Room No. 15
REGARDING THE FALLIBILITY ARGUMENT
(C-I) (C-III) (C-V)
EXTRACT FROM THE DISCUSSION AND PRESENTATION
To set this off, I wrote down a few thoughts on the ‘fallibility argument’. I mean, that there is the hurtle toward a concluding scenario never envisaged at the outset, because it is not possible so to do. Yet still, the blind charge, the rush, call it what you like. I propose we see where this takes us.
(I) To discuss the catastophic unreality of nuclear conflict (certainty / likely dichotomy).
(II) To discuss the biological and environmental / ecological effects of nuclear testing (and concomitant pollution). **
** The nuclear tests conducted during the second half of the twentieth century have a predominant geopolitical characteristic (part of the nuclear programs of the certain powers, a means for the nuclear states to reassert their position on the global geopolitical stage), but with extremely serious ecological and social consequences. From the ecological point of view, at this stage, there are a few critically contaminated test sites both on land (the Nevada Test Site, Semipalatinsk) and in the marine environment (especially the Bikini, Enewetak, Moruroa, Fangataufa atolls, and Novaya Zemlya marine areas). 137Cs, 90Sr, 239–240Pu, 241Am, and 131I – stand out among the radioactive isotopes released during nuclear tests, in terms of having caused a major impact on the environment and irradiation of the human body; these isotopes are predominantly found in most of the nuclear test sites worldwide. Since approximately two thirds of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, a significant share of these radionuclides has been transferred into the marine environment, as in the cases of radionuclides 137Cs and 90Sr, with very negative consequences being primarily related to the bio-accumulation through food chain cycles.
EXTRACT FROM THE DISCUSSION
At the heart of our troubled quality flies a very heavy conviction; that something as yet indefinable will prevail – though we know little of what it really is. We know that it (something) will prevail, because it is immeasurably greater than the transient and the stupid. Or is it?
We are assuming a massive imposition if you foresee madmen and lying maniacs coming to their senses. But then, we keep reminding ourselves of what autonomy means – not to judge from one perspective, then I ask myself; does hatred have any perspective at all, in the sense that it is an argument, a motivation to attain an end? How can killing people in the worst of all ways attain any end, other than one of murder perpetrated by the insane? This is not the only way of looking at it (and some argue not the correct one) but it encompasses fallibility, the mass surge toward the unknown condition, irrespective.
And yes we have asked the question before, so will ask it again; Is there a dilemma when more than one, contradictory, ethical principle is held as true at the same time? Is a dilemma accepted as being the case? If not (there is no dilemma) then for who, for what reason and as a consequence; what strategies are brought into play?
I think that we touched upon this when we spoke of sympathetic groups within nations who would launch terrorist attacks. We were concerned, if you recall, that the facility to engage nuclear, biological or chemical means of attack is available. It’s pertinent that we do consider whether the most acute harbingers of hatred really can be neutralized sufficiently, such that they cease to be a threat.
The global economy argument is interesting. Regimes or clusters of hatred are dependent economically, they can’t exist in enforced isolation. Intelligence can aid in disabling these clusters financially. It can only go so far though in disabling the countries who support them. I’m trying to make simple what isn’t in the least, namely because of those, ignoring, ambivalent who see fit to engage in trade.
We are concerned that the religious terrorists will get their hands on something big, let loose a catastrophe that cannot ever be put right. If that happens, it will be too late. There has to be a very radical swipe. I agree, you can’t just sit and wait for something like that to happen. Conventional intelligence isn’t successful all of the time, as you can see
You can’t just tell somebody something, for want of a better way of putting it. We’ve been doing that for ages. It’s what we tell them, directly or indirectly that makes the extremists hate us. They become martyrs for what they do. I’m thinking of the pain and damage they have caused and will continue so to do.
These are the most disturbing thoughts. I began on the scenario of calculated preparations being made for the use of chemical agents upon populations, in the detailed knowing how victims would bleed to death while their lungs refused to breath the stinking and acrid gas that had burned and blinded them first. Children couldn’t cry out nor weep, nor be told why a ‘super-power,’ why a ‘rogue nation,’ why ‘rich, maniacal freaks and their cronies’ had chosen to murder them in such an inconceivably malevolent way, why murdering them at all was malevolent. While these children choked in their own blood-vomit and with them, their mother’s dreams ended, other children elsewhere were attending religious sanctuaries and being told that ‘pride of their country, their action, was sanctioned by God’. That ‘whatever they did was justifiable’. There is no light strong enough to hide that shadow.
I am pondering; wars are planned by men. Nuclear, biological and chemical weapons are designed and incorporated into male controlled arsenals, by men. Men dropped the atomic bomb on sleeping women and children in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and were given orders so to do by men. All the world’s tyrants were men. All that is ugly and abhorrent in the world is man’s doing. Men project themselves into the universe and cling to a male God, who is their image. What a pathetic scenario.
The history connected to this era is rife with limited ambitions, all be these historical, steeped in the desire to humiliate, enslave and kill. It’s far more than that now, but even if it was the same, we’d still have to act. But it’s the nature of the acting which is altogether novel and contains the catastrophic unreality of nuclear conflict.
I touched on the conclusion that humanity has not formulated a picture of anything that is real, other than what excites its senses and moves on from there toward the ridiculous. Humanity does not understand its own makeup and holds as sacrosanct a view of universal intention that does not even allude to a minutiae of what the truth simply has to constitute. Yes, you might be thinking that humanity has been misleading itself. But has there ever been the necessity to introduce irreconcilable and unmitigated refutation and its concomitant upheaval?
This, or those ‘person or persons’ – they are not interested in how our poetry exalts, nor how the landscape inspires, nor the fact that our government grants freedom and liberty to all, including they, such that indignity cannot be experienced nor even felt during the days of life. The heinous effects of what they see as being acts of divine retribution inspire them and continue so to do while they celebrate.
