This post either has everything or nothing to do with investing and capitalism, but I can’t get the topic out of my mind so…
I want to ask you a couple of questions, but before I do that I want to tell you a short story. Last night I had a conversation with an old friend that lives in South Africa. He mentioned that he and his wife had been thinking of coming to Thailand on vacation, but the SA government had issued a travel warning after the riots in Bangkok, stating that it was unsafe. I present this for your perusal. Which do you think is the less-safe place?
I’m not going to answer the questions I put forth in this post for you, as my intention is not to persuade you either way, but merely to pose the questions and follow the thought process. Additionally, after receiving messages from many of you, it’s clear to me that we have some very intelligent readers here at CapitalistExploits.
How we come to think what we think, and its basis in fact or fiction, is very important. It’s important not only for investing and running businesses, but also in our everyday lives. Pick a subject – any subject, and consider why you hold the opinions on it that you do? Does what you think about the subject have a “rational” basis, and can it be proved?
Ok, with that lead-in I want to pose the question: What is the most dangerous form of energy in existence today?
It must be. Everyone is screaming about it. What about Chernobyl and Three Mile Island and Fukushima, and…
Below are some statistics, and since I like graphs which can give me an instant picture of the facts, I’ve included a graph on the same data too.
Energy Source Death Rate (deaths per TWh)
Coal – world average 161 (26% of world energy, 50% of electricity)
Coal – China 278
Coal – USA 15
Oil 36 (36% of world energy)
Natural Gas 4 (21% of world energy)
Solar (rooftop) 0.44 (less than 0.1% of world energy)
Wind 0.15 (less than 1% of world energy)
Hydro 0.10 (europe death rate, 2.2% of world energy)
Hydro – world including Banqiao) 1.4 (about 2500 TWh/yr and 171,000 Banqiao dead)
Nuclear 0.04 (5.9% of world energy)
This question isn’t meant to be a trick question. Does it seem reasonable that we should abandon the most dangerous form of energy production in favour of less dangerous forms?
Almost a year ago to the day the world was awash with concern over the Deepwater Horizon spill. What’s changed since then?
Second question: Why all these earthquakes, tsunamis and natural disasters? What’s going on?
The second question came about due to a conversations I had while sitting around a table of 12 adults recently. Discussion turned to the topic of earthquakes and tsunamis. Without exception everyone at the table excluding myself was of the opinion that there were definitely more earthquakes, tsunamis and natural disasters than before. My answer, not knowing factually whether there were more or less, was to define “before.” Always one to differentiate between fact and opinion, I suggested that it was my opinion that if we are to consider our own lifespan, then possibly what we are experiencing would be registering only the tiniest blip on the time-line of man’s existence on this ball of dirt; and, if we are considering the time-line of the planet’s existence, then we are registering an even more insignificant blip.
I followed this up by suggesting we find out. Surprisingly, nobody was particularly interested in finding out what the facts were. Opinions were firmly rooted in the attitude that we are experiencing “way more bad shit than before,” and solving the problem ranged from ensuring we be “closer to God,” to “the Mayans were right.” Probably the most useful of all however was, “I think we need to order some more drinks.”
Below I present to you some data, and then we’ll revisit the question again.
World Earthquakes, 1970-2010
|year||number of earthquakes in magnitude range||estimated deaths|
|8.0 to 9.9||7.0 to 7.9||6.0 to 6.9||5.0 to 5.9||5.0 to 9.9|
Data above found at http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/other/quake1.html
It makes me wonder about the power of marketing and how it influences people’s decisions. It also makes me wonder how much of what we think is due to “convenience.” It may be convenient to believe that nuclear energy is the most dangerous simply so that we can go back to watching American Idol; and, it may be convenient to think that we are all going to be led to the slaughter as Allah, God, Yahweh, Buddha or whoever/whatever takes their revenge on human kind. but, I do have to ask myself the question: Where do I get my ideas and opinions from, and are they based in fact or fiction?
“Sheep have two speeds: grazing and stampede.”
– Lt. Col. Dave Grossman