42 A decade after Fukushima Dai-ichi with Philip Thomas

AS: After the worst nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, the evacuation was exaggerated. About five or 10 times too many people moved out. After Fukushima no one should have been moved not 100,000 960,000 no one needed to move out of their homes.

The Rational View is a weekly series hosted by me Dr. Alan Scott, providing a rational, evidence based perspective addressing important societal issues. Hello, and welcome to another episode of the rational view. I’m your host, Dr. Al Scott.

On this episode, I’m going to be continuing my series looking at nuclear power, the risks and the promises of nuclear power for addressing climate change and providing near limitless power for society. In this episode, it’s kind of a special date. We’re in the middle of March 2021. And this is the 10th anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, which occurred on March 11 2011, when a magnitude nine earthquake and huge tsunami washed over the nuclear plant on the coast of Japan, resulting in a meltdown of three of its four reactors. Interestingly, the Fukushima Daiini nuclear plant doesn’t get much press. It was 10 kilometers closer to the epicenter, and was successfully shut down during the devastation of the tsunami. But the Fukushima Daiichi plant resulted in Japan shutting down its nuclear power plants. It resulted in a global response which slowed the adoption of nuclear. Had Germany decide to shut down its entire nuclear industry and ramping up its coal. So, the death toll from this accident was much greater than what one might think from the radioactivity itself, which was decided to be relatively low. In terms of its impact. The real impact was the fear response, and the fact that it slowed the adoption of clean energy and increased the output of coal which is known to kill people from the pollution and also from the climate change impacts. As always, if you enjoy the content that you’re hearing, please press like and share it with your friends. Join the discussion, I’m opening up a new Facebook group. It’s facebook.com/groups/the rational view that’ll be opening up on Pi Day 2021. I hope to see you there.

Professor Philip Thomas has extensive experience in the chemical and nuclear industries with over 20 years experience at Imperial Chemical Industries in the UK, and UK Atomic Energy Authority where he managed the Greenfield decommissioning of the Windscale advanced gas cooled reactor. He moved into academia in 2000, taking up a chair in the engineering development at City University of London. The University of Bristol appointed him professor of risk management in 2015. He is a freeman of the City of London, and junior warden of the Worshipful Company of scientific instrument makers, a city of London guild. He has published over 130 journal and conference papers on control, instrumentation, nuclear decommissioning, risk assessment, economics and law. His book ‘simulation of industrial processes for control engineers’ was published in 1999. Professor Thomas, welcome to The Rational View.

3:53 

PT: Thank you. Thank you very much.

AS: Appreciate you joining me for this. I’m actually quite intrigued by your title of a freeman of the City of London and junior warden of worshipful scientific instrument makers. Can you tell me what those are?

PT: Basically, it’s a charitable institution as it’s known as a closed guild in the sense that you need to have something to do with measurement and control and instrumentation, data handling in order to qualify as a member as a livery man, as awe all know. And it’s restricted to about 200 people, the diversity of the people who are actually there, what they have done, or what they are doing is extremely interesting.

4:42 

AS: Very cool. And so as a livery, man, do you have a coat of arms for this group?

PT: I don’t have a personal coat of arms, but yes, we do. And if you look up for short, WC s, I’m on the website and if you Google that you’ll be able to see our coat of arms, which is actually got Newton and Faraday as prime, upholders of that coat of arms.

5:08 

AS: Very cool. That’s really neat. So let me get into our discussion here. So you are an expert on risk assessment and nuclear decommissioning, and looking at risks surrounding nuclear power and nuclear power accidents. As part of your research, you’ve developed a framework that enables objective decisions to be taken on expenditure to protect humans and the environment. This is a rare and precious thing. I think rationality in the public sphere of risk management and expenditures is typically out the window because it’s being run by politicians in most cases, and whatever sells the best to the populace is the raison d’etre. Could you provide an overview for listeners of the framework that you’ve developed?

