Prof. Robert Carter

Power Industry and Human Adaptation

Letter to Robert M. Carter, James Cook University, Queensland, Australia
mailto:bob.carter@jcu.edu.au .

Dear professor Carter,

I should like to remember your excellent lecture held on 8th December 2010 in Prague Center of Economy and Politics. I should like to remember also my short discussion of the theme with you and Mr. president Klaus after the lecture. I have published my information about your lecture in Internet journal Národní listy with some additional information. Particularly, I supplied some information concerning factors affecting climate.

First such factor is the negative feedback reducing climate effect: with growing temperature of the Earth surface, the energy radiated off the surface grows with the fourth power of its (absolute) temperature, so small changes of temperature cause significant changes of energy. Furthermore, practice proved„ that with growing concentration of CO2 in atmosphere grows production of the green mass of plants (up to concentration 2-5%), so the greenhouse gases are more intensively absorbed.

Elbrus from observatory Shajatmaz

Another effect is the solar activity. First information I found in the course of the Russian TV: Тайны солнечной бездны (Secrets of the Solar Abyss) from Russian Solar Coronary Laboratory on the mountain plato Shajat-Maz (Шаджат-маз, 43° 44' N, 42° 40' E, 2056 m/sea) 40 km north from Elbrus, equipped by trophy coronary telescope fy Carl Zeis Jena. In it they mention the solar activity, which in the time of film creation (2008) was growing with maximum in 2012, then it should fall — scholars used several known cyclic periods. Then, if the main effect on the global warming has solar activity, it should fall soon.

Solar Maculae

For more details about the Russian research see (1).

Adaptation and survival

Global warming is partially artificial dread created by wicked politician not able to endanger of human race —  at worst growing sea level can be uncomfortable for inhabitants of Venetia or Florida, but human race can adapt for it — temperature change has occurred several times during human existence. Another question is, if human race is able to adapt for growing radioactivity caused by the fuel spent by the fission nuclear reactors. Nevertheless, the most dangerous are not local catastrophes like Chernobyl or Fukushima casing local thread, but long time escape of spent fuel created during normal work of fission reactors.

Global warming causes the change of the physical conditions only not influencing the base of the Earth biological life — the genetic information. Moreover — the living organisms development excluded those not able to adapt. On the other hand — so complicated organisms as homo sapiens were developed by the time, when natural Earth surface radioactivity was so low, that it did not destroy its genetic potential. 

Some arguments:

  1. As a result, the nuclear fission creates radioactive isotopes, some with very long decay half-time — some of them between thousand and hundreds thousands years ( 99Tc, 226Ra …). The only method of its disposal is its deposing. During their lifetime, the nuclear waste can escape and contaminate the Earth surface.
  2. The secondary product of nuclear fission of 235U is 239Pu and other transuraniums proper to produce nuclear weapons. Those product and nuclear waste are dangerous, can be abused by terorists and can endanger all nations.
  3. Majority of the present power stations  were primarily built as a  source of plutonium to produce nuclear weapons — e.g. the waste from the Czechoslovak power stations were sent to USSR, where is was reprocessed correspondingly. The used technology corresponds to that goal — low efficiency in electricity production, most energy is put to air, only small part is transferred to electrical power — corresponding working temperature   ~ 300 0C. The true efficient nuclear power stations require new technology with higher efficiency.
  4. As I found out, the common population looks on the problems of the nuclear energy with high naivety as a result of insufficient education. Majority of people do not understand difference between chemical processes and processes in atom nucleus. Nevertheless, on the contrary to e.g. harm by electricity, the harm by radioactive radiation appears much later, sometimes it can persist for several generations.
  5. The planet Earth was in the time of its creation much more radioactive — during the time, much radioactive materials decayed,  simultaneously fall radioactive background. Maybe, even there were natural nuclear reactors(2). From that time, the new radioactive materials has fallen to Earth.
  6. Radioactive iradiation act upon all living substance disturbing its genetic information used both for organism reproduction — creation of the new individuals — and grow of the more complicated organisms — cell reproduction. The more complicated is organism (measures by DNA length), the more it is destructed by radioactive radiation. For this reason —  development of most complicated organisms — including human — have occurred till in low radioactive background.
  7. On the contrary to global warning, where human and other biological species are adaptable, adaptation for higher radioactive background is practically impossible. The nature knows only one form of adaptation — the death of endangered individuals, genetic groups or all species — especially those more complicated. If human should the danger underrate — they could exterminate itself. Some more information follows.
  8. Another variant of power production — nuclear or thermonuclear fusion — is not yet technologically managed. Its advantage is, that it produce the light element only with short decay. For some 50 let, prognoses insist, that problem will be solved in 20 years. Up to now however rather fantasy.

Effect of radioactivity on living organisms (mammals) (3)

The effect of the irradiation on living organism is short-term and long-term. The first corresponds to strong short time radioactive irradiation by nuclear explosion and catastrophes; organism either survive or not, when not, it is not permanently endangered. But we are more interested in long-term effects caused by long time irradiation causing disturbance of genetic information. All practical knowledge is taken from empiric observation of irradiated laboratory animals, but also wild mice living in the environment of nuclear power station Chernobyl.