I would say it’s no use arguing for the ethical implications of taking away part of someone’s mind when you see the effects of such a terrorist bomb.
Secret establishments and what they are intended to display? Meaning, what the dire effects of hatred and intolerance can cause? It is little wonder only the secret few are acquainted with these effects in the fullness of what they are. What a world.
What is, is the intention to make catastrophe, through fallibility heralding into its midst through absolute necessity. This is what humanity might justifiably call its absolute worst nightmare scenario. This nation cannot bear the brunt of that nightmare, nor a minute fraction thereof.
You are not merely saying to us that there are threats that, if they were to succeed, would deliver the United Kingdom into a death zone, and forever to be so. You are pointing us toward the ‘who’ that lives in the equation and the ‘why’. I’m not sure yet where we stand with respect to doing something about ‘them’ other than in ways already being applied, but what you’ve oriented toward, I suspect, hints at something that attacks the underlying reasoning, the support, that fuels the desire to harm.
But how can you fragment and destroy hatred? What do we have at our disposal for this? It seems like a very novel, futuristic mind-game, where instead of bullets, poisonings and so on, we’re firing ideology. What do you think?
I don’t see providing examples of a different way of life as being the basis of an attack on hostile elements. We’re doing this all of the time, but I do think it’s interesting to see how many of the devout and probably likely to be seduced into jihad are also seduced by pornography while they are here, night clubs and alcohol too.
That’s just human nature, it doesn’t mean to say that those who are living in the United Kingdom or are on some kind of visa while here are not also controlled by a religious ideology of intolerance, while at the same time doing the things you say. I think it’s a deeper set of values you’re talking about and it’s these that that need knocking for six.
It is impossible for the human mind to leap beyond its capacity to reason and thus, form an idea of what to look for. The human mind is limited to what the human mind can make. If you asked the most supposedly brilliant mind to offer an explanation of what could exist beyond research, all he or she could do would be answer from a standpoint that is of human discourse or indeed, nonsense. This is to be expected. So what are we alluding to? I want to begin by stating very briefly and not intending to recite a list of chronological events, that it was the provocation caused by the development and testing and later deployment of the atomic bomb that changed the status of the United Kingdom in respect of our place in the world, likewise was the case with other nations though their concern to us is qualitatively different. Hitherto, the bomb, humanity had been left alone to live temporarily in the subjectivity that time and place ensured. During the course of the Manhattan Project and the research that led to the test of the bomb, humanity ceased to be alive in the way they might well construe themselves to be. Yes, there are many theories, many speculations, with respect to the make-up of man’s ‘house,’ and how it should be, but these speculations are invariably made by men and are designed to position themselves in control of that small part of the world in which they construe. Such theorizing and speculation is to be expected because as I said, humanity cannot step beyond itself and it is this very limited, fallibility ridden construing that heralded the change in the first place, I refer to the bomb but not only so, because as you know well, there are other threats to our continuation, equally terrifying.
When I asked you what would their ‘sacrifice’ mean, that is, their nation’s destruction in the arena of a nuclear war, I was, but not wholly, testing you for emotion. Such an inconceivably awful event will never occur, but it won’t be because of a missile shield nor anything of that nature. I want you to feel strongly because your conviction to neutrality is very important. I say again, your conviction to neutrality is important. The work we are engaged upon is not like any other and almost all of humanity would accuse us of *********. As I said, their arguments would cease to have existed in the eventuality that humanity is galloping toward and at an ever increasing pace. Our remit is of a higher order intention. Yes, this is the case. We can explain this more. qIn considering human dignity, what does this mean in the preparation for simultaneous use of nuclear weapons, knowing full well that so doing is a certain death warrant for all concerned? It’s what we were talking about, fallibility.
I propose that we continue by examining the notion of human dignity. I want us to think deeply about what it means in the situation where continues the preparation to slaughter the entire living population of the planet and the ecosystems, forever. Where does this lead us? Think about this and after the break we can discuss your responses as a group.
EXAMPLE : DF41 missiles
China unveils world’s longest-range nuclear weapon capable of hitting anywhere on planet earth
The People’s Republic of China has revealed plans for its new inter-continental missile, the world’s longest-range weapon, capable of hitting London in 16 minutes and New York within 20 minutes.
The People’s Republic of China has DF41 missiles, actually which resembles the one above
Professor He Qisong, a defence policy specialist at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, informed the South China Morning Post (recently): “No one questions the longest range of the DF-41 is near 15,000km.
The missile is also believed to have a staggering operational speed of more than 30,000km/hr, meaning that it could hit anywhere on the planet within a matter of minutes.
The DF-41 is capable of carrying a nuclear payload – TEN independently targetable city-levelling nukes.
And Richard Fisher, who is an expert on Asia-Pacific military affairs, said (recently) that a typical Chinese Second Artillery Corps might have 12 missile launchers capable of launching two DF-41’s each.
A single SAC unit thus has the capability to target the United States with an incredible 120-240 nuclear warheads. Thus the United States would cease to exist.
The DF-41 has gone through extensive testing with at least five trials since 2014.
China’s latest addition to its arsenal helps transform its military from a low-tech, land-based operation to the ultra- modern, state of the art fighting force, more than capable of competing with any and all global superpowers – namely Russia and the USA.
(C-I) It is pertinent to briefly note in the context of human dignity which I mentioned, or rather, it is better to question the time wherein dignity would be applicable. The reason I say this, though it has little impact due to worn out interest, other stuff is more laden with fascination, because fascination is possible to inspire in a commerce and gratification hungry society – that, and the agenda-laden mass-communication which swoons upon all with its fantasy.