6:01 

PT: Yes, I’d be delighted to. It’s, we call it the j value, J, for judgment. And what we do is we first ask ourselves a question of what is it that you stand to lose if you lose your life? And it’s not such an easy question to answer. And the solution that we have come up with is that you lose something which is sort of measurable, it is the life expectancy that you can expect to have from this point onwards, it’s different for different people, it’s certainly different for different ages, so that the life expectancy that a young woman of 20 stands to lose by being killed in an accident, in a car accident, for example, that is a lot more I mean, it would be something like 80-85 years, something like that in the UK, that’s a lot more than she would stand to lose, if she would have faced the same accident 60 years later, when her life expectancy would be something more like eight to 10 years, it is actually it corresponds to something which is measurable, which is measured has been measured since the 17th century by another livery man, originally, incidentally. And we have statistics, we have actuarial statistics that the admission and the unique thing for this method is that we can actually balance that against the cost of extending that life, of avoiding a risk and restoring the life to what it would have been in the absence of the risk. And we do that, through this method called the j value brings in a concept which is actually mathematically definable called risk aversion, which is more or less what it says it is. People who are more risk averse have a higher value of risk aversion. And if we actually look at a country, like Japan, it has a life expectancy at birth of round about nearing 85 years. If you look at some sub-Saharan much poorer countries, then their life expectancy at birth is about 30 years less. But they are both taking we can explain the decisions they’re taking, they’re both devoting a fraction, not all of their income, not all of their resorts to try to extend their lives, they’ve got other things to do as well. Other very important things to do. But part of it they devote to extending the resource and we can explain 80% of the variation of in life expectancy with gross domestic product for a head GDP per head. So we’ve actually got a totally rational basis for our recommendations.

9:03 

AS: Okay, so this is trying to put a monetary equivalent, as it were. And I know I’ve looked at actuarial tables before and it seems cold and you know, putting numbers on life, but people will say, you know, the average worth of the human life is $10 million, for example, for actuarial calculations, is that something like what this is doing?

PT: It’s something like it. And what you say in as far as $10 million is concerned is not too bad. An estimate from our perspective, the trouble with those estimates, there are two problems with those estimates. One, they actually put the same value on the 80 year old woman’s life as a 20 year old former self, which we would contend is inaccurate. It’s rough and really it’s better than nothing, but it’s not terribly accurate. So that’s the first thing. The second thing is it’s very difficult to measure. And in the UK people have tried to measure that. And they’ve tried to be scientific about it. But we found that when they do there are major flaws in their reasoning. And we’ve actually found in the standard exercise, which is used by the UK government, which actually incidentally puts a value of 2 million pounds on a life a lot less than the $10 million that you’re talking about, then that’s actually invalidated by its own data. So there are real problems, where’s the j value? It doesn’t rely on anyone’s subjective judgment. It relies totally on data, all its parameters come from data right across the world, across the whole of our, from 180 out of 193 nations who are registered with the UN, they all conform to the same basic law. And so we think that we’ve actually got something which is objective uniquely, it’s entirely objective. It’s entirely data driven, there is no aspect of subjectivity in it.

11:21 

AS: And this, is this linking life to economic productivity in some way, then?

PT: No, it’s not in the sense that not enough not in the direct sense. And so we don’t, what we do is our ethical stance, or the j values, ethical stance, I should say, is to value the next day of life the same for everyone. So we value everyone’s life expectancy, rich or poor, or young or old, the same.

11:54 

AS: Okay, that’s good. So this is a very interesting approach. And I really like the idea of the rational approach to risk management in this. One of the reasons that I’ve got into this podcast and The Rational View is that I’m aghast at risk management in politics, and then in the social sphere. But for this particular episode, I wanted to focus a little bit on the Fukushima accident, the great Japan earthquake and tsunami, occurred March 11 2011. And we’re almost now 10 years to the day of that occurrence. And at the 10th anniversary, I thought it fitting to review the event and its impact with an expert. You have recently led a team applying the j value, which you’ve just described to us and complementary techniques, to gauge how best to cope with a big nuclear accident such as Chernobyl or Fukushima. Could you please summarize for our listeners, you know what happened at Fukushima, and the string of events that you’ve analyzed?

