With frowning eyebrows, a serious face, the rebellious French deputy with a telegenic pepper-and-salt mane grabs the microphone of the hemicycle with one hand, determined to do battle with the nuclear acceleration bill (adopted at first reading on March 21st). We are March 16, and Aymeric Caron, who first became known as a columnist for the show We are not in bedtakes the floor to defend the choice of our German neighbors to phase out nuclear power in order to increase their production of renewable electricity.
Rain of numbers to support : between 2005 and 2020, the share of renewable energies in electricity production in Germany would have increased from 11% to 44%. That of coal from 44% to 24%, and that of nuclear from 27% to 11%. As for its CO2 emissions, they would have fallen where, bad student, France would have stagnated in 2022. The proof, according to the LFI deputy, that our neighbors would be more virtuous in terms of energy.
If the figures are correct, this enumeration hides a more complex reality. Over the past fifteen years, the share of coal in German electricity production has effectively fallen in favor of renewable energies, but also that of gas. It should be noted that the geopolitical context caused by the war in Ukraine, which slowed down the importation of Russian gas, prompted the return of certain polluting installations (the share of coal in electricity production rose to 32% last year).
“Certainly, the use of gas is a lesser evil compared to coal, which emits twice as much carbon dioxide, but this is still superior to the performance of a nuclear fleet. Given that[Aymeric Caron] be careful not to highlight”, explains François-Marie Bréon, researcher at the Laboratory of Climate and Environmental Sciences, one of the laboratories of the Pierre-Simon-Laplace Institute, and president of the French Association for the scientific information (Afis). Another oversight on the part of the deputy: if the CO2 emissions linked to the production of electricity in Germany have fallen by more than 20% over the past fifteen years, those of France have been divided by two with comparable production. The only exception, which the deputy did not fail to highlight: 2022. Germany has effectively reduced its emissions there when those of France have remained stable. “But even if the emissions of the “Germany have decreased, they remain five to ten times higher than those of France per kWh produced”, recalls François-Marie Bréon. This practice has a name: cherry picking, or the fact of presenting data giving credence to his point of view by ignoring the cases which contradict it.
On March 2, the member went so far as to mention an Inserm study citing the cases, between 2002 and 2007, of 14 children with leukemia living less than five kilometers from a nuclear power plant, a number greater than the national average. Aymeric Caron concluded, using the words of the authors of the study, to a “possible excess risk” to live near a nuclear power plant. Here again, the elected official forgot to mention that the study in question did not establish any causal link with the fumes from the plant, but recommended continuing the analyzes and considering other factors, such as moving, family medical history, or pesticides, and also to compare data and methodologies between countries. He also omitted to specify that, since the publication of this work, another report published in 2021 by the Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN), covering the years 2014 to 2019, concluded that exposure to radiation ionizers is much more important by passing an X-ray or a scanner than by living near a power station.
Regarding these two episodes, fact-checkings du Figaro and France Info concluded that the data put forward by the deputy was correct, while pointing out biases in his reasoning. A half-hearted success that Aymeric Caron has nevertheless translated to its subscribers Twitter as being… proof that he was right (which some subscribers did not fail to note).
Outside the hemicycle, the deputy does not hesitate either to mobilize certain well-known scarecrows, ignoring the latest scientific advances. “Fukushima: 1 recognized dead worker but also several cancers on other workers. Studies that point to thyroid cancers. 2,500 premature deaths linked to evacuations around the plant (stress, suicides, etc.), a region still contaminated, more than 1 million tons of tritium contaminated water that we don’t know what to do with… And we were lucky: 80% of the radioactive particles were blown towards the ocean by the wind. a French city, that’s up to you. Me, it bothers me”, he replied to a user on Twitter on March 17.