To question whether human dignity would be an applicable concept during a nuclear exchange is to state categorically that it would NOT, because, and any argument to the contrary coming from those who have none to little knowledge of the weapons but much by way of aplomb for reasons known to them, is false – simply put; the extent of destructive capacity in the nuclear arsenals alone (not counting biological and chemical weapons) is beyond sufficient not merely to guarantee the demise of all populations of life, but to create a situation where it had never existed at all. There are hypothetical arguments to the contrary regarding bacterial organisms in varying depths of the oceans. But the fact is, that the declared number of warheads far exceeds by eons any conceivable/convoluted/ridiculous idea that somehow there will be survivors, a clean up and a rebuilding. The latter is constitutive of the high susceptibility of modern society to engage in the non-reality, to hold within this fantasy-frame certain pictures of fantasy heroes, to subscribe to the notion of war being an assertion of nation power, a power fed into the fantasy-frame by those with a vested interest in so doing, to follow instinct and fight.
To most, there is an idea of war being akin to a Hollywood film, and where personalities override the conflict, a romantic (pathetic) thread inherent. Any scholar of WWI and WWII will state categorically that this (Hollywood) notion is utter preposterous rubbish and leads nowhere other than the box office. The reality is that no future war involving China, Russia and NATO/US would resemble the ideas of war that most are led to carry. A ‘conventional’ engagement would last as long as it took to annihilate tens, if not hundreds of thousands of troops and their weapons, which is almost immediate – such is the ability of current ‘conventional arsenals of weapons’ held by all three military super-powers. These weapons are intensely destructive and have no parallels to present conflicts where military are engaging. The escalation is timed not to follow a conventional engagement, but to run parallel, and be unlimited. If you consider there are 3000 nuclear bombs which could be launched from Russia to hit the US, note that this is not a declared number either, and does not include China’s arsenal which is growing more massive and would be included – each weapon contains by current standards ten warheads, each has a destructive capacity of 100x the Hiroshima bomb. Basically and simply it is the ensuring that enemies will NOT survive, because the players know they will not and therefore, the ensuring of complete destruction of others is absolutely paramount. There is NO argument to the contrary.
The Nevada Test Site. Nevada. USA
Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site. Kazakhstan
The Environmental Consequences of Nuclear Weapons Tests
The nuclear era has brought the onset of nuclear weapons testing, this, responsible for the radioactive contamination of a large number of sites worldwide.
Here, just to highlight the impact of radioactive pollution on the atmospheric, aquatic, and underground environments. Special attention is given to the concentration of the major radioactive isotopes released, ie. 14C, 137Cs, and 90Sr, – these generally being stored in the atmosphere and marine environment.
Also to trace the spatial delimitation of the most heavily contaminated sites worldwide, and to note the human exposure which has caused a significantly increased incidence of thyroidal cancer locally and regionally. The United States is one of the important examples of assessing the correlation between the increase in the thyroid cancer incidence rate and the continental-scale radioactive contamination released in large amounts during the nuclear tests carried out in the main test site, Nevada.
The end of World War II brought with it the ‘atomic age’, when a number of states launched the nuclear arms race. Initially, in the synergistic context of Cold War geopolitics and the lack of effective international disarmament policies, countries like the USA, the USSR, the United Kingdom, France, and China became nuclear powers during 1945–1964. During this period, a large number of nuclear tests were conducted in all global environments (atmosphere, underground, and underwater).
From 1945 and 1963, the USA and the USSR conducted a very large number of nuclear tests in the atmosphere, the most representative examples being the first nuclear explosions of the hydrogen bomb conducted in 1954 by the USA, in the Marshall Islands, on the Bikini atoll and in 1961, by the USSR, in the Novaia Zemlia archipelago, north of the Ural mountains The severe environmental damage caused by these nuclear tests, the most powerful ever to be conducted in the atmosphere, as well as the general context of global nuclear weapons tests, haS created the premises of the first instance of large-scale international cooperation to eliminate nuclear weapons testing.
1963 brought into force of the Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT), a treaty stipulating a ban on nuclear weapons tests in all global environments, except for the underground. Although it was not signed by two key states; France and China, as these countries continued their nuclear weapons tests in the atmosphere. The treaty had a real impact in limiting radioactive isotopes in the atmosphere in the two hemispheres from 1963 onwards.
The entry of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968, banning nuclear arming of all states of the world, with the exception of the five existing nuclear powers, was another key moment in the efforts to end the nuclear arms race and, indirectly, nuclear weapons testing. Although the provisions of the treaty were to be implemented with the help of the IAEA, geopolitical experiences of the last four decades have indicated that, outside the scope of the NPT, a different category of nuclear states has emerged, these, including India, South Africa, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel, with others conducting nuclear weapons tests of their own.
In 1996, a new phase in stopping all types of nuclear tests began, with the United Nations adoption of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. However, the large number of nuclear weapons tests carried out in the atmosphere and underground during 1945–2013 (the last nuclear tests were performed by North Korea and the USA), is responsible for the current environmental contamination with radioactive waste resulting in ecologically and socially destroyed sites, due to very high levels of radioactivity.
One has to analyse the environmental impacts generated by nuclear weapons tests, mainly the matter of atmospheric and oceanic environmental contamination both in global and regional contexts, and matters concerning human exposure to radioactive pollution.
Geopolitical Context and Particularities of Nuclear Weapons Tests
The alarming nuclear arms race that the five nuclear powers launched in the second half of the twentieth century was the result of the special status they enjoyed during the international nuclear disarmament policies, of which the most representative example is the NPT.