13:01 

PT: Well, Fukushima, it happened 10 years ago this week, and they have an enormous earthquake, one of the worst earthquakes they’ve ever had, if not the worst earthquake, and that led to follow on a tsunami and one of the plants that they– actually all four pressurized, sorry, boiling water reactors, BWS, which were operating at the time, and they shut down when they detected the earthquake, and that was all fine. And so they’d gone into a state where they were being cooled to get rid of the decay heat, but 45 minutes after they had shut down they were hit by this enormous tidal wav. What it did was it knocked out the cooling systems knocked out the cooling pumps knocked out the cooling systems you need on a reactor. The reactors overheated, they melted, the fuel melted, it was contained within the plant. But there were gases that escaped and particulates that escaped. Some particulates escaped and in fact they were actually hydrogen explosions, not nuclear explosions, but hydrogen explosions which vented this to the outside world. About 110,000 people were told that they needed to evacuate, which they did, and they were joined by about 45 to 50,000 of the people who were living nearby who hadn’t been told to evacuate, but decided to do so anyway. So it was round about 160,000 in total people evacuated. We examined that. I lead–it was actually a multi-University study and my own university used the j value method to look at it. Others, other universities, Manchester used optimal economic control to look at the problem. And the Open University looked at another method, they had a collaboration with Public Health England, and they looked at their cuts. And the extraordinary thing is, and we’re looking at this in 2012, one year after Fukushima, the extraordinary thing is that we all came, all these things were coming to the same conclusion, which surprised us, which was that it was not a good idea to evacuate people after a big nuclear the worst, some of the worst, the worst nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, the evacuation was exaggerated. About five or 10 times too many people moved out. After Fukushima, no one should have been moved, not 100,000 or 160,000. No one needed to move out of their homes. The first thing that I think our study actually showed was that people should be aware. You should be biased against moving people out in almost no severe nuclear accidents. Should you be moving people out? Certainly not many people. That’s the first. But then we come to information. And the information could be better. The information was actually gathered by people flying around in helicopters and flying and taking radiation measurements. And that’s fair enough. We’ve looked at ways of improving on that. And I think that will be the next phase of what I would like to see happening. Because you can improve on that. Physics and Technology have moved on. We now have drone technology. And I have a colleague at Bristol, Professor Tom Scott, who has demonstrated flying drones over nuclear facilities, including after Fukushima, and doing incredibly detailed mapping of the radionuclides that are contaminating the ground. He’s flown over a disused uranium mine in Cornwall, and produced a very, very detailed map over quite a wide area. So it’s potentially possible in the future to do far, far better. We have the information, we could use that information, we could translate that information on contamination into life expectancy, harm that would be done. And we can do the whole job. And we can keep people informed in real time on an app on their phones.

17:54 

AS: Oh, wow. Yeah, that would be really cool. So just take a step back and look at the bigger perspective what was the harm that resulted from this accident? And from the evacuation? Can you summarize, you know, how many people died? How many people got cancer? What, happened? And what was the result of those actions?

18:20 

PT: Well, no, no one died as a result of radiation exposure. The harm that was done was actually the best estimate we have or the harm that was done was about 2000.People in old people’s homes and older people were moved out. And about over 2000 of those died prematurely earlier than you would have expected a similar cohort to die within the next three years. And we’ve looked at the life expectancy that was lost, and so on. So the net effect of the evacuation, not the accident, but of the evacuation was to cause some premature deaths. If we think about the harm, well, we can translate the radioactive dose that people received. We now have measurements, quite good measurements of the radioactive dose the UN, United Nations Standing Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation has done some very good work in this area. We can use that to estimate what dose people did receive. And they received small amounts of radioactive dose and radiation dose but very small indeed. And the level of one or two millisieverts, which would have very little effect on them at all.

