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Japan Earth Science

"Severe Abnormalities" Found In Fukushima Butterflies 189

Posted by samzenpus
from the birth-of-mothra dept.
Dupple writes "The collapse of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant caused a massive release of radioactive materials to the environment. A prompt and reliable system for evaluating the biological impacts of this accident on animals has not been available. This study suggests the accident caused physiological and genetic damage to the pale grass blue Zizeeria maha, a common lycaenid butterfly in Japan. We collected the first-voltine adults in the Fukushima area in May 2011, some of which showed relatively mild abnormalities. The F1 offspring from the first-voltine females showed more severe abnormalities, which were inherited by the F2 generation. Adult butterflies collected in September 2011 showed more severe abnormalities than those collected in May. Similar abnormalities were experimentally reproduced in individuals from a non-contaminated area by external and internal low-dose exposures. We conclude that artificial radionuclides from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant caused physiological and genetic damage to this species."
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"Severe Abnormalities" Found In Fukushima Butterflies

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13, 2012 @03:11PM (#40976433)

    Uh . . . Poe's Law [wikipedia.org]. I have a feeling you're trying to be funny, but in the absence of a smiley or similar, I have no way of telling if you're a serious whacko nutcase.

  • Re:butterfly effect? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Creepy (93888) on Monday August 13, 2012 @05:37PM (#40977853) Journal

    ok, I'll bite. The fact is, there is no "clean" energy that can be built anywhere, and many have major flaws.
    Wind Turbines supposedly kill eagles and often requires long transmission lines that make them inefficient in the best of cases. Not viable everywhere.
    Solar is inefficient both in land and energy generated and also generally requires long transmission lines. Energy output varies by season in many areas.
    Hydroelectric Dams have a horrible safety record, especially during construction, mess up the earth's spin, and can affect wildlife that depend on rivers. Some of the better power generating models (ie pumped storage) depend on high elevation drops and some other power source (like Coal) to pump
    Tidal (wave) energy - many of the same construction dangers as Hydroelectric, only works for coastal cities
    Peat (mostly in Russia) - large CO2 producer, kills fish with runoff
    Biofuel - corn absolutely rapes soil nutrients, and other sources aren't much better. Most sources are subsidized because they aren't economical
    Geothermal - great if you live near steaming hot springs and are basically sitting on an inactive volcano, not so great if you aren't

    did I miss anything?

    There's nothing inherently wrong with nuclear fission, Fukishima was just using a dangerous reactor design without the failsafes built into later designs. I personally feel LWRs are dumb to build on an earthquake and tsunami prone island, but passively safe designs like the MSRE were never developed and only are being looked into again now by companies like FLiBe energy [flibe-energy.com]. This technology was successfully developed in the 1960s and then subsequently abandoned, and the official reason was to avoid fragmenting the industry (but we damn well know it was all about the money - the nuclear lobby existed to protect LWR patents and these were threatened by any other nuclear power technology).

    Fusion will require a very expensive containment vessel, and it will be a long time before it becomes efficient in any way (when and if they manage to get more energy out than they put in).

  • Re:Damage? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rmstar (114746) on Monday August 13, 2012 @05:43PM (#40977923)

    I have a pretty strong biology background (MD)

    Haha, that's a good one. Could have been:

    I have a pretty strong mathematics background (acountant)

    and been about as funny.

    But just FYI, wether a change is beneficial or not evolutionary is a rather subtle thing. Just consider sickle cell anemia [wikipedia.org], which sucks, but can protect you from malaria.

