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Fukushima Radiation Affecting US Tuna

Antonio Pasolini's picture
Energy Refuge

Antonio Pasolini is a blogger focused on renewable energy who is based between the UK and Brazil. He writes about alternative energy for Energe Refuge (www.energyrefuge.com).

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  • Aug 30, 2013 3:00 pm GMT
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fukushimaRecent reports have exposed what some people had predicted at the time of the Fukushima nuclear disaster: that radiation would spread. And it has, through fish that migrates between North America and Japan.

Reuters recently reported that “low levels of radioactive cesium from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident turned up in fish caught off California in 2011”. The statement was based on a recent report compiled by Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station.

Bluefin spawn off the Japanese coast and many migrate across the Pacific. The researchers analyzed tissue samples collected in August 2011, five months after the nuclear spill. All samples contained reactor byproducts cesium-134 and cesium-137 at levels that produced radiation about three percent higher than natural sources.

Most of the radiation leaked in April 2011. Radioactive cesium does not quickly sink to the sea bottom but remains dispersed in the water column, from the surface to the ocean floor. Fish can swim right through it and will ingest it through seawater or by eating contaminated organisms. Bluefin tuna typically have low levels of natural radiation such as potassium 40.

[Editors note: to put these figures and the relative risks they pose into context, visitors are encouraged to read this related article by TEC contributor Rod Adams as well as this article on the health risks from blue fin tuna at Deap Sea News.]

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Rod Adams's picture
Rod Adams on Aug 30, 2013

Do you have any concept of the size of the Pacific Ocean and the amount of water it contains? Do you understand that radioactive material is finite; it cannot be spread or diluted without reducing its concentration?

I will agree that the material is detectable to extremely low levels, almost every atom can be found. However, I will not agree that it is dangerous when dose rates or contamination levels are low.

If you want to learn more from a scientist’s observations, here is a pretty good article:

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/radio/program/pacific-bea...

 

Steve K9's picture
Steve K9 on Aug 30, 2013

As Rod points out radioactivity’s ‘problem’ is that you can actually detect a single atomic event.  

High-school Chemistry aside:

A typical amount of a material (a teaspoon of water) has on the order of 10^23 molecules, that is:

100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 .

If ONE of these molecules of water undergoes a beta decay, we could detect it.

Detectable does NOT equal dangerous.  Especially when it is a minute fraction of the radiation we are exposed to every minute of every day, from our environment here on planet Earth.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Aug 30, 2013

Antonio, I appreciate your encouragement for readers to read Rod Adams’ article on fearmongering. The conclusion is that merely presenting your story as news is fearmongering.

Yes, Fukushima is affecting PBFT. So what?

Paul O's picture
Paul O on Aug 31, 2013

Readers should be aware that Antonio is an environmental Bomb Thrower.He Makes Headline Statements that are deliberate half truths and ridiculous, and if he is “called” on his statements, he ignores the cricism and calmly proceeds to the next exaggerated headline.

Michael Keller's picture
Michael Keller on Sep 5, 2013

I’m puzzled by N. Nadir’s comments. The review of radiation impacts was pretty good, but the remarks about “acidification” of the ocean are well off-base. There is no way in hell the ocean can get acidic; the best it can do is get less alkaline. Further “man-caused-climate-catastrophe” is conjecture that is becoming increasingly more doubtful as the climate simply refuses to follow the dire predictions of the climate models.

David Newell's picture
David Newell on Sep 5, 2013

I have recently returned from Japan, where the Fukashima disaster is regarded as a national embarassment, as well as a terrible situation.

 

The inability to control the radioactive  waste water thruoghput of the site constitutes a clear and increasing danger to the ecosystem.  The “tuna” issue may or may not be anything but an attention getter, but other negative ramifications  will surely assert themselves over time.

 

The acidification of the oceans (relatively) by anthropogenic excess atmospheric CO2 is most dangerously affecting small shell-producing organisms, rather than the large predatory fish.

 

I am “pro nuclear”,  but the newer design reactors,  with “safe” failure modes must be employed, as we humans are all susceptible to the stupidity-based decisions such as those which gave rise to the Fukashima “black swan.”