19:57 

AS: One or two millisieverts, just to put it in perspective is on the order of a typical background,

PT: Yes, and you will do background radiation that areas around about 2 milliseiverts per year. So yes, exactly. So and but we found that if the people had stayed in the worst affected town, which was Tomioka, there are 16,000 people there, they were all moved out, if they had stayed there, then they could expect to have lost over the next, you know, till to the end of their lives basically, over the next 70 years, we were looking at that sort of time period, around about two to three months of life expectancy, which is rather small. I mean, we would actually, we would not recommend. When you apply the j value to that, if you get a value which is above one, then you are spending too much, and the J values that are coming out were above one. What’s usually above one, it might have been something like one, 1.5, or two, something like that. So we’ll be thinking about starting to move people out at that sort of level, but not so. But to put that in perspective, the j value is a very sensitive tool and it puts a very high premium on people’s life to come. If I spent 15 years in London at the moment, the average Londoner is losing four and a half months life expectancy to air pollution. Yet no one is asking for London, all the inhabitants of London to be evacuated.

21:45 

AS: That’s an interesting statistic. So this is the particulates in the air from fossil fuel burning and diesel. And all of these things have a measurable impact on the inhabitants of London, which is roughly twice what the inhabitants of that town would have incurred by staying there.

PT: Yeah, so I can tell if I can tell a slightly amusing story of that. And sort of media story of that. When our results were published, there was media interest in our work and the Times of London carried the story that was picked up by the Evening Standard. And one of the things they had said in the Times London they had more or less said to use that statistic that the pollution after Fukushima, in the worst affected town was less than the pollution in London. An enterprising reporter from the London Evening Standard had picked up that story there sort of afternoon, the evening paper, picked up on the story and switched it around and said living in London is the same as living in a nuclear disaster area. So they’ve got their headline, they’ve got their striking headline, it was the same information, and they chose that way. And so it’s the spin and yet they weren’t entirely wrong at all. I mean, there isn’t equality there. And of course, you need to do something about the pollution, which actually in London, so we don’t say you shouldn’t have done anything, you should have done something.

23:25 

AS:  I find it ironic. I know that Tokyo was probably similar to London, that many of the people evacuated probably went to a more dangerous area because of the fossil fuel pollution and the fact that Japan following Fukushima shut down all of their nuclear reactors and started burning more fossil fuels actually killed more people than would have ever been hurt by the nuclear accident.

23:57 

PT: Yeah, we haven’t actually investigated it precisely. But I know that after Fukushima of the nuclear power industry, which had been generating 25% of Japan’s electricity, by 2015, it was producing it has gone down from 25% down to less than 1%. The slack was picked up by the Japanese burning more coal and natural gas and oil. And those sources of energy, which were previously producing about 55% of Japan’s electricity, they shot up to 80%. And they’ve started now to restart they have now started very gingerly began the restart of the nuclear industry. And so they’re now producing about 6% of their electricity through nuclear. They’re producing about 7% then through solar PV, and so through renewables, very little wind, but a little bit of wind. And the result is that the fossil fuel production has fallen from 80%, down to 70%. But it’s still significantly higher than it was before the accident.

25:23 

AS:  Yeah, it seems these type of irrational knee jerk decisions that I like to hold up to a light, I find often that nuclear risks are held up to a very bright light. While the alternative to avoiding nuclear is commonly not looked at, yes. And, you know, you have to look at the cost for avoiding nuclear. In Chernobyl, people said, well look at all of these, all of these people that have died. But, you know, the people that have died in response to the Chernobyl accident, were actually dying, because the fall of the Soviet Union and the fact that they’ve lost all their services and their medical industry and, and their incomes, you don’t compare apples and apples in a lot of cases. And I think that’s one of the things that this j value seems to put into perspective is, it’s got a quantitative way of looking at the risks. So I liked your idea of using drones for getting information quickly. I think that’s a very good idea. And I’m sure we’re gonna see that in response to future accidents.

