Monday, 19 October 2009

Common misconceptions

Billions of us live in a world of instant mass communication where news and new ideas, new technologies and ideologies flow faster than could ever have been imagined just a few short years ago.

I am sure that one of the reasons the world fell into recession so quickly in the last couple of years and why we appear to be coming out of it equally rapidly compared to the Great Depression of the late 20's and 30's is the speed that the bad and now the good news has flowed around the globe. One of the other reasons is surely that global economic power is shifting from the western hemisphere to Asia. India and China in particular have emerged relatively unscathed from the recent economic meltdown caused by American Corporate greed and ignorance.

This communication revolution has good and bad points. The development of news and I use that term loosely has generated a need for instant gratification. If something happens in the world we want to know about it now. As perception is reality then those first images, those first comments and ill informed analysis are the ones that stick-even though in the longer term they are proven to be nothing but bull#$it.

Combined with the ability for all of us to transmit all that we know or imagine to be the truth at the press of a button and beam our random thoughts in living colour to the rest of the world no matter how ill informed the world is being dumbed down by a deluge of half truths, fantasy and misinformation.

Not only has the web and all its offshoots, blogs, tweets, and every organisation that has the nohow to build their own 21st century soap box made all the news that is fit to print available to all it has also made all the news that isn't fit to print available to everyone.

Traditional media organisations that have had the resources to actually investigate what is going on in the world seem to be a dieing breed. Cut off at the knees by falling advertising revenue and falling subscriptions. The web is the way of the future but the traditional print media don't seem to be able to make this work for them yet. Maybe subscriptions are the way to go. People will always pay for quality product even in a world that expects to get most things for free. But the technology to deliver the product electronically to the kitchen table doesn't exist yet.

Papers (of the news type) like books won't die completely until there is an electronic medium that is as convenient and portable as they are. Something that can deal with the rigours of spilt milk and being shoved into a pocket to be read later.

But I'm getting off the track. This blog was supposed to be about popular misconceptions and misdirections in part perpetuated by the modern media. So here we go.

NZ's ACC and motorcycle registration costs
In the last few days the ACC (New Zealand's no fault accident insurance scheme which is funded by things like vehicle registration costs) has announced an increase in registration costs for large motorcycles as the owners of big bikes are over represented in accident statistics. There can be no argument about this as it is true-just as it there can be no argument that most accidents involving motorcycles are caused by four wheeled vehicles. However, people on bicycles are equally as vulnerable and probably as equally represented in accident statistics. A broken cyclist is going to cost the same to put back together as a broken motorcyclist. The difference is motorcycle has to be registered, it's rider licensed and he pays various user charges. A push bike however is green and gets away with anything. But in a user pays world shouldn't they be paying their fair share?

Global warming
The world is warming up based on recent history. But then the world has also been through a recent cooling period. I read recently that the French Revolution was in part caused by famine that was related to a series of wet and cold winters. The world was apparently cooler in medieval times than at the height of the Roman Empire.

I believe that we should do all we can to protect our environment and reduce the impact on mother nature of our activities. We should look for cleaner greener ways of doing things but I don't believe that the activities of mankind are solely to blame for global warming. If we can't predict the weather accurately suggestions that we are the cause of global warming are supposition.

Oil is running out
Oil is the driving force of our economies. It allows people like me to live in the suburbs and drive to work, enjoy motorsport and indirectly provides me with a living. Of course oil is running out -it is a non re-new able resource. But I can't image that it will run out and be priced out of reach for most of us in my life time. (Hopefully I am not wrong). Look at a map of the world or a globe and have a think about where most of today's supplies come from and then see how big the rest of the world is. We just haven't found it all yet. I am sure that not too far down the track someone is bound to come up with some new form of energy that will make the need for oil redundant.

Electric cars, fuel economy and sustainability
I am not sure that the replacement for the internal combustion engine is going to be the hybrid or electric cars being developed today. What is sustainable about building vehicles that need batteries to run? They are more expensive to build and well we're going to need more power stations to generate the electricity to power the batteries.What are they going to run on? Then what do you do about disposing of the batteries when they are exhausted?
And as somebody pointed out to me the other day what is sustainable or green about ditching the older vehicle and buying a new fuel efficient model? Sure it might use less fuel and spit out slightly less CO2 into the air -but what about all the cost of actually producing that new vehicle in comparison to keeping the old one on the road until it is no longer economic to repair?

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