Opponents of nuclear power plants were cheered by the results of a recent study suggesting that, with public health in mind, more of these marvels that turn out cheap, clean energy ought to be shut down.

Closing a nuclear reactor in California [in 1989] has prevented an estimated 4,319 cases of cancer in the past 20 years, according to a new study released Thursday. Researchers studied the population of the state capitol [sic] of Sacramento, an area with more than 1.4 million people living within 25 miles of the Rancho Seco nuclear power plant.

Put aside the study’s methodology that I suspect an epidemiologist will soon debunk.  Instead, let’s take the authors at their word and focus on their three operative numbers: 4,319; 20, and 1.4 million.

The equation they form is more accurately expressed as 216 people per year who did not get cancer.

That’s it: 216.  Out of 1.4 million.  The annual cancer incident rate was thus reduced .0015 percent—15 ten-thousandths of one percent.  A statistical irrelevance.

And since everyone diagnosed with cancer doesn’t actually die of cancer, the mortality rate is even lower than the incident rate.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, comes this news from Great Britain:

Each year, an official estimate is made of the “excess winter mortality” — that is, the number of people dying of cold-related illnesses. Last winter was relatively mild, and still 24,000 perished. The indications are that this winter, which has dragged on so long and with such brutality, will claim 30,000 lives, making it one of the biggest killers in the country. And still, no one seems upset.

One reason so many Brits are dying of cold is the nation’s reaction to the 2,000 heat-related deaths during the 2003 summer heat wave.

The government’s chief scientific officer, Sir David King, later declared that climate change was “more serious even than the threat of terrorism” in terms of the number of lives that could be lost….

Since Sir David’s exhortations, some 250,000 Brits have died from the cold, and 10,000 from the heat.

So let’s recap.  Over 20 years, about 4,000 people may not have gotten cancer thanks to the closing of a power plant in California.  In Great Britain over that same period, about half a million people—nearly one percent of the population—have perished from the cold.

Both nuclear energy and “climate change” are concerned with power.  The former actually generates it.  The latter is about who holds it.


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