?
And where is its social justice?

Tom Allan's report of his holiday inside the Chernobyl exclusion zone ("Nuclear reaction," Travel, The Guardian, 25 May) was both misleading and dangerous in its assertions.
He gives the impression that the radiation dangers are minimal: "less radiation risk than on a single transatlantic flight," according to his ornithologist Belarusian guide, Valery Yurko.

But the problem around Chernobyl is not average radiation exposure, but the millions of highly radioactive hot spots of radioactive particles spewed from inside the destroyed Chernobyl reactor core. The entire exclusion zone area  has suffered from serious forest fires in the 33 years since the catastrophe, re-suspending these hot particles into the atmosphere and spreading them around.

I would recommend Mr Allan re-read the chilling warning in the incisive article by Dr Kate Brown of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology seven weeks ago ("Chernobyl’s disastrous cover-up is a warning for the next nuclear age of radioactivity," 4 April; https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/04/chernobyl-nuclear-power-climate-change-health-radioactivity), based on her excellent  new academic study 'Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future.'

Mr Allan also inaccurately asserts "so far, the effect (of Chernobyl) radiation on the animal population has not been visible." I suggest he consult the extensive published academic research publications of Professor Tim Mousseau of the Department of Biological Sciences, at the University of South Carolina, and his international colleagues, published across some thirty years [ many of which are included in the references to a recent paper published in the journal Oecologia ('Ecosystems effects 25 years after Chernobyl: pollinators,fruit set and recruitment; http://cricket.biol.sc.edu/chernobyl/papers/moller-et-al-oecologia-2012.pdf),] where  he will find extensively set out the crippling effect of the radioactive contamination on both flora and fauna.

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