For François-Marie Bréon, “talking about thyroid cancer in the case of Fukushima is purely and simply a matter of data manipulation”. Although a resurgence of thyroid cancers has indeed been observed since the disaster, numerous reports have been published. Including one from the UN dating from 2021, which for example noted that “no adverse effect on the health of the inhabitants has been documented”. Another, from the very serious United Nations Committee for the Study of the Effects of Ionizing Radiation (UNSCEAR) attributed the increase in the number of cases detected to the “ultrasensitive screening procedures” put in place in Fukushima. “The only valid element of his argument concerns the 100,000 people who had to flee their homes”, slices the specialist.
““Yes, that’s right: more than 15,000 liters of water to ‘make’ a simple roast beef!””
In addition to the nuclear file, which carries its share of cherry picking among the anti as well as the pro (thus the elected RN Jean-Philippe Tanguy pinned by France Info), Aymeric Caron is not at his first risky analogies. In 2016, he published Antispecist (Don Quixote), a plea for the integration of all sentient living beings into one family of moral consideration. Noting an “essential unity of all forms of life on earth” (all living beings being made up of the same types of atoms), the MP came to the conclusion that “when man despises a form of life which is external to him , he is therefore in reality attacking a part of himself” (p. 48). Certainly, living beings are made up of the same types of atoms, but not of the same atoms in the strict sense. This is why, despite having 60% of genes in common with bananas, human beings are not fruits. “It is fair to say that living beings proceed, whether human, animal or vegetable, from the same organic laws. But the conclusion that he draws from this observation – namely that eating another living being would almost amount to cannibalism – is fallacious. All living beings, even plants, feed on other living beings”, explains Peggy Sastre, scientific journalist at the Point.
15,000 liters of water for a kilo of meat
Even his favorite workhorse – the theme of agriculture – is no exception. In a column published in Release in 2018, Aymeric Caron wrote that “today, more than three quarters of the planet’s agricultural land is devoted to livestock, whether for food or for grazing. While the world’s population has doubled in the last forty years , vegetable food appears to be the only reasonable way to feed humanity”. In other words: for lack of being able to feed the world’s population from now on, it would be advisable to reduce or even eliminate livestock farming in order to free up areas. Again, the figure put forward reflects the correct order of magnitude. “But to call it that is misleading, because half of this land (tundra, steppes, savannahs, permanent grasslands and rangelands) cannot be cultivated anyway because they are non-arable areas that only animals can cultivate. livestock, especially herbivores can add value”, explains Jean-Louis Peyraud, doctor-engineer from Ensa in Rennes and project manager for the scientific director of agriculture at the National Research Institute for Agriculture, the food and the environment (Inrae).
In his other work No Steak (Fayard), Aymeric Caron also did not hesitate to adorn his reasoning with data expurgated of any nuance, even if it meant perpetuating certain myths… Thus the figure according to which 15,000 liters of water would be necessary to produce one kilo of meat – ” yes, that’s right: more than 15,000 liters of water to ‘make’ a simple roast beef!” And Jean-Louis Peyraud details: “In reality, 95% of this footprint corresponds to rainwater captured in the soil and evapotranspired, that is to say returned to the atmosphere in gaseous form by plants and which then returns to the water cycle. This cycle will continue even if there are no more animals.”
Autism and gluten
In 2019, the journalist launched with great fanfare a Web TV devoted to antispecism, Komodo.tv, with producer Stéphane Simon. In a report entitled “Autism: milk and gluten in accusation”, shared by Aymeric Caron on his social networks in 2020, several parents of children with autism put forward the theory that a diet without milk or gluten could improve the health of children with autism, based on “their experience”. Many works have been carried out on this subject, without achieving conclusive results in line with these assertions. Better: a randomized study, published in 2019 (a few months before the publication of this video) in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, even concluded that “there is no evidence, either against or in favor of gluten avoidance in the management of symptoms of autism spectrum disorders in children”. This did not prevent the journalist commenting on the report learnedly from asserting that if “in 2009, Afssa [NDLR : Agence française de sécurité sanitaire des aliments] had made public a report which advised against any gluten-free and milk-free diet for autistic children, the fact remains that the facts are there”. Today, the media is at a standstill.