 

Michael Keller's picture
Michael Keller on Sep 5, 2013

Try opening a chemistry book and figure out how much CO2 it would take to turn the alkaline ocean acidic. Not physically possible. The organisms in the ocean are being impacted by pollution and over fishing; CO2 has nothing to do with it.

Robert Bernal's picture
Robert Bernal on Sep 6, 2013

Actually, excess CO2 is actually being converted to carbonic acid on the oceans. It might not be much but they say it will be enough to affect the processes of calcium carbinate and shell fish.

Obviously, we need to find the least expensive, low carbon source of energy because wasting FF’s for combustion is sooo last century.

Robert "Bob" Mitchell's picture
Robert "Bob" Mitchell on Sep 6, 2013

I’m a bit disappointed that The Energy Collective decided to show it’s bias towards nuclear energy by inserting it’s Editor note into this post.  I followed the links and found both to be very bias articles that dismiss the concerns that a lot of scientists have about the increased exposure to radiation as the result of the Fukushima disaster.

While I’m not any kind of expert on radiation exposure, I am smart enough to realize that it’s not quite as cut and dry as the articles referred to attempt to make it.

From what I’ve read, no additional dose of radiation is “safe” and while some exposures are unavoidable and others are deemed worth the risk, even a small increase can have negative health effects for some.  And while that number may be small, it’s still a major bummer if you happen to be the one that ends up with cancer because their lunch put them over a threshold that they wouldn’t have gone over if it hadn’t been for the fact that nuclear power has a failure rate!

Another problem I have with the media’s focus on just the Pacific Blue Fin Tuna and the small additional dose of radiation that it now likely to give you is the fact that while this might not be a problem for the average American who doesn’t rely upon fish as a staple of their diet, there are all kinds of people who do. So, while my twice a year eating of a tuna steak might only increase my odds of getting cancer by a small amount many times less than an average dental xray, it would make a difference if I ate that tuna for my lunch every day! 

Another thing to consider is how ingesting radioactive material affects your body as opposed to a one shot dental xray.  From my understanding, when you eat radiation it tends to be deposited in different parts of your body depending upon which particular type of radiation you are talking about.  And depending on where it ends up (as well as it’s particular 1/2 life), it can have different effects upon the body and even the body of the person who ingested it’s off spring.  Cesium for example tends to be deposited uniformly over the entire body which leads to it’s contribution to genetic changes.

Here is an interesting article on ingesting of radiation that I found that was done for the National Institute of Health http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1373387/?page=1

So, all together, I don’t know that you can simply sweep the effects of this nuclear disaster (and nuclear power over-all) under the table.

 

Bob “The Clean Energy Guy” Mitchell

 

Robert Bernal's picture
Robert Bernal on Sep 6, 2013

Deniers deny because of the politics, not because of the science. I deny the politics as well (because NOTHING is being done about it other than plans to make energy MORE expensive). I see it as politics = limitation. Limitation is based on excess regulations and fear and it is this fear that would allow the (sooo last century) combustion of FF’s to continue. Why, because if we build up massive renewable energy, it still will require massive amounts of fossil fuels (especially in a growing world).

Excess CO2 is exactly that. Excess anything will cause changes. Who can say it is OK to alter the very biosphere of an entire planet (no one!). CO2 is an infrared absorber, thus heating up the biosphere, from which the oceans are moderating. But the oceans can only suck in so much heat for so long.

Sure, there were times when Earth had more ppm CO2, but these were also times of ocean anoxic events and mass die offs (probably due to all the methane hydrates being released from the deep ocean as they warmed). The very air became poisonous. I’m not saying this will happen soon, just saying that it is THEE end result of too much excess CO2.

Thus (since we are talking about nuclear) we need to just “get on it” and mass produce molten salt reactors (or LFTR) regardless of the little 5 year research lag! Such are meltdown proof and can not radiate the surroundings past the facility (the fish, either).

Robert Bernal's picture
Robert Bernal on Sep 6, 2013

I say, just get on it and start mass producing the molten salt reactor ASAP!