These countries are part of the nuclear weapon states category, allowed to own nuclear weapons, as stipulated by the NPT from 1968. The second category, the nuclear-armed states, is represented by India, South Africa, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel; the nuclear states armed between 1968 and 2006 currently considered outside the NPT. The exception is South Africa, the country that disarmed itself subsequent to 1990 in the context of internal political changes. The reasons which led to the proliferation of nuclear weapons are mainly of geopolitical nature; international prestige, geostrategic regional consolidation, and regional/global power status. Therefore, testing nuclear weapons is one of the main ways of asserting nuclear power status, as well as the place held by these states in the hierarchy of nuclear geopolitics.
According to the data provided by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute platform, 2053 nuclear tests were conducted worldwide during 1945 – 2006. The majority (85 %) were conducted by the USA and the USSR, during 1945–1992, while 14.5 % (300 tests) were conducted by the United Kingdom, France, and China, and less than 1 % by India, Pakistan, and North Korea.
Nuclear tests were conducted in all environments, namely in the atmosphere, underground, and underwater. Approximately 25 % (530 tests) were conducted in the atmosphere (or in a few cases under water) and 75 % in the underground (1517 tests), which are performed in almost 100 % of cases by the nuclear weapon states, and only in 0.3 % of cases by India, Pakistan, and North Korea/DPRK. The USA and the USSR/Russia are responsible for 82 % of all the tests conducted in the atmosphere during 1945–1963, and for 86 % of those performed in the underground during 1951–1992.
Regarding the energy released during nuclear explosions, expressed in mega-tonnes (Mt) of TNT equivalent, two different processes are involved; fission (of 235U and 239Pu isotopes in a chain reaction) and; fusion (of the hydrogen isotopes, deuterium and tritium, in a thermonuclear process). In terms of radioactivity, the fission process produces a whole range of radionuclides, while the fusion process generally only produces tritium (3H). However, the fusion process can also generate other radioactive materials (responsible for large amounts of radioactive debris), especially because of the inherent fission process of certain stages of thermonuclear reactions.
From 1951 and 1992, nuclear tests totalled an explosive yield of approx. 530 Mt, of which 83 % (440 Mt) were due to the atmospheric nuclear tests carried out between 1951 and 1980, and 17 % (90 Mt) to the underground nuclear tests carried out between 1962 and 1992. Of the 440 Mt resulting from atmospheric tests, 57 % (251 Mt) were due to the fusion yield and 43 % (189 Mt) to the fission yield. With regard to the five major nuclear powers, the Soviet Union is responsible for the production of 285 Mt (54 % of the total of 530 Mt), followed by the USA (200 Mt), China (22 Mt), France (13 Mt), and the United Kingdom (10 Mt).
The Atmosphere and Marine Environment – Radioactive Poluution
About 90 % of all nuclear tests were conducted in the northern hemisphere, mostly by the USA, the USSR/Russia, and China, and only 10 % (about 208 tests) in the southern hemisphere, by countries such as France and the United Kingdom. The northern hemisphere is therefore more contaminated than the southern hemisphere due to the presence of large quantities of radioactive isotopes (especially 14C, 137Cs, and 90Sr) released into the atmosphere during nuclear weapons tests. – Higher radioactivity of the northern hemisphere is also due to other factors, such as nuclear power-plant accidents. The most representative examples are the accidents at Chernobyl (1986) and Fukushima Daiichi (2011) which resulted in the release of large amounts of radionuclides into the atmosphere, of which the most important are 137Cs and 131I.
Atmospheric nuclear weapons testing involves the release of considerable amounts of radioactive materials directly into the environment and causes the largest collective dose from man-made sources of radiation. qAccording to the UNSCEAR 1993 report, following atmospheric nuclear testing, the main contributor to the total effective dose commitment to the world’s population is 14C, contribution of which is 70 % over the course of thousands of years (out of the total dose of 3700 μSv, radionuclide 14C accounts for 2580 μSv). Considerable percentages are also found in the cases of radionuclides, 137Cs (13 %) and 90Sr (3 %), including seven other radionuclides with effective dose percentage values ranging from 1.1 to 2.4 %. It is estimated that, apart from radionuclide 14C, most of the other radionuclides will have delivered almost their entire dose over the next two centuries.
When considering only 10 % of the 14C dose commitment, which corresponds to the truncated effective dose commitment in the year 2200 (by which time most of the other radionuclides will have delivered almost their entire dose), the 14C only contributes 19 % of the truncated effective dose commitment to the world’s population. In this case, 137Cs has the highest contribution to the truncated effective dose commitment (35 %), followed by radionuclide 90Sr (8.1 %). This comparative situation is necessary because the 14C radionuclide has a much greater half-life compared with most other radionuclides (approx. 70 % of the collective effective dose commitment will have been delivered in 10 000 years, for a projected future stabilized world population of 1010 people).
The radionuclide 14C is created by nitrogen (14N) naturally present in the atmosphere -capturing the neutrons released in excess during nuclear tests. Once formed, it is rapidly oxidized to 14CO and then to 14CO2, and it is then transferred to the global carbon reservoirs (the atmosphere, the ocean, and the terrestrial biosphere), wherein it is extremely difficult to remove, due to its extremely long half-life (5730 years).
In terms of the temporal evolution of mean annual 14C concentration in the atmosphere, specialized measurements have shown that the values peaked in 1964, immediately after the entry into force of the LTBT. This situation is valid especially in the northern hemisphere (according to the measurements taken at Vermunt Station, Austria), because in the case of the southern hemisphere, there is a gap of at least 1 year as far as the maximal recorded values are concerned (Wellington Station, New Zealand). The differences between the two stations, representative for the two hemispheres, can be explained by the time required by the isotope 14C to propagate from the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere. Therefore, in the case of the northern hemisphere, a peak concentration of 835 ‰ can be noticed in 1964, which then dropped steadily to a value of 226 ‰ by 1983. The southern hemisphere values recorded a peak of 642 ‰ in 1965 and a steady decline until 1993, the year for which the latest data are available (133 ‰).
