Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Media and Statistics - why is the MSM so poor at reporting the news?

I was watching NY1, a local news channel in NYC, and heard the following report. [NY1: City Lags in Bike Commuting]

A new study finds other cities are leaving New York in the dust when it comes to bicycling to work.

OK, I think, that's interesting as I've noticed a big increase in New Yorkers bicycling. Other cities must have really stepped up their game. Then comes the next statement:

Researchers at Rutgers and Virginia Tech found the percentage of New Yorkers commuting on two wheels barely changed from 1990 through 2009, from 0.3 percent to 0.6 percent.

Perhaps we've lagged behind but it's not as if the percentage barely changed - the percentage of New Yorkers cycling to work has doubled in 20 years (0.3 - 0.6). And, since NY's population has increased from 7.3 million to 8.3 million, from 1990 to 2009, one can clearly say that the population of New Yorkers commuting to work by bicycle has more than doubled in the last 20 years.

Furthermore as NY is a walking based city and we have a lot more combined commercial/residential areas than we had 20 years ago I would bet that the population walking to walk has increased as well.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Nuclear Power is Safe

I’ve never been a fan of nuclear power for a whole slew of reasons. These reasons often times boils down to the fact that nuclear power is uneconomical as it relies on government subsidies to survive: for example the transportation and long-term storage of waste and the limited liability in the case of an accident. Safety, as regards the long-term storage of waste, was also a major concern and the immediate safety of the nuclear power plants was for me, as for a lot of people, a nagging concern. I think that the Japanese experience has put that particular concern to rest.

In this case a 40-year old nuclear reactor built with what would now be considered a primitive design gets hit by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake; slammed with a resulting tsunami which knocked out the back-up generators; followed by an explosion due to the buildup of hydrogen gas; and yet the core remains intact and contained. I still have the aforementioned problems with nuclear power but I think we can say that the plants themselves can take a beating and remain safe.

Even if there are further problems with the reactors I would think them safe. Why? Because there are many areas in the world where 9.0 earthquakes simply don't happen (often enough). In the Japanese case the nuclear reactor handled a major earthquake. It appears that all the resulting problems are due from the back-up generator going down. Would placing the generator up on a 20 or 30 foot platform have solved the problem?