Eric Lane's picture
Eric Lane on Sep 7, 2013

I am very much opposed to nuclear power.  To the right wing nutties and pro nuclear wackos that makes me an environmentalist, as if that is the highest insult possible.  Unless you are making a living working in the nuclear industry, it defies logic to be pro-nuclear.  The cost of building a nuclear power plant is astronomical compared to every other type of energy source, clean or dirty.  If you start building one today, you will be lucky if its finished ten years from now, if it hasn’t cost ten times more than estimated, and if it is even functioning.  When you include all true costs, nuclear is beyond comprehension as a viable energy alternative.  It takes billions of dollars to decomision an existing nuclear plant.  Storage is extremely expensive and long term.  To believe that society can protect nuclear waste for 100 years much less 1,000 years or more, is such arrogant ignorance it’s beyond humorous.  Black Swans would occur constantly if civilization became dependent on nuclear power.  So Antonios editorial is more about what is really going on at Fukushima than the blah blah of pro-nuclear fanatics.  Nuclear is dead.  In the next 20-30 years, fossil fuels will be dying if not dead.  The fact that someone at this site posted that climate change isn’t happening shows to what degree some folks can live in a bubble of their own making.  

The point of Antonio’s editorial is to point out that radiation from Fukushima is spreading in all directions.  No one knows how much and how far and what the impact will be.  That’s the beauty of nuclear waste, there is always plausible denial because the consequences can take years to manifest.  The pro nukies will always argue that the cancer came from eating too much rhubarb not the nuclear accident down the road.  I hope Fukushima puts the nail in the coffin of nuclear power, which is really about keeping centralized energy control than anything to do with common sense and cost control.   

Robert Bernal's picture
Robert Bernal on Sep 7, 2013

It defies all logic to not improve on nuclear. Have you considered what it will take to power a growing planetary civilization AND to clean up the excess CO2 mess? Also, have you searched LFTR and the other molten salt reactor designs? Have you realized what excessCO2 will do to the biosphere?

We do have to transition to an even more abundant source than fossil fuels.

Please do the numbers on a “solar powered world” or a wind one, etc. And research the different reactor designs… I believe you will come to the same conlusion, that we don’t need to cover 400,000 sq miles of land for solar (including for its storage for powering 7 billion, not just 2 or 3 billion, as the world does now) which requires NG backup, and that we don’t have to expand the conventional old fashioned nuclear you are talking about. No, there is a better nuclear design. We might have to (re) develop it, but in the end, that is the ONLY sure way to save the biosphere, and live to see it!

 

Paul O's picture
Paul O on Sep 8, 2013

Eric,

 

If I actually belived Antonio’s fearmongering rubbish and hype, I’d be weary of Nucler power too.  Let me say this, 1) People whosupport Nuclearpower are not enthralled with 2nd Generation plants that can even meltdown, they are a sign of laziness and lackofprogress. 2) Radiation from Fukushima is not Immortal and or Infinite. It is being diluted to match background radiation levels or levels that are comparable to air travel, exposure or less.

However, why the H@ll are you linking Nuclear Power to the Right Wing?  The power in the atom is not political or religious, it is Nature. Nuclear Fission is what keep the Earth Hotfor Geothermal Energy.

The Realproblem asI see it is that people like you and Antoniomake false connections, listen to biased groups and sources, and think with your emotions.

If you were a logical and rational thinker I doubt you’d have said anything about “right wing nutties and pro nuclear wackos”. What it is that make some so-called environmentalists (we all depend on the environment), unable tocalmly decipher the situation beats me.

 

Paul O's picture
Paul O on Sep 8, 2013

I don’t see any Bias here. Readers are now able to see and read conflicting opinions and conclusions. This saves the website from having to sort through claims of incompetence and deliberate disinformation from Antonio, along with possible ensuing flaming and counter-flaming.

 

TEC should not be pro or against anything whether it’s renewables or nuclear, and they are not.

 

The problem as I see it,  is from so-called renewables advocates who think that their mission in life is to find the worst possible way they can to attack nuclear power or put out  false or misleading anti-nuclear spin. Witness the comment by Eric in this very thread who called supporters of Nuclear Power, quote, “right wing nutties and pro nuclear wackos “

Honestly, What is it with Renewables advocates that fills them with the Need to be Aggressively anti-nuclear (all forms of Nuclear), and compels them to assume Nuclear power support is political (right wing)?