The thermonuclear tests conducted during 1950 to1960 almost doubled the concentration of isotope 14C in the atmosphere, as a result of excessive injection of radioactive material into the stratosphere. Thus, the premises were created for an accelerated transfer of that isotope to the geospheres (atmosphere > ocean > biosphere), resulting in the drop of 14C concentrations in the atmosphere, beginning 1964 through to the present time). qThe transfer of the radionuclide 14C to the marine environment is possible through the exchange of gases in the ocean – atmosphere interference space. One of the methods used in reconstructing its fluctuations in the ocean consists in measuring its concentration in aquatic organisms, reservoirs that store 14C
Consequent to detailed investigations, the last five decades, has shown a continuous transfer of the radionuclide 14C from the atmosphere into the ocean (as far as the North Atlantic is concerned), but there are differences in terms of its assimilation by the marine environment. This means that an amplitude fluctuation of maximum – minimum values exists, which was significantly attenuated and also much delayed compared with the concentration values in the atmosphere (peaks during 1964–1965 followed by a constant decline up to the present time, compared with the values from the marine environment, peaking in 1974 followed by a steady decline up to the year of the latest available data, i.e., 1996). This situation is primarily due to the much larger marine carbon – storage reservoirs, compared with the atmospheric-storage reservoirs, as well as with regional hydrographical and biogeochemical features.
Although the terrestrial biosphere has played an important role in the assimilation of the radionuclide 14C from the atmosphere through the process of photosynthesis, the ocean was the largest storage reservoir of this radionuclide. Therefore, in terms of environmental effects, the marine environment has played an essential role in limiting these effects by means of its great assimilation capacity, although there are also some negative aspects concerning the radionuclide accumulation in the aquatic organisms. Otherwise, there would have been a major risk that the radionuclide 14C be assimilated in enormous quantities in the biosphere (especially by forest ecosystems), and subsequently assimilated in the food chain (including in the human body).
Another radionuclide of paramount importance in residual global contamination from atmospheric nuclear testing is 137Cs, with a 30-year half-life. It was released in large quantities during atmospheric testing, and continues to be a major source of anthropogenic radioactivity. Because more than 70 % of the Earth’s surface is water-covered, the largest amounts of 137Cs radioactive debris are accumulated in oceans and seas. At present, it is estimated that radionuclide 137Cs is the main source of anthropogenic marine radioactivity, along with other important radionuclides (mainly 90Sr, 239–240Pu, 241Am, 3H, and 14C), released in large quantities during nuclear tests. At the same time, at a planetary scale, global and local fallout events account for 90 % of the total 137Cs isotope radioactivity, the remaining 10 % being linked to reprocessing plants (7 %) and the Chernobyl accident (3 %).
Although global fallout is considered to be the main source of 137Cs radioactivity in the marine environment (in 2000, most marine regions had 137Cs radionuclide concentrations ranging from 1 to 10 Bq/m3), it should be noted that the highest mean 137Cs seawater concentration values were recorded in the North-eastern Atlantic Ocean (the Irish and North Seas), Barents Sea, Baltic Sea, and Black Sea (mean concentrations exceeded the 10 Bq/m3 threshold in 2000), these marine regions’ radioactivity also resulting from the converging outcomes of additional sources. The highest average concentration of 137Cs worldwide was found in the Baltic Sea, namely about 100 Bq/m3. Although in these instances, nuclear tests had a significant radioactivity contribution (markedly in the Barents Sea, where the high 137Cs concentrations are due to the radioactive debris resulting from the Novaya Zemlya test site’s activity), the main radioactivity sources are the Sellafield and La Hague reprocessing plants for the Northeastern Atlantic, and the Chernobyl accident for the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea. However, decreases in 137Cs concentrations have been noticed lately in numerous marine regions worldwide. For instance, in the Barents Sea, surface water mean concentrations declined from a peak of almost 40 Bq/m3 in 1979 to about 10 Bq/m3 in 2000. This change can be attributed not only to significant decreases in local fallout but also to the diminishment in 137Cs discharge from the UK Sellafield reprocessing plant.
An important aspect of this radionuclide is related to marine biota accumulation and the subsequent transfer to human body through food chain cycles. However, considering this type of transfer exclusively, the radiological impact on the global population is negligible, because, in 2000, the average annual effective dose was 3 μSv (for a hypothetical group living in the Northeastern Atlantic coast region with an average consumption of 100 kg of fish and 10 kg of shellfish per year), which is considerably lower than the accepted value for the public of 1 mSv.
90Sr (28.8-year half-life) is a particularly noteworthy radionuclide as well, released in large quantities in the terrestrial and marine environments during atmospheric nuclear tests. It was found that 90 % of the total deposition of 90Sr and 137Cs occurs as wet deposition during rainfall. In this respect, there are common traits with nuclear accidents like the one at Chernobyl, which involved the atmosphere-to-ground level transfer of radionuclide 90Sr at a rate of about 96 % as wet deposition. As in the case of radionuclide, 137Cs, two of the most important environmental consequences of this radionuclide’s transfer in the terrestrial environment are the soil deposition and soil-to-plant transfer, which were conditioned during nuclear testing from one region to another by climatic factors, soil physicochemical properties, and plant genetic peculiarities. Subsequently, the transfer to the human body through food chain cycles was the main threat to the local population’s health.
