Death rate per watts, Nuclear, Oil, Coal. Classic chart exposes cognitive dissonance, and persistent self-denial…
Do you have an opinion about nuclear power? About the relative safety of one form of power over another? How did you come to this opinion?
Here are the stats. For every person killed by nuclear power generation, 4,000 die due to coal, adjusted for the same amount of power produced.
Vivid is not the same as true. It’s far easier to amplify sudden and horrible outcomes than it is to talk about the slow, grinding reality of day to day strife. That’s just human nature. Not included in this chart are deaths due to global political instability involving oil fields, deaths from coastal flooding and deaths due to environmental impacts yet unmeasured, all of which skew it even more if you think about it.
This chart unsettles a lot of people, because there must be something wrong with it. Further proof of how easy it is to fear the unknown and accept what we’ve got.
Via Seth Godin
Update: Nuclear waste is not an issue.
Update II: The reblog comments are incredible. Not one acknowledged or seems to have read the post. Nor, it seems, has a single reader clicked through to read the original post. Only one commenter, that I could tell, attempted to discuss the underlying facts. Instead, there were mostly “But” type replies that repeat the very myths this chart aims to debunk. What an incredible experience from my point of view, and a major lesson learned…
I just signed this WH petition. The White House will have to respond to it if it reaches the 25,000 mark.
Fracking, or drilling for natural gas, is as of 2005 exempt from a major environmental regulation called the Clean Water Act. Drillers pump a water/chemical mixture into the ground under pressure, which fractures certain rocks that hold natural gas. The gas is piped out and the water and chemicals remain in the ground. Here’s an excellent video explainer. And here are some background on how fracking became exempt from pollution controls. Basically, drillers got the exemption by claiming that the chemical mixture they use are proprietary information - an industry secret.
Now, there are about 500,000 fracking wells in the U.S.Tens of thousands are being opened right now. The petition asks that frackers show how their chemicals affect water in rivers, lakes, streams, wells, and aquifers.
I don’t think it’s controversial for the public, farmers, cities, beer and softdrink manufacturers, or anyone to know which chemicals are in their water. I know petitions are a pain. Please give this one your two minutes. Here’s the link:
The DC based Heritage Foundation is one of the most powerful, influential conservative think-tanks in the world. In fact, just last week, a U.S. Senator resigned his seat to work for Heritage.
Heritage mainly - and very successfully - lobbies politicians to cut taxes, incentivize private markets to replace nearly all areas of government, and to direct tax-payer money more towards national defense.
This is the formula, they argue, that will create more freedom for Americans.
They’re also very, very effective at criticizing environmental policy and the American education system, which, if we’re honest with ourselves, needs a bit of housecleaning.
Take their argument against providing relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy. They’re arguing that Obama’s emergency relief for Hurricane Sandy victims is far too expensive. The main argument is that private and local institutions and non-profits should step-up and help more than the Federal Government. And that the Obama administration should encourage local communities to deal with their own hazards. This as opposed to the government incentivizing rebuilding in dangerous areas in perpetuity.
Heritage might be right about this. As a thought experiment, suppose I choose to live on an earthquake fault. I’m aware of the fault. I’m also aware that the you, the taxpayer, will rebuild my home when there is a disaster. You, the taxpayer, also give me special discounts on home insurance, discounts that are not available to everyone else. When an earthquake destroys my home, who should rebuild it? Now apply this thought experiment to a city. The city knows it’s in a danger zone. The politicians, businesses, and residents all know that Americans will pay to rebuild the city, no matter what. Heritage argues that this system is biased, immoral, and plainly unfair.
You may disagree, but that thought experiment is a real issue that should be discussed.
Still, Heritage is the anathema of the progressive left, which believes a strong state equates to a stronger populace (e.g., stronger social systems). You can find endless arguments for-and-against the Heritage Foundation all over the web.
The above screenshot shows back-to-back blog posts, which I argue below, demonstrate the immoral, and therefore incongruous behavior by Heritage and many old-school conservatives. No-doubt, you will come across some form of this cognitive dissonance one day, if you haven’t already.
The top post is against clean energy investments paid for by you, the taxpayer (go here to explore why this is a climate change issue. Don’t forget to come back!:)). The bottom post argues that you, the taxpayer, should pay for the security of a rather rich, foreign government. One post is against taxpayer spending, the other is for more taxpayer spending.
My point in posting this screenshot is to call-out the immoral behavior of the Heritage Foundation. To my mind, these two posts demonstrate both the cognitive dissonance and the blatant ignorance of Heritage’s positions. Sorry to belabor the point, but just bear with me.
On the one hand, they argue, government should not invest in clean energy - it’s a waste of tax payer money and should be left to the markets. Yet on the other, in the very next post, they argue that tax payers should pay for the security state of a foreign nation, namely the very rich, military heavy UK government. Thus, cut tax spending in America, increase tax spending on the UK.
Heritage cannot have it both ways in this instance. It cannot be both for and against national security. Our military has argued for decades that America must ween off of oil from the Middle East (and foreign oil generally). A position supported by Heritage. Their argument, in short, is that “energy independence” would increase freedom and protection for Americans - exactly the mission of Heritage.
In fact, the Department of Defense has shown that American’s fuel-oil infrastructure both on the ground and around the world is not only dangerous and expensive, it regularly kills Americans. And the DOD argues that alternative energy is necessary to protect the United States.
Everyone knows that this argument is not new. Even Fox News kicks around energy independence and freedom. America needs to be energy independent and it will result in a safer, more prosperous America.
Heritage is lying - flat out lying - when it argues against investing in alternative energy. It cannot have it both ways.
I’m all for criticism. It makes for stronger, more accessible public policy. But, when the message is delivered by people that genuinely and regularly deceive the public, more harm is done than good. This behavior also prevents good and smart people from playing in their sandbox.
Heritage has to face the facts: The United States is not going to move backwards, to the 1950s. Ever. Americans are not going to embrace the new Tea Party. Nor libertarianism. Nor any other patriarchally formulated “ism.”
It’s time the Heritage Foundation shed its tired, old-dog ways and get with the program. To focus on modern-day conservatism. To enrich Americans, not divide them. Not to force Americans against each other, but to incentivize us to work together - after all, working together is our American “heritage.”
The Heritage Foundation should exist. They can do good for America. But they need to bullet-proof their positions by recognizing that this, this screen-shot above, is morally abhorrent behavior. To succeed and reach a wider audience (rather than the dying white-male demographic), they’ll need to invest in arguments supported by diverse research teams, rather than uni-polar, specialized, and biased studies and reports.
It is the moral thing to do.