Renewables should stand on their own merrit without needing to spin and inaccurately vilify other sources, beside GW causing sources?

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Sep 8, 2013

“...cost of building a nuclear power plant is astronomical compared to every other type of energy source

This is an often repeated mantra of the anti-nuclear movement, however, it is not what is being reported by less biases sources.  For example, the US DOE’s EIA, which gets its data from the utilities that actually buy or build these new power plants, reports that electricity costs about the same from most technologies (nuclear, biomass, geothermal, hydro, and most on-shore wind are all within about +-10% of coal); the notable outliers are natural  gas which is much lower, and solar and off-shore wind which are much higher.  (The EIA does not tell us what solar or wind would cost if energy storage were included, but if it did, the number would be much higher than the cost of nuclear.)

Note that best estimates of plant decomissioning and waste storage cost are already included in the estimated levelized cost of nuclear power.  Feel free to make up your own estimates, but know that no banker, government regulator, or utility executive will believe you over the EIA.  (Note that the levelized cost discounts future expenses, so attempts to close nuclear plants before their planned service lives elapses are likely to result in in-adequate decomissioning funds.)

Contrary to the claims by opponents of nuclear power, Fukushima proved 1) nuclear accidents are nowhere near as dangerous as fossil fuel accidents and routine fossil fuel operations (there have been no fatalities due to radiation from  Fukushima, and no detectable cancer outbreaks), and 2) the nuclear industry is competent and understands safety: addressing the failure mode in the Fukushima plants, station-blackout, was a major design objective for newer Gen III plants, and all new plants are much better protected.

This notion that “any amount of radiation is dangerous” is a reasonable hypthesis which completely falls apart as soon as we notice that the very planet we live on, the food we eat, and the sky above us all expose us to radiation.  We can easily detect health effects from majore threats like pollution from fossil fuel use.  If low level radiation were as dangerous, we’d detect its effects too, but we don’t.  Even Chernobyl didn’t produce any measurable cancer outbreaks (other than easily treatable thyroid cancers, caused by easily managed highly-localized contamination in milk from short-lived radio-iodine, which the Soviet government choose to mis-manage, and which was none-the-less not as harmful as routine pollution from the coal industry). 

However well meaning that opponents of nuclear power may be, they are simply wrong: their predictions that nuclear is more dangerous than fossil fuel have not matched 50 years of real-world experience.  The result of their efforts is more fossil fuel use, more fossil fuel accidents, worse air pollution, more CO2 emissions, and greater harm to human health and the environment.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Sep 8, 2013

Whether you are Pro or Anti Nuclear, the relative hazard of leaking radioactive water should be assessed based the data.

Rod Adams has posted this article clarifying the 1800 mS/h measurement.  Apparently, this was an incorrect translation from Bq/cm^3.  Bq, or Becquerels are nuclear disintegrations per second.  The units of mSv and Sieverts are supposed to be converted to biological equivalent dose (based on gamma equivalent: 1 Sv= 1 J/kg), and a few thousand mSv would be fatal.  The measured radioactivity was beta rays at 70 micron distance, which don’t penetrate the skin or a meter of air or a millimeter of water.  So the sample in question could not have produced a reading of 1800 mS/h in free air, and it definitely was not lethal, at a modest distance, and could only produce skin burns on direct contact. 

Capt D has not shown the the amount of radioactivity released from the tanks was enough to produce a safety hazard for people swimming past the plant, much less in the waters near a different city.

Eric Lane's picture
Eric Lane on Sep 9, 2013

Nathan, solar and wind are today less expensive than nuclear and dropping.  We can argue all day long about nuclear power but here is my bottom line argument.  We are at a point in history when we have to make decisions about our future energy needs and how to supply them.  Fossil fuel burning has shown us that in barely a century fossil fuel burning is thereatening human existence.  What is the point of supplying energy that ultimately kills the very people who use it?  Nuclear power has many short and long term drawbacks if one removes their blinders.  First is uranium mining.  It’s a filthy business and most of it is in 3rd world countries.  Second, the cost of building nuclear power plants, petite onr non-petite.  The waste created.  The Black Swans.  The long term storage.  And so on.