Spatial Variability of Nuclear Tests – Critical Issues Regarding Contamination According to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, the USA has conducted the largest number of nuclear weapons tests, most of them conducted especially on the North American area. The Nevada desert is the major region where 44 % of all the nuclear tests worldwide were conducted. The environmental consequences are related to atmospheric contamination with radioactive isotopes (especially 14C and 137Cs) following the atmospheric nuclear tests conducted during 1951–1963. Other negative effects reported were related to atmospheric contamination with the radionuclides, 131I and 133I, which were later transferred to the biosphere mainly through rainfalls. The radionuclide 131I was one of the main causes of increase thyroid cancer occurrence in the USA, as it was released in large quantities mainly during atmospheric nuclear tests (especially during 1951–1958) qCurrently, in the Nevada Test Site region, there is a high risk of groundwater contamination with several radioactive isotopes. Among the most important isotopes, there are the 239–240Pu isotopes, because it was observed that they can be involved in groundwater’s hydrodynamic processes (with the risk of reaching the surface). Another problem of underground tests is related to accidental atmospheric contamination with certain radioactive isotopes, as a result of venting. It is estimated that out of the total number of approx. 800 underground tests performed in the Nevada Test Site, considerable quantities of radionuclide 131I were released into the atmosphere through venting in at least the 32 known cases of underground tests.
The USSR/Russia is responsible for conducting 35 % (715 tests) of the total number of nuclear tests worldwide, 65 % of them being conducted in the Semipalatinsk region of Kazakhstan. Specialized studies have shown that, currently the Semipalatinsk region is very heavily contaminated with radioactive isotopes, such as 90Sr, 137Cs, 239–240Pu, and 241Am, the radionuclides present especially in the soil and the vegetation. It was also found that the local water bodies feature high concentrations of radioactive uranium isotopes (234,235,238U), well above the maximum value of 15 μg/L allowed by the World Health Organization.
Currently, the former Soviet region of Semipalatinsk (Semey) is the most heavily contaminated among the Soviet nuclear test sites. While the most critically contaminated areas were found to be Ground Zero (the central-northern area of Semipalatinsk) and Lake Balapan (south-eastern central part), significant levels of radioactivity are also recorded in Tel’kem and Sary-Uzan areas. Although there are no permanent human settlements in Ground Zero and Balapan, it is estimated that the annual effective dose for the people who visit these areas daily is of 10 mSv (compared, for example with the worldwide individual average annual dose of 2.4 mSv from all natural sources), and that, in case at some point permanent settlements be established there, the annual exposure will be of approx. 140 mSv.
Also, following detailed investigations, it is found that radioactive pollution is not only due to Soviet nuclear tests, but also to the nuclear tests conducted by China in the Tarim Basin. Apparently, part of the radioactive dust in the southern part of the Semipalatinsk region, accumulated during 1964 – 1981, is the result of the nuclear weapons tests conducted by China at Lop Nur. Thus, the additional quantities of radioactive isotopes, such as 137Cs, 106,103Ru, 141,144Ce and 95Zr, from the China – Kazakhstan border area, are responsible for the increase in the radioactive contamination of the environment and also for the increased incidence of cancers in the local population.
Another site of major importance is Novaya Zemlya, where nearly 20 % of all the Soviet Union’s nuclear testing was carried out (130 nuclear tests). As nearly 70 % of all tests were atmospheric, substantial amounts of nuclear debris reached the stratosphere (especially in 1961 and 1962), thus entering a global-scale dispersion process. Locally, 137Cs and 239–240Pu radionuclides were found to be the main sources of contamination, mainly in marine waters. In terms of mega-tonnes, Novaya Zemlya is the site where the most powerful nuclear test ever performed took place, the Tsar test on 30 10 1961 (a total of 50 Mt, of which 1.5 Mt was from fission yield and 48.5 Mt from fusion yield).
Nuclear tests with serious contamination effects were also conducted in Eastern Asia, Australia, and the North Pacific. Lop Nur, in western China, stands out among the most heavily contaminated sites, where the 23 nuclear tests conducted during 1964–1980 have generated a number of radioactive isotopes that have contaminated the biggest part of the province of Xianjiang, including eastern Kazakhstan.Currently, it is estimated that due to the prolonged nuclear tests, cancer incidence in the province is approx. 30–35 % higher than the average rate across China.
With India and Pakistan, it can be concluded that there are no significant instances of environmental contamination due to the very low number of nuclear tests. However, the United Kingdom is responsible for the radioactive pollution of vast areas of the Australian continent, as a result of the 12 atmospheric nuclear tests (especially resulting in the dispersal of 239Pu) conducted at Maralinga, Emu Field, and Montebello.
One of the biggest environmental disasters from the nuclear tests period was caused by the USA in the North Pacific, this being the case of radioactive contamination in the wake of the Castle Bravo nuclear test on the Bikini atoll, in 1954. Pollution of marine ecosystems in the region, and particularly the impact on the local population in terms of the drastic increase of thyroid cancer incidence as a result of the population’s exposure to extremely high doses of radiation, were the negative consequences of the most serious episode of radioactive contamination in the history of nuclear weapons testing. The values of absorbed radiation dose recorded were as high as 6 Gy (in the case of Japanese fishing vessel. Lucky Dragon, close to the contaminated area, with 23 people on board), in comparison, for example, with the 1 mGy value of the average individual effective dose of radiation due to natural radioactive materials in the Earth’s crust and cosmic radiations. However, the dose rate of ionizing radiation due to natural sources varies considerably in the global context, one example being the Earth’s crust, which, in particular situations, may feature high levels of radioactive material, depending on the rock lithology.