  • Re:Damage? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by sexconker (1179573) on Monday August 13, 2012 @07:35PM (#40978993)

    I'm not angry at all. The fact is that a massive number of genetic mutations in a population within a few generations from something like ionizing radiation or some other agent does not lead to greater fitness, but almost inevitably to lesser fitness; deleterious morphological changes (ie. malformed wings, eyes, internal organs) and increase in various cancers. Insects get an edge, in general, because fast breeding and lots of offspring can counterbalance such effects, and eventually, you will see some population that can return to some level of fitness, but that doesn't mean that dangerous doses of ionizing radiation is somehow potentially healthy, just because you get some potential survivors, any more than firing into a chicken coop with a shotgun and still having some chickens manage to survive means shotguns are potentially good for chicken survival. It's an absurd position.

    We're not talking about the generally intermittent nature of natural genetic changes that occur under normal conditions. We're talking about populations being blasted with radiation of sufficient strength to cause massive morphological changes within a generation or two. Evolution isn't some superhero comic book, and there are levels of radiation that make any population much less fit to related populations outside the environment that caused this.

    Until you show that the changes are hurting the mutated butterflies's ability to survive and reproduce you can't say the changes are "damage". Plain and simple. it doesn't matter how the mutation happened or how fast.

  • Re:butterfly effect? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by symbolset (646467) * on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @12:14AM (#40981029) Journal

    Geothermal - great if you live near steaming hot springs and are basically sitting on an inactive volcano, not so great if you aren't

    This is not true in general and not in Japan specifically because the entire region is geothermally active. New enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) can extract electrical energy from temperature deltas far lower than traditional dry steam plants. They don't even have to be on land: offshore subsea geothermal plants would work quite well especially with a cool flow of ocean water to supply the cold side of the delta. There is very little of the US [nrel.gov] that could not generate power [energy.gov] with EGS. Google mapped them for us. [google.org] Quote: "Potential for the continental U.S. exceeds 2,980,295 megawatts using Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) and other advanced geothermal technologies such as Low Temperature Hydrothermal. " This is 3/4ths of domestic consumption in 2011. We don't even have to look for them - typically EGS thermal sources are found incidental to other mineral exploration, and ignored even though most of the work is already done at that point.

    Since these resources are completely safe, nontoxic, natural, carbon-free electrical energy resources that cost even less than nuclear energy [wikipedia.org] it would be irresponsible to engage in any increase in risk or carbon generation whatsoever before all of these resources were fully exploited.

    As both baseload power and on-demand power EGS also offers the potential to mitigate the variability of other clean resources in a way that even nuclear can't. The persistent thermal resource in a given area is limited, but over a long time base so on surges in need can over-extract thermal energy for many years before diminishing returns diminish the resource locally for a while. This makes them the perfect complement to PV solar and others.

    There are other things we could do to improve the situation without the toxins of carbon or the risk of nuclear, like encouraging shallow geothermal heatpumps for home heating and cooling, and extracting electricity from the thermal deltas of manufacturing, but EGS is a really big bucket to serve our energy needs in a realistic way and your dismissal of it in this way is offensive so now I'm going to reciprocate.

    One chief objection to nuclear is that we have many hundred reactors worldwide of the Fukushima disaster designs. And every one has 40 years worth of spent fuel stored in an elevated pool [wikipedia.org] on top of the building that could be destroyed in some way - many times the design load of fission byproducts for these pools now, and dozens of times the fuel in the reactor vessel. After cooling for a time this fuel is supposed to be moved to safer dry cask storage. But casks cost money and the operators are skinflints and it's cheaper to have the pools recertified for more and more spent fuel packed tighter and tighter and not ever move any to the casks. But density is the bugaboo of nuclear fission: the tighter you pack these rods the more they encourage each other to fission. So now our national production capacity for these casks is 3% of the need, and one brick of C4 on the bottom of one of these pools could lead to a meltdown outside of the containment leading to a vast wasteland of hundreds of square miles of American Exclusion Zone [wikipedia.org] that can't be occupied for 100 years - among other things - for each of these reactors. Certainly there is evidence that this occurred at Fukushima to some degree. On that very day the dumb bastards trusted to operate our nuclear plants should have been cutting P.O.s for casks - and that

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