Now, what happens if we take our creative energy and turn it to solar, wind, and other types of sustainable energy production?  The cost is dropping so fast on solar panels that many companies are unable to compete with such low prices.  Short term and long term, humanity is not threatened by accidents or explosions.  To my way of thinking, this is just common sense.  I don’t understand why this is so problematic.  Unless, of course, you are making your living in the nuclear industry.  Then you have a vested interest in its advancement and are not viable as a neutral authority on the subject of what are the best sources of energy production. 

Eric Lane's picture
Eric Lane on Sep 9, 2013

Paul, I don’t read Antonio’s column as fear mongering.  I see it as just stating a fact.  Why does this make it fear mongering?  Radioactive Tuna are being found off the California coast. 

Second, have you considered the costs involved with the Fukushima disaster?  Was that considered when the plant was built?  When you calculate true costs of nuclear power?  All the people that have had to be resettled?  I doubt any government or people would invest in nuclear knowing that this type of occurrence could occur.  And let’s remember, Fukushim radiation levels are on top of naturally occuring radiation, a very big difference.

When I say right wing nutties I mean people who deny climate change is occuring.  These are usually Tea Party folks with nut cracker brains.  But I would further argue that you will find very few progressive or liberal folks that support nuclear power for reasons I have posted frequently here.  Politicians are very often beholden to their financial supporters so there will be some Democrats who will support nuclear for mercenary reasons. 

Finally, I find it quaint that people who oppose nuclear power are, in your view, people who listen to biased groups and sources, think with their emotions and make false connections.  What is it with right wing nutties and pro-nuclear folks that makes them think they know what truth is and that they are absolutely right?  Nuclear power was born in secrecy, grew up in deceit, and lives on lies.  What part of this don’t you agree with?

Paul O's picture
Paul O on Sep 9, 2013

Eric,

You are proving my point. How could you read Antonio as fact when you have not considered this:-

http://theenergycollective.com/rodadams/268236/another-update-highly-radioactive-water-leaks-fukushima

And again, with the insults ? Do you may have anger management issues, Eric?

Eric Lane's picture
Eric Lane on Sep 9, 2013

Paul, again, Antonio reported what was going on.  Why are you having such a hard time with this?  I read your link and the author also agrees with Antonio that nuclear radiation has spread.  His argument was that we shouldn’t get our panties in a bunch over it.  I can accept this on the miniscule scale.  But take a look at the Daiichi nuclear power plant and what is going on there and I don’t think you can just dismiss it as a happenstance occurence with no consequences. 

Since I read your link, do me the favor of reading this link: http://www.rmi.org/Knowledge-Center/Library/2009-09_FourNuclearMyths and give me your thoughts on it.  I’d be curious to know your opinion. 

 

Paul O's picture
Paul O on Sep 9, 2013

Eric,

 

1) Antonio indeed reported what  WAS (past tense) going on……(that was, Two years ago In 2011 only five months after the nuclear accident in Fukishima), and he uses it in a way that seems to depict that it is relevant and continuing to happen today.   Antonio’s Headline states,  Fukushima Radiation Affecting US Tuna

This would normally have been deemed by me as an inconsequential oversight or inexactness, had he not had a track record.

2) Antonio links to a Chicago Tribune web-Page dated to May 2012,  which reported a  sampling of fish that took place one year before the Chicago Tribune post, that means that  the sampling was done in  August 2011.  Antonio then neglects to mention that the radiation that had been found in 2011 was not damaging to people, …..as per his own link

This perfectly highlights what I said previously:

Quote,:- ………” Radiation from Fukushima is not Immortal and or Infinite. It is being diluted to match background radiation levels or levels that are comparable to air travel, exposure or less.

and….

Quote:-………”problem asI see it is that people like you and Antonio make false connections, listen to biased groups and sources, and think with your emotions.”


 Antonio’s Headline stated:  Fukushima Radiation Affecting US Tuna

Is this true, and how does it affect US Tuna (Today)? There is no way to make that judgement based on what Antonio has “reported” . Even way back in 2011, the radiaton found in the fish sampling was 3% above background….WOW! a whole 3% above background.

I wonder what we might find today, But I can bet you it would be much lower than 3%. 