Regarding the overall situation, the 23 atmospheric nuclear tests conducted by the USA in this Pacific region have led to the contamination of soil and marine ecosystems, particularly with radionuclides such as 137Cs (found in marine water, lagoon sediment, and fish), 90Sr (coral soils), and 239,240Pu and 241Am (both being found mainly in coral sediments). Regarding human exposure, it is expected that, for a hypothetical group living on the Bikini Island and consuming only locally produced food, the annual effective dose will be of approx. 15 mSv (mainly from 137Cs) or 17.4 mSv, if the average annual effective dose due to all natural sources of radiation is included. qOther cases of intense radioactive pollution of marine ecosystems is represented by the French nuclear tests carried out during 1966 – 1996 in French Polynesia, more specifically on the Moruroa and Fangataufa atolls, in the south-eastern part of the Tuamotu-Gambier archipelago. France conducted 179 nuclear tests on the Moruroa atoll alone, 42 of them in the atmosphere and 137 in the underground – this site the third in the world in terms of the most number of nuclear weapons tests, after the Nevada Test Site, and Semipalatinsk. In Fangataufa, the number of nuclear tests was much lower (14 tests: 4 in the atmosphere and 10 in underground), but the carrying out of the biggest French thermonuclear test in 1968 (the Canopus test) caused a very serious radioactive contamination, especially in the marine environment. According to specialized research, in the case of the release of radionuclides in marine ecosystems, the negative effects consist most in the accumulation of radionuclides in the biota and later in the food chain.
Currently, radioactive pollution of the two atolls is mainly due to radionuclides 238,239,240Pu released in large quantities and, to a lesser extent, to radionuclides 3H, 90Sr 137Cs, 241Am and 125Sb. While the highest concentrations of radioactive 239,240Pu isotopes are found in atoll lagoon sediments, in terms of human exposure, plutonium-related radiation effects are negligible, given the low rate of transfer to people through feasible pathways. Although the atolls were also exposed to sizeable amounts of 137Cs, with peaks in the Kilo-Empereur area of the Fangataufa atoll, an estimated annual effective dose for a hypothetical group living in this area would be of only 0.25 mSv, significantly lower than the annual effective dose of 2.4 mSv, resulting from all natural sources. qHowever, the increased incidence of thyroid cancer in the local population (in the Tuamotu-Gambier archipelago, the Austral, Societe and Marquises islands) due to internal irradiation, mainly with radio-iodines present in food and water, is an important negative consequence of the nuclear tests conducted by France in the Pacific region. qFrench nuclear tests carried out in Algeria from 1960 to 1966 on two major sites, Reggane (four atmospheric tests performed between 1960 and 1961) and Ekker (13 atmospheric tests conducted from 1961 to 1966), led to a significant environmental contamination in North Africa, particularly high in desert sand, mainly due to the release of 239–240Pu, 137Cs, and si 90Sr radionuclides. Therefore, considering the geographic conditions of the two areas of Algeria, with regard to human exposure, it is found that the main exposure pathways are inhalation and ingestion of contaminated particles (dust), for both underground and atmospheric nuclear tests.
Human Health Exposure
With regard to human health exposure, studies have indicated that thyroid cancer (generally, papillary thyroid cancer) is the most important consequence of nuclear tests, mainly due to radionuclide 131I. While the USA is one of the most relevant examples for significant increases in thyroid cancer incidence over the past decades (these increases were influenced to a considerable extent by iodine irradiation), similar ascending patterns have been identified in other regions of the world too, where the 131I radionuclide was released during atmospheric nuclear tests. qAccording to the National Cancer Institute, 99 % of the 131I released (150 MCi) during the U.S. nuclear tests is due to atmospheric nuclear tests conducted in the Nevada Test Site, especially between 1951 and 1958. Although it has a low half-life (8 days), it caused the contamination of the American population through rainfall runoff, ground storage and biosphere transfer (by grassland accumulation). Outstanding cases of radioactive soil contamination are recorded in the states of Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and northern Arizona, and New Mexico (over 370 kBq/m2), with a noticeable radioactivity decrease over distance from the Nevada Test Site.
This is explained by the air-mass dynamics of the 1951–1958 time period (during which the highest release of 131I radioactive debris was recorded), with dominant west-to-east air-mass movements. This shift occurred at different altitude thresholds of the atmosphere (even in the tropopause, above 10 km) and prompted a regional 131I radionuclide dispersion process. The Simon test (April 25th, 1953) is a relevant example, which released large amounts of radioactive debris, with the top of the radioactive cloud reaching a 13.7-km atmospheric height. In this instance, 80 % of the 131I activity contained in the radioactive debris was estimated to be between 9.5 km and 13.7 km (where, due to higher wind speeds, the radioactive dust dispersion process was accelerated), 10 % was between 9.5 km and ground level, and the remaining 10 % was deposited as the local fallout. Therefore, wind characteristics at different levels of the troposphere and the dominant west–east wind shift have resulted in the rapid dispersion of 131I radioactive dust over long distances and the contamination of vast territories, at least at a regional scale, during atmospheric nuclear tests.
However, the fact that there are certain spatial differences between the 131I radioactive dust deposited at ground level and the cancer thyroid dose values of the population must be acknowledged. According to the NCI the initial radionuclide retention by vegetation (especially by the grass one), the territorially-differentiated consumption levels by cows, and especially the contaminated milk processing–distribution–consumption mechanism dynamics in the USA (particularly during the fifth decade of the last century), represent the main causes for the spatial inconsistencies between the radioactive soil contamination and the irradiation of the population. Therefore, one of the most important transmission vectors of the radioactive isotope in question, especially between 1950 and 1960, was the large-scale contaminated milk distribution–consumption process in the USA, which affected even certain regions of the country’s East Coast. At the same time, the population irradiation process was amplified through the reinforcement of national-scale long-distance milk transportation and distribution patterns, as a result of the widespread use of refrigerated trucks and the reduced transportation costs in this decade.
