Since when is Fukishima Daiichi considered to be a Drinking Water Reservoir?

There are many odd things in the reporting on Fukushima Daiichi. Let us just take the current news, like this gem in the Guardian, on the “Emergency” declared in Fukushima Daiichi.

The important bit is at the very end.

Tepco said on Monday that caesium levels at an observation post 53 metres from the sea had jumped in the past week. Readings for caesium-134 were almost 15 times higher at 310 becquerels a litre.

Caesium-137, with a half-life of 30 years, was also 15 times higher than it had been five days ago at 650 becquerels a litre. A much larger spike in radioactive caesium in July in a different well led to Tepco overturning months of denials and admitting that radioactive water had been leaking into the sea.

1000Bq per litre is five times the allowable limit  for drinking water in Japan. Now anybody please tell me, why is this an “emergency”? In the article Shinji Kinjo, head of a Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) taskforce, complains that Tepco’s “sense of crisis is weak”. And rightfully so!

Fukushima Daiichi is not – trust me on this – Fukushima Daiiichi is not considered to be a drinking water reservoir. And it never has been. Honestly. Even the most fervent antinuclear activist must cede this point.

So why should it bother you, that the water under a nuclear power plant that suffered major (though completely avoidable und unnecessary) damage after being hit by a tsunami has  5 times more Cesium activity than is allowed for drinking water? Especially why is this considered to be an emergency?

Sure, if this was a major reservoir providing drinking water for the population – I would agree. And I’m sure that “Tepco’s sense of crisis” would live up to it. But the “emergency” consists in this almost-fit-to-drink water entering the ocean where it would immediately be diluted by a colossally large amount of water that is so much more than 5 times the amount of water leaking from soil, that any talk of an “emergency” is what is technically called “batshit insane crazy talk”.

The Trolley Problem – When Ethics don’t matter

The Trolley Problem is somewhat famous among philosophers. A fat man stands on a bridge, below him, a trolley (that is, a tram or streetcar) is driving towards a group of people, typically about five. The supposed problem is now: Is it ethical to push the fat man from the bridge, into the way of the trolley to stop it and safe the people?

There is a true solution to the problem and it is perfectly simple. But there are lots and lots of false solutions proposed by philsophers that are convoluted, hard to understand and actually deeply meaningless the more you think about it. The idea behind such “solutions” is that you will not be able to disentangle the argument and the one who brought it forth will be perceived as the “winner” of the debate. It’s an intellectual pissing contest and little more. One such was a convoluted argument that boiled down to “you must not instrumentalize a human being”. Well then, go ahead I’d say to the philosopher, jump yourself.

What about the simple solution? Continue reading

Benjamin Franklin said it a quarter of a Millenium ago

“Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

The United States of America – wanted or not – are still the city on the hill. Everybody looks up (though more often down, these days) on the United States of America. There has never been a day, when so little temporary safety was purchased with such an enormous loss of the essential liberty of a Million people outside of war or fascism.

What will be the result of this insult of humanity we witnessed today? What will we say when a dictator locks down a city in pursuit of some sort of crime? What will we say when Russia locks down Novosibirsk or St. Petersburg? What will we say China locks down Harbin? What will we say, knowing that they can always point to Boston and say: But you did the same!

The enormity of this loss of liberty is impossible to grasp. Had there been a movie as little as two days ago, of a million people in lock-down to facilitate the hunt on a single terrorist, I would have said this is unrealistic. Not even the United States would do this. But it did happen. And not in a state of all-out fear either, but calm and orderly, as if giving up such basic rights as leaving your home was an everyday business.

An incredible day has ended, after which the United States will never look the same to me again. From this day on, the question I will ask will not be whether the United States is on its way to some kind of fascism or another, but how far it has progressed and if there is still a path left in another direction.

Meanwhile the suspect has been arrested. This doesn’t change a thing about this assessment. It is a terrible day for basic civil liberties. The suspect will not be notified, as required by law, of his right to a lawyer and his right to be silent. A “public safety exception” is cited to justify this breach of basic civil law.

The BBC says that the suspect was not found by police, but by a local resident who noticed blood on the tarp over the boat where he was hiding. This could only happen, of course, once the lock down was over. Had the lock down lasted until nightfall, he would not have been found.

You wouldn’t expect that to happen in Russia

I’m rather speechless. And as you may guess, I’m not talking about Russia, but the USA, specifically Boston. The whole city is in lock-down. All houses and homes are being searched by SWAT teams. There is a curfew and everyone on the street is treated as a criminal per se. A declaration of martial law would have been a milder measure.

A suspect is gunned down and shot dead on the spot – even if you feel you have to fire weapons, one shot is usually enough. Multiple hits indicate that there were orders to shoot to kill.

An arrested man is searched for weapons, stripped down naked and not even allowed to put his clothes back on, after it has been established that there were no weapons in those clothes. All that in a country prudish enough to have such phenomena as “Nipple Gate”.

The whole scene is horrific and it is hard to think of another place where such things might take place, never mind in a civilized country, but any country at all. There have been so many precedents of terrorist acts. Acts much worse than the Boston marathon bombings. NONE comes to mind that resulted in such blatant ignorance of basic civil liberty in pursuit of the perpetrators as this one.

It is so far out of proportion to what happened and to what has been deemed necessary in similar and much worse cases in the past, that words fail to describe it. If something similar happened in Russia or China, it would provoke immediate criticism from all over the world. What is for sure, is that the USA now is a failure as a modern civil society beyond all doubt – unfortunately it is above any consequential criticism by international authorities … and from all I can tell, it is immune to any criticism from its media as well, if that is being levelled at all. Any serious criticism of those actions by the established media would be a surprise.

What now, except for size, is the difference between the USA and a run-off-the-mill military dictatorship?

(Update: i want to point out that this was written before I heard about the connection to Chechnya. The reference to Russia in the headline is a pure coincidence.)

A classic Hansen – 1999

Famous climate scientist James Hansen informed us in 1999 about the state of the world climate. On the US he had something to say that is very strange indeed, by standards of today:

“The U.S. temperature increased by about 0.8°C between the 1880s and the 1930s, but it then fell by about 0.7°C between 1930 and the 1970s and regained only about 0.3°C of this between the 1970s and the 1990s.

The year 1998 was the warmest year of recent decades in the United States, but in general, U.S. temperatures have not recovered even to the level that existed in the 1930s. This contrasts with global temperatures, which have climbed far above the levels of the first half of this century.”

This is backed up with a graph (fig. 6) of the GISS US temperatures as published in 1999:


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Denialism and the Asch Conformity Experiments

This is another blog about comments made on the economist. Specifically one made in response to the travesty of the UK Met Office five-year-decadal-prediction I already wrote about, in which the new forecast fails to show any warming, whereas the old was a classic hockey stick graph. A fellow commentator told me: “As you can see from the graphs, the MET Office still expects a LOT of warming. Hardly reassuring.” (Emphasis not mine.)

Well no. I don’t see any warming on the graph and I can prove it beyond all doubt.

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