Friday, November 27, 2009

Getting It Wrong

The New York Times reports this morning that the corn belt, in response to Congress's infinite wisdom, will probably produce more ethanol than can be used in gasoline. That's because the country is using less gasoline because of the recession. Pete Davis reports that the politicking on what to do with that excess ethanol has already started. He adds
In my Capitol Hill experience, lawyers tend not to accept the constraints that seem incontrovertible to economists.
Or to scientists, I might add.

Seems like there's a lot of that going around. Here's a lovely little multimedia piece from the New York Times. There's a lot I like about it, but the science just isn't there. It's a feel-good piece. Even if all the (implied) science in it is correct, which it probably isn't, so what? Perhaps I'm being too hard on Maira Kalman, but all she does is raise questions that are already out there. And um, picking those natural mushrooms in the pine needles deprives the plants of their spore-spreading mechanisms to make more of them.

Or India wants to open the Bhopal site as a memorial to the victims of the explosion there that spread toxic chemicals through the area. The government claims that the site is safe, which is within the realm of possibility: most of the deaths and health damage were from gases that are now dissipated. And, on the other side of things, that white streak in the soil is not "pure mercury," which is metallic-looking and liquid. Is it a mercury compound? Only sampling will tell us for sure.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R, TX) calls for universal health care coverage without realizing that's what she's doing.

And I guess this one really doesn't surprise me, although the fact that these companies keep doing the same sorts of things does. But I would like to know more about the concerns of the British nuclear safety regulators on the new French and American reactor designs. But then we have this:
The HSE said it might allow so-called exclusions over some of its concerns under which it would allow construction to proceed on the understanding that the problems would be addressed later.
which is probably what the companies are depending on. Almost certainly, Hyperion is depending on something like that in its enormous shift in reactor design. If there's going to be a renaissance in nuclear power, the companies have to get more responsible than this.

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