Long term effect can be again split to two categories — effect upon one organism and effects transmitted to ancestors. The first appears mainly by tumor growth, while the second group causes genetic mutation of next generations.

Harm of one organism

The irradiation effect in some organism cell can be again split into two categories. In majority cases, the non functional cell is created. Such cell organism destroy without harm. When such cell is not too much, organism recovers. But when the irradiated cell is vital, it can result in some form of malign tumor, which can be for organism fatal. Therefore long term irradiation can cause more frequent occurrences of cancer or leukemia.

Transmission of genetic mutations

Genetic mutation can be transmitted to genetic cells, which then bear disturbed genetic information to next generation. Some consequences can occur:

  1. Genetic failure is in some part of DNA (RNA), which is not for organism critical. The mutation is transmitted to ancestor, but has no visible effect. Such mutation is not practically observed.
  2. Genetic failure occurred in the part of information critical for the organism function. In the most cases syllepsis results in non vital embryo, it ceases grow and then disappears. Observable effect is worst genial power of parents. Nature eliminates by this way non-functional genetic combinations — not only those caused by irradiation.
  3. Syllepsis creates vital embryo. When mutation shows itself later, the fetus is aborted. When fetus is vital, result is mutant — which can not be resolved from mutants created for other reasons.
  4. When the fetus is significantly damaged, it dies or it is not able to have ancestors. In such case, the genetic line is closed.
  5. When mutant survives and produces ancestors, his genetic failure is transmitted to next generation. Combining of genetic pairs of mutant and non-mutant individuals, the genetic failure is transmitted to next generations and can show itself after several generations. Concurrently, the natural development prefers individuals more resistant to irradiation — mainly for more simple species.
  6. When there survives several generations (e.g. after explosion), the nature ensures „clearing“ of their gene pool and mutant frequency falls. It has been observed for wild mice near Chernobyl power station.
  7. When frequency of genetic failures caused by radioactive background grows faster, than natural development can clear, the biological specie extinct — and there survives only species more resistant to irradiation.
  8. Those biological laws are valid for all biological species, including homo sapiens. Therefore, the last paragraph can can describe even situation, when  the waste from power stations escapes to environment increasing radioactive background over livable level.
  9. When radioactive background is under critical level, its influence cause mainly increased mortality (mainly by cancer) and decreased birth rate. Thereupon phenomenon we observe today. But author do not argue, that the main reason is radioactive background — various harmful effects are cumulated.

Conclusion

While so called global warming is natural phenomenon existing on the Earth for millions years, and intensity of which vary, the possible radioactive contamination of its surface by radioactive waste is new phenomenon, which does not occur after creation of biological life there.

The raise of Earth surface temperature by several degrees can cause many incontinences, but mankind — specie homo sapiens — can adapt itself to such change.

On the other hand — the raise of radioactive background on Earth is entirely new phenomenon — some raise could be observed in 1950s due to nuclear weapons tests. If mankind would not be able to prevent its growth over some critical value, it might results even to extinction of mankind as biological specie. Similar effect could be caused by another reason — e.g. the nuclear war (may be the „preventive“ one).

Naturally, it would be no disaster for the Earth, which ecologists call by slogan "THE PLANET DIES". The planet would naturally survive, only one harmful specie would extinct. And may be some of  its relative species. But for planet Earth it is no danger.

When the significant part of radioactive waste would be expend — from geological point of view it is instant — the new living environment would be created for development of some new species filling up space left by extinct homo sapiens. We can only believe, that they would be wiser than we are.

Special opportunity will gain Australian non-placenta mammals — e.g. Platypus.

Jiří Šoler


Notes

(1)  Fifth national report if Russian federation concerning art. 4 and 12 UNO convention of climate changes and art. 7 of Kyoto protocol. (2010).
 See also Kondratjev K. Ja., Nikol'skij G. A.: Vosdějstvija solněčnoj aktivnosti na strukturnyje komponěnty Zemli. 1. Meteorologičeskije uslovija. Isseldovanije Zemli iz kosmosa 2005, No. 3, pp. 1-10 and other papers of the same authors quoted in the paper.
(2) F. Gauthier-Lafaye: The last natural nuclear fission reactor. Nature 387, 337 (May 22, 1987)
Philip Ball: Are there nuclear reactors at Earth's core?. Nature News (Mat 15, 2008)
(Reactor was located in Oklo, Gabun)
(3) Tatiana T. Glazko, Valerii I. Glazko: Genetické důsledky Černobylu. Vesmír 85, 201, 2006/4. (In Czech)
V. I. Glazko: Chernobyl after 20 years. Priroda No 5, 2006 (In Russian)
See paper of the same authors in English: 
Tatiana T. Glazko, Valerii I. Glazko: Problems of species gene pool conservation in mammals after the Chernobyl ecological catastrophe. Animal Science Papers and Reports vol. 22 (2004) no. 1, 141-148