Saturday, 17 June 2017

Electric cars are overhyped.

I read here about a revolutionary new battery which:

  • "would allow electric cars to be recharged instantly" That is not true.
  • The energy density of batteries is still about 1% that of gasoline. So the engine and fuel of electric cars still weighs a lot more and the journey range is a lot less.
  • Modern electric cars only drive very well on a full charge. Once they lose a proportion of their charge they are much less responsive.
  • So there are 3 or 4 big issues with electric cars: (1) The long time taken to recharge during which the car is useless, (2) Short range, (3) Lack of infrastructure, (4) Low energy density of batteries compared to liquid fuels like gasoline. This causes the weight of the engine/fuel to be much higher. So lowering the efficiency.

    I discussed the prospects of electric cabs with one of the cab drivers who drives me on my daily journey to work. He thinks electric cars need to be a lot better to be useable as cabs. Meanwhile the local council want every cabbie to have an electric cab in 5 years. My cabbie thinks the local council don't give a toss whether the tech works or not. I think they just want to be seen to be 'saving the planet'.

    PS: The local council in question is St Albans in England. It's not a "socialist" council, nor is it Enviro-Stalinist. It is split between Tories and Lib Dems. The electric cab initiative is mostly Lib Dem - who are like a light green Green Party.

    "We are now consulting on the Councils proposals to introduce fully electric Hackney Carriages and Private Hire Vehicles to be licensed. The consultation will last for 12 weeks and will end on 15th June 2017,we hope to report the responses to the Licensing and Regulatory Committee on 18th July."

    Sunday, 4 June 2017

    How did the UN come to believe that 99.9% of substances/activities they'd tested might pose a cancer risk?

    The Campaign for Accuracy in Public Health Research wrote a recent article about how the UN's cancer agency IARC flat out refuse to say that coffee is safe to drink.

    For decades, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) warned coffee drinkers that their favorite beverage might cause cancer. Finally, the agency updated its assessment in June 2016 and downgraded coffee to Group 3 or “not classifiable as carcinogenic to humans.” While this decision is a step in the right direction, it raises new questions and concerns.

    First, IARC did not categorize coffee as Group 4, “probably not carcinogenic to humans,” even though there is considerable evidence supporting the health benefits of coffee consumption, including protection against Parkinson disease, liver disease, type 2 diabetes and liver cancer. Second, IARC’s decision to classify coffee in Group 3 rather than Group 4 represents a pattern of ignoring scientific evidence that supports certainty and the safety of products and behaviors. In fact, IARC has examined almost 1,000 agents over the past 30 years, only once classifying a substance as Group 4. IARC has explained this by saying that to be downgraded to Group 4, science would have to “prove a negative,” a statement that is neither reasonable nor useful to the goal of providing meaningful information to the public. In the end, IARC’s treatment of coffee provides another example of the urgent need to reform both the Agency and its processes.

    This blog is my attempt to explain how this peculiar state of affairs arose

    The idea that science should 'have to “prove a negative,”' seems to me to come straight out of what's now called 'precautionary thinking'. It also defies the scientific method. How did they do that? The IARC seem to have taken the precautionary principle, PP, and cubed it. The original PP said we should place a moratorium upon technologies which might have the potential to cause widespread environmental change (foreseen or unforeseen), posing a potential existential threat to life. The PP was the environment movement's alternative to cost benefit analysis, CBA. A kind of 'radical' risk analysis. Their arguments against GMOs, nuclear power, atmospheric carbon dioxide, and recently, nanotechnology, try to derive existential threats from otherwise benign technology. I sense the PP was only ever there to avoid CBA. Today enviros often call it 'precautionary thinking', with an implication that it's a way to looking at the world, rather than a principle to be applied in extremis (as the PP was supposed to be). I would not be surprised to find the IARC have never published or acknowledged a CBA of coffee. Please tell me I'm wrong.