Sunday, September 25, 2005

Revisiting RMI's Bad Data

One of the things we try to do here at NEI Nuclear Notes is take a closer look at the claims made by many environmentalists and put them to the test. As I've mentioned several times before, my colleague David Bradish has taken the lead in this area and given a number of studies closer look. And one of the studies that David took apart was authored by the Rocky Mountain Institute, an organization run by Amory Lovins (for more on Lovins, click here).

Unfortunately, even if you debunk a study once, others with an ideological agenda will continue to use it to buttress their flawed arguments. Such was the case when the San Francisco Chronicle ran an op-ed piece by Mark Hertsgaard titled, "Nuclear Energy Can't Solve Global Warming." In that article, Hertsgaard dutifully mentioned RMI's flawed study as if it were fact -- something we made sure to mention right away.

But as we've seen before, it doesn't stop there. Hertsgaard has since re-posted the article on his personal Web site -- and made sure it was listed in such a way that nobody could leave a dissenting comment. Subsequently, it was picked up by another blogger who quoted it as if it were gospel.

Here at NEI Nuclear Notes, we don't ask for much, but if you're going to make claims about research and the data that they rely on, you should at least show the work -- we do that all the time. And in Hertsgaard's case, the re-print of his article ought to link back to the original RMI study -- something that would help folks come to a reasonable conclusion about its claims.

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1 comment:

Matthew66 said...

The SFC opinion piece was fairly predictable and boring. The emphasis on energy efficiency contains a fundamental flaw. If the average person, whether American, British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealander, French, Indian, Chinese, Singaporean etc.) consumes 50% less electricity by insulating their home, using low energy fluorescent lightbulbs etc. what will they do? Chances are they'll go out and buy another air conditioner, another computer, another TV etc. The thirst for electrical appliances has so far proved unquenchable. It is better to recognize that fact and to generate electricity using the most environmentally sustainable means possible. Or do the green ideologues plan to prohibit the development of new appliances, or only allow a select few to access them? Come on, the world is increasingly a consumer driven democracy, not some kind of ideological autocracy.