Given the main point of this blog is to separate science from pseudoscience, I sometimes have to take unpopular positions; And today I feel it's vital to call Adi Roche and the Chernobyl Children's Project International out for misinforming the public. Adi Roche is the director and co-founder of the CCPI, and even ran for president of Ireland. She very nearly won it too, only allegations that she was a bully by former charity workers, including the co-founder sunk her bid. That is irrelevant here however - what concerns me is her and the CCPI's blatant disregard for science and flagrant misinformation. I've waxed lyrical before about radiophobia hysteria and radiation panic, both for The Journal and in regards to both Fukushima and Chernobyl on this blog before, so I'll endeavour to not repeat myself too much.
Adi Roche is an incredible self-publicist, and anything she says or does will get covered by the press. That may be a good thing for generating donations to her charity but seemingly not for public understanding of science - Just yesterday she visited Fukushima as an invited expert on radiation, and in what may be an egregious abuse of the word expert, came out with her usual line:
|The Horror! The Horror!|
Seriously, think of this for one second - Ms Roche has been invited by a group of business men to Japan to tell them radiation is a horror. She tells them on the anniversary of a natural disaster that killed 20,000 + people to remember the 'disaster' at Fukushima - an event that claimed zero lives and is highly unlikely to do so ever. This galls me - she is exploiting suffering people to further her own agenda by conflating the staggering loss of life with the technical difficulties at Fukushima and I frankly find that abhorrent. But the problem is deeper than just Ms Roche's remarks. Some of the statements the CCPI make are entirely and dangerously wrong. Here's some that raised alarm bells with me;
- "There has been a 250 percent increase in congenital birth deformities since the explosion, a 100 percent increase in the incidence of cancer and leukemia and a staggering 2,400 percent increase in the incidence of thyroid cancer. Other disorders, including congenital heart diseases, have also increased significantly."
- "The long-term effects of this level of radiation on the children and adults living in the region, as well as the enduring effects on the environment, are largely unknown.Research is critical to help us understand the ongoing consequences of these unprecedented levels of contamination, and find the best ways to help those affected. CCI has contributed to the slowly growing pool of Chernobyl-related research by funding the work of the late, highly respected independent scientist Professor Vasily Nesterenko, a member of the Academy of Sciences of Belarus and a Director of the Belarusian Institute of Radiation Safety."