Monbiot's position would be laughable if it weren't so damn tragic.
As the Japanese face the world's largest nuclear accident in a quarter
century, here's one of the leading environmentalists in the UK defending
the very technology that caused it. In the past Monbiot has been
careful to defend his positions with valid supporting evidence, even
chastising others for not holding up to his standards. But in the case
the nuclear power Monbiot appears satisfied in cherry picking scientific
facts when it comes to the infamous Chernobyl's 1986 disaster in order
to support his stance.
"The Chernobyl meltdown was hideous and traumatic. The official death toll so far appears to be 43: 28 workers in the initial few months and 15 civilians by 2005," wrote Monbiot, who cited World Health Organization and the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation as his source. However, even the World Health Organization concluded that approximately 4000 people would eventually die as a result of radiation exposure from Chernobyl, a statement Monbiot seemed content with dismissing.
Even so, both the UN and WHO seem to have drastically underestimated the true human cost of the Chernobyl meltdown. The New York Academy of Sciences in 2010 released the most significant and vital English language report on the deaths and environmental devastation caused by Chernobyl. After pouring through thousands of reports and studies conducted in Eastern Europe and Russia, the Academy concluded that nearly one million people have died as a result of radiation exposure.
Dr. Janette D. Sherman, who edited the volume, explained the discrepancy between the UN's assessment and the Academy's regarding Chernobyl, "[The UN] released a report ... and they only included about 350 articles available in the English language, but [the New York Academy of Sciences] looked at well over 5,000 articles ... by people who were there and saw what was going on. We are talking about medical doctors, scientists, veterinarians, epidemiologists, who saw what was happening when people in their communities were getting sick and dieing."
In the Academy's book that includes the report, titled Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment, they argue that the World Health Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency, which reports to the UN, formed an agreement in 1959 which states one will not release a report without the agreement of the other.
"This is like having Dracula guard the Blood Bank," attests Dr. Sherman, "because [the World Health Organization] is beholden to IAEA before they can release a report."
Additionally, the IAEA was set up to promote nuclear power, so any evidence that damages its credibility directly challenges the IAEA's intentions. In fact massive protests have taken place in Geneva in an effort to stop this agreement, which is still in place.
"This agreement ... needs to be stopped," adds Dr. Sherman.