26:33 

PT: Well, I hope so. But I’m not sure. I say that, because of the, I think the nuclear industry is a very conservative industry. It’s also something of an industry, it’s been battered by public relations. And I think there are two sort of approaches in nuclear industry, one to get out there and address the problem, and try and solve the problem and tell people educate people tell them what’s actually happening, and so on. And try to convey the real picture in the best way in which they can, that’s on the one side, I think, on the other side, say, well, let’s just keep our heads down, and hope that the problem eventually goes away. I don’t actually believe that I don’t actually belong to that camp. I think that the nuclear industry should be moving out there and actually saying this. But I’d say it’s very conservative. So one wouldn’t in the UK, when we’ve advocated these methods, we’ve had not sort of only a slight interest, we’ve had a lot more interest, one of the sponsors for this technology was India, which wants to increase its nuclear power very considerably. They have shown a very strong interest in taking this further, but it’s not going to happen on its own. That is, it is, as you, I think and believe is that it has the potential to make a very big difference to the way in which people perceive nuclear.

28:16 

AS: Do you provide guidelines in your paper about, you know, at what level of radiation, for example, people should be removed from their homes, I know, as you say, in the Fukushima area, that the increased radiation is similar to the background radiation, but Japan has a very low official safety level for radiation. And so they reacted differently than, say, a different municipality with a higher limit. And these limits, I don’t know, exactly where they come from. And I don’t think they’ve been thought out rationally as we say, if the limits were rational, every city in the world would be evacuated due to the, to the smog.

29:01 

PT: Yes, I think if you ask them to explain why they have set upon their limits, I think they would not be able to take you very far. They sort of feel it’s right. And looking at them. They have some rationale. But the only rationale that we can give them is to actually apply the j value to them, and then see if they’re there. Okay. And there is nothing else that can actually do that. So yes, I think the whole area of limits needs to be looked at.

29:38 

AS: I think the current limits are mainly set using the precautionary principle and not based on any particular scientific data that suggests the risks. They’re basically saying, Well, this is the background level, let’s not increase it because we don’t know if there’s a risk of increasing it.

PT: I broadly agree with that. I think they take that as a reference point.

30:00 

AS: If you look at theories of how risk or how radiation causes cancer causes health risks, there are multiple different schools of thought. The worst case is what they call the linear no threshold theorem where any particular radioactive decay can cause cancer. And it’s just a roll of the dice, there’s no and every bit of radiation is potentially deadly in this thought. And then there’s the other side, which suggests that there’s a threshold and below which the body deals fine with radiation damage, and any sort of low doses in the region of the background, or maybe 10 times the background really don’t have a measurable effect at all on health. And because cancer is something that is relatively prevalent in society, the statistical differences to tiny doses of radiation just can’t be teased out. Does that affect the rational response depending on which of these models is correct?

31:06 

PT: Well, it was certainly, and I think you’re giving a very good summary of the situation. I know that I attended a conference a couple of years ago, out in America, where there was an argument which was being pursued where it was suggested that anything below something like the 100 mSv which is 50 times background radiation in Japan, and also in the UK, incidentally, they thought — one set of people thought that would make no difference. What we do with the j value is we take the recommendations of the ICRP, this International Commission on Radiological Protection, we take those, we believe that they are conservative, but we build those into our models. And we apply the j value to those. So what I’ve said about three months life two or three months life expectancy, being at stake by moving a lot moving in Tomioka town, that that’s with the ICRP coefficients applied to that. And what we say is, irrespective of the j value, I think that in itself is a very useful statistic for people to see, I think if people had seen that coming out on their phones or so far, we calculate you might have lost three weeks, in total life expectancy, I think that would have put it very much in perspective.