Considering certain variables, such as age categories during exposure, geographic regions (with regard to contamination sources), and regional dietary patterns, detailed analyses show that the highest average per capita cumulative thyroid doses (expressed in milligray) are found in the states of Idaho, Montana, Utah, Colorado, and South Dakota (over 90 mGy). Moreover, another nine states recorded high values of thyroid doses, namely over 60 mGy. In order to get a better perspective on the facts, by summing up an annual average of approx. 1 mGy of the individual effective dose of radiation due to natural sources (cosmic and terrestrial gamma rays) over a 10-year time period, according to a method that is similar to that used for computing the cumulative dose during atmospheric nuclear tests—a 10 mGy cumulative dose is obtained, which is significantly lower than the dose surplus arising from the 131I contamination in the aforementioned states.
This surplus of the thyroidal dose has to be responsible for the increase in the incidence of thyroidal cancer over the last decades, at least for the severely affected states. In this case, the incidence rate can be considered a relevant indicator, as thyroidal cancer is usually characterized by morbidity and hardly ever by mortality.
By analysing the thyroid incidence dynamics over the recent decades (or over the last decade only, depending on the available data), it was found that, while all the case studies indicated significant increases, clear growth patterns could be noticed in female subjects (who are more prone to this type of cancer) in the following states: Utah (from 10 per 100 000 in 1990 to 29.4 per 100 000 in 2009), Idaho (from 8.5 per 100 000 in 1999 to 26.1 per 100 000 in 2010), Wyoming (from 7.7 per 100 000 in 2000 to 25.1 per 100 000 in 2010), and Iowa (from 4.3 per 100 000 in 1973 to 18.6 per 100 000 in 2010). Apparent ascending patterns are also found in Nebraska, Colorado, and Minnesota. Therefore, it can be asserted that, while there is a certain connection between the average per capita cumulative thyroid dose values and the thyroidal cancer incidence rate increase in the analysed states, it can only be attributed to 131I to a certain extent. The significant rise of thyroidal incidents can also be closely related to the therapeutic radiation treatments or other risk factors (mostly connected to medical procedures) which have become increasingly perceivable over the last three decades not only in the USA, but also on a global scale.
As a result, while it is cumbersome to correctly determine which risk factors are responsible for the thyroidal cancer incidence increase over the past decades, most studies have shown that therapeutic radiation treatments and environmental exposure to 131I from atmospheric nuclear testing are the most important risk factors. In a global context, the Chernobyl accident may have been an additional important cause of thyroidal cancer incidence increase in the USA, over the recent decades.
Also, with regard to population exposure to thyroid cancer risks from 131I, it is presently significantly lower, and only certain categories of people present a higher incidence risk. These categories depend mostly on variables such as their age at exposure (generally, children up to 10 years of age were the highest risk category during atmospheric nuclear tests), their location between 1951 and 1962, their main diet, their source of milk (as cow milk was the main contamination source), and the amount of milk consumed. Therefore, the age at exposure is one of the most important variables, as people exposed to radioactive iodine as children may present a high thyroidal cancer risk even decades after the cessation of atmospheric nuclear testing.
Conclusion; The nuclear tests conducted during the second half of the twentieth century have a predominant geopolitical characteristic (part of the nuclear programs of the certain powers, a means for the nuclear states to reassert their position on the global geopolitical stage), but with very serious ecological and social consequences. From the ecological point of view, at this stage, there are a few critically contaminated test sites both on land (the Nevada Test Site, Semipalatinsk) and in the marine environment (especially the Bikini, Enewetak, Moruroa, Fangataufa atolls, and Novaya Zemlya marine areas). 137Cs, 90Sr, 239–240Pu, 241Am, and 131I stand out among the radioactive isotopes released during nuclear tests, in terms of having caused a major impact on the environment and irradiation of the human body; these isotopes are predominantly found in most of the nuclear test sites worldwide. Since approximately two thirds of the Eatrh’s surface is covered by water, a significant share of these radionuclides has been transferred into the marine environment, as in the cases of radionuclides 137Cs and 90Sr, with very negative consequences being primarily related to the bio-accumulation through food chain cycles.
The indirect transfer of radionuclides into the geospheres and their accumulation in living cells, by way of the food chain, is yet another form of radioactive contamination of the marine and terrestrial ecosystems. One of the most representative examples is the isotope 14C released into the atmosphere during nuclear tests, which is later integrated into the CO2, and then reaches the marine environment, by means of the ocean–atmosphere gas exchange, or the biosphere through the process of photosynthesis.
In terms of human exposure, the increase in thyroide cancer incidence in many areas of the globe (strongly affected by the radioactive contamination with the 131I radionuclide) is the one among the worst consequences of nuclear testing. The United States is a relevant example, as a significant thyroidal cancer incidence increase can be noted in the most severely affected states. However, determining to what extent this radionuclide had influenced the incidence dynamics is not easily accomplishable, given the fact that the development of various therapeutic radiation treatments over the recent decades represents another major cause for the increase in the incidence of thyroid cancer across the USA.
Birth defects **(to be continued)
What of the failure to confront one’s own cruelty? What is it that people think they have? It is that the majority who have nothing cannot survive without illusion, while for those in power the illusions are the most dangerous and genocidal of all.
Illusions are sustained, inflated, what is of the irrational, the make-believe and the stupid nonsence that fuels them. And all the while the only truth which is the ingenious, yet grotesquely misguided contribution of human time does haunt.
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Secret Intelligence Service
Adversitate. Custodi. Per Verum
Nevada Test Site. Nevada. USA
‘Castle Bravo’ : One, in a series of ‘high-yield thermo-nuclear weapon’ tests – USA (Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands). 01 03 1954. (The weapon was the most powerful detonated by the USA, and first ‘lithium-deuteride-fueled thermonuclear weapon’).