As per Antonio’s link,  “Cesium 134 decays quickly, with a half-life of two years.” That means in a worst case scenario, what was 3% in 2011 would be 1.5 % in 2013, assuming the worst. It should very very much lower today because the  ceasim would be far more dilute by now, and and what is present would have only half its original radiocativity after 2yrs.

Rod Adams’ post is relevant because it shows how anything relating to Nuclear power is loaded with such oversight and inexactness from people who are anti-nuclear as demonstrated by Antonio.

Robert "Bob" Mitchell's picture
Robert "Bob" Mitchell on Sep 9, 2013

Paul:  I’ve been reading posts on this site for a couple of years now and I’ve never seen an “editor’s note” directing people to articles written by opposing points of view.  While Rod seems to be very knowledgeable on the topic of nuclear energy, he also seems to be anything but objective.  The second article that they linked to seemed to be pretty much just propaganda.

I personally, and as an advocate for renewable energy, am not totally against nuclear energy,  IF IT CAN BE SAFELY!  (which I’m convinced that it can’t be with the current design of nuclear power plants – based upon the established failure rate of nuclear power plants).

I also have some major concerns about uranium as a fuel source due to the environmental costs of mining it, as well as it’s limited economically recoverable supply (about 80 years based upon current consumption)

Now, there might be something to be said for future, experimental designs for nuclear power plants that utilize other fuel sources and have built in shut down features that would prevent catastrophe’s like fukishima, but these designs always seem to be “just down the road”. 

Regarding Eric’s quote about “I can’t say that I totally disagree with him.  While I’m not all that into calling people names based upon their educated and rational opinions and beliefs, I don’t know that a lot of pro nuclear people are all that rational in their discounting of the dangers involved with nuclear power (at least current generation nuclear power).

I would also suspect that he is right in saying that conservative people would tend to support nuclear power more than liberal people.  This is borne out by a Gallop poll from March of 2010 that stated that 23% more Republicans supported nuclear power than democrats.

As far as these people being “wackos or nutties”, I’m sure that some are, but that most are simply placing more or less weight on certain facts. 

An example of this, related to this article, is the health effects of eating Pacific Blue Fin Tuna.  While some have discounted the danger to the point of saying that it doesn’t exist in practical terms, I and others have pointed out that even using the numbers put out by the pro-nuclear side (I think that it was something like an increase in cancer occurences of about 2 per 100,000???) that it equates to an additional 1,600 hundred cases of cancel (many of which will be fatal).  

So, while I might think that this is unacceptable, you or other pro-nuclear people might consider 1,600 people, who otherwise wouldn’t have gotten cancer, getting cancer is acceptable?  I also think that pro-nuclear people tend to not consider intricate details such as the fact that these statistics (such as the 2 per 100,000 additional cases of cancer due to the Fukishima disaster) isn’t going to be felt uniformly throughout the world – people who live on Pacific Islands and who eat fish as a larger percentage of their diet will be disproportionately affected.

Lastly, I’m going to turn your last statement on it’s ear….that is, “Nuclear Power should stand on their own merrit (sic) without needing to spin and inaccurately vilify other sources, beside GW causing sources?”

As an educated person who has a background in energy and who has accepted that for the foreseeable future that we can’t maintain our western lifestyles without nuclear power, I don’t know that nuclear power meets your standard (at least not in the long run with currently available technologies)

 

Bob “The Clean Energy Guy” Mitchell

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Oct 6, 2013

Michael, one definition of “acidic” is “having the properties of an acid”. Concentrations of carbonic acid in seawater have increased in recent decades as a direct result of increased atmospheric CO2, and it’s killing marine organisms.

This phenomenon is backed by thousands of peer-reviewed articles and books, although perhaps slightly fewer than those claiming the Earth is round.

http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=ocean+acidification+shells&hl=en&as_...

David Newell's picture
David Newell on Oct 9, 2013

Shall we discourse about the difference between alkalinity and pH,

or try to understand the intent of expression. 

 

the ocean is becoming “less basic”, the pH is lowering,

and crustacean’s ability to make shell is becoming imperiled.

(along with many other ramifications..)

 

Wait:  is it your contention that a failure to have an excellent correllation

to a model of a multi variate complex chaotic system constitutes the abrogation of it’s thesis?

 

conjecture?  surely you jest!

 

regards,

David

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