32:47 

AS: So in the aftermath of Fukushima, we had, as you say, about 2000 people died due to the evacuation, and nobody died due to the radiation. And this is the crux of the problem in terms of the CES, the societal response to radioactive releases or nuclear accidents, it’s that the fear is the enemy, not the actual radiation, it’s very, very difficult to kill someone with radiation, you have to really get it inside them and have it sit there for a long time. And as you say, there are things that can be done to prevent uptake of radioactive debris and clean it out. And, you know, the best thing to do is sit in place. In most cases, you know, this is the worst case, possible scenario you could think of that happened at Fukushima and the fourth largest earthquake in the history of recorded history, and a huge tsunami and a triple meltdown. And nobody was killed by the radiation, that containment basically worked, there was a small release, due to a hydrogen explosion, which scattered this around, and the amount of radiation that came out was not enough to kill people or have a very negligible effect. No, no acute radiation sickness occurred. And then the question is, what is the long term risk of this added radiation? And it’s obviously a hotly debated thing, but we’ve gotten to the situation where we’ve made mistakes, I think, in communicating risk to the public as scientists and technical people. Somehow we failed to communicate the risks adequately, and there’s this fear response that is killing people that is actively hurting people, you know, we have a rational approach. And we have what actually happens. How did we get here and how do we fix it?

34:44 

PT: Well, I think the first thing is knowledge. Charles Dickens, back in Victorian times, identified ignorance as one of the worst evils and he wanted people to be educated. So I think there’s this enormous ignorance about the true, rather low effects of radiation in the quantities which we can reasonably expect ever to face even after the worst, as you say, the worst nuclear accident ever. I favor the honest scientists position we tell people our best knowledge, we try to place that knowledge in a way which people don’t understand, I don’t think anyone understands for instance, millisieverts is the effect of. They have to translate that into something of the moment, I think many of them translate it into something which is rather fuzzy. We can translate it. We and Walter Marshall before us could translate that into loss of life, loss of life expectancy, that I think people can understand. I’m gonna give you an example, we have looked at the case of the food ban, which had been in place in the UK, for the whole of the 25 years, between from Chernobyl in 1986, to two past Fukushima in 2011, it was only lifted in 2012, this is on lamb, which was where the lamb was raised, the sheep are raised on hills in Wales, and Scotland and Northern England. And because of the Chernobyl spread of low quantities of radioactivity, across contamination, right across Europe, had a very, very small effect. But it does I mean, we think we calculate, for example, that the average UK citizen would have lost four hours to the fallout from Chernobyl, we have done that calculation. But they actually put in, okay, they thought this would concentrate in lambs, we didn’t do the calculation, we weren’t set up to do the calculation in 1986. But we could actually do the calculations in 2012. And when we looked at those and looked at and found the residual, the residual risk was that if someone had ate exclusively the most radioactive lamb produced, sheep that came down from the hills, and at prodigious amounts of lamb, there couldn’t be too many of such people, by the way, because there wasn’t enough lamb. But nevertheless, if this happened, then that person might lose four hours of life expectancy.

AS: Wow.

PT: And if it had been spread across the sort of consumption of the whole of the UK that life expectancy lost would have been measured in microseconds,

38:05 

AS: Then that’s on the order of like, you know, walking by someone smoking a cigarette?

PT: Yes, exactly. And I mean, they are such palpably ludicrous figures that one comes up with and I think people can look at that and say, Well, gosh, no, that’s too much. But that ban was actually kept in place, when that was happening is now has now been lifted. But that’s the sort of thing you can do. Again, irrespective of the j value of us work life expectancy, it’s an extremely powerful statistic.

AS: Hmm. It’d be interesting to calculate the actual loss of life expectancy from the evacuation to more polluted area.

38:53 

PT: Well, we could we get to one of those things, because that happened. It actually, one of evacuation spots after Fukushima actually gained them an extra dose of about four or five millisieverts, because they’d moved to a slightly more polluted area. So that did actually happen. And that was easy to look at it was deleterious to move for the move to slightly…

AS: Or moving to Tokyo, where the air pollution is worse.

PT: Yes, yes. That’s that too. Again, we haven’t done the calculation, but not to potentially, yes, yes.

39:26 

AS: Yeah. I think that, you know, the public is reacting to the actions of governments. And believing that, you know, in a rational sense, nuclear must be horrible, because, look, we’re going to these polluted cities, rather than staying put. So a rational person would see this action and interpret nuclear as being worse. Something must be being hidden from us. Because why would they evacuate us if there’s no danger?

39:57 

PT: I think that’s exactly right. In fact, the J value allows you to have a sort of insight into what you have just said, it gives you another explanation for it because it does say there is an equivalence between what people would ideally spend on safety, and the amount of hazard which  it’s taking away. And if you think of someone, I mean, if you think of the average person, at Chernobyl who was seeing his government, I mean, people around Chernobyl, they’re not certainly weren’t prosperous, certainly not by Western standards. And they would have seen their government, which they found hadn’t really taken too much notice of them before, but suddenly, they were spending like it’s no tomorrow. And I think exactly your thought that they would think either that were being saved from something terrible. Or, and there’s evidence for this, they thought, well, we’re being paid huge amounts of compensation by the government, which is flailing around trying to keep us happy, after the terrible fate that has now befallen us. And so we are now going to, our lives will have been foreshortened we will die young or certainly younger than we expected to be when we died. And the result of that, of course, is that a large section of that population then indulged in rather risky behavior, as a result are saying ‘we’ve got nothing to lose’. So yes, I think that’s right. I think it is that message does go out to him. The lack of rigor in the response is more damaging than the act or the accident itself.

AS: So based on all of this and your research into relative risks, and how to judge them, I’d be interested to hear your opinion on nuclear energy going forward, knowing that there’s a possibility of a further meltdown or nuclear accident, however slight. What’s your opinion on nuclear energy in light of climate change concerns and fossil fuel burning and risks? How do you see this as a, is nuclear energy a solution? For some of this? Or should we be avoiding nuclear energy in the future?

42:33 

PT: No, I think it’s necessary. I think it’s the only concentrated form of energy production, which can operate without producing carbon at the point of generation. So I think that I mean, renewables have their place, but they are intermittent. Wind, solar, they are both intermittent. But nuclear is a pretty safe and secure way of producing energy. And we do need that. And we do need that to avoid the climate change that that we are now all aware of, and there’s evidence, very good evidence that it is happening. So yes, nuclear is needed for that. I think that the nuclear industry still faces an existential threat. after Fukushima, Germany decided to move out of nuclear altogether. But I see no way for it to address that threat squarely unless it adopts the sort of methods, the j value methods that we have been using.

43:57 

AS: That’s very, very interesting. I think. It’s something that needs more publicity. And I think we need to get these sorts of analyses in front of decision makers and get the processes in place where people can make rational decisions in relation to risks. And I agree with you, I think the most rational way forward is that we need to expand nuclear energy massively to decrease the risk of fossil fuels on both the climate and on the local pollution and livelihoods of people. If we want to save lives and make the world a better place. Abundant, high intensity energy sources are a requirement, I think, and yes, solar and wind help, to some extent, but they aren’t going to do the heavy lifting. We need to get rid of fossil fuels in the near future at least. So I think we’re getting to the end of our time slot. I’d like to thank you for joining me and sharing your expertise with our listeners. This has been great material appreciated. Professor Thomas, thank you for coming on the rational view.

PT: Thank you pleasure.

AS: If you’re enjoying what you’re hearing, please consider visiting my Patron page and becoming a patron of this podcast at Patron.podbean.com/therationalview

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