How Nuclear power hurting the environment?

How Fear of Nuclear Power Is Hurting the Environment?

The dependence on fossil fuels in emerging economies is partly responsible for the declining percentage, on the other hand, the recent global trend away from nuclear is also another significant factor.

However, clean energies are neither sufficient nor reliable to offset the shortfall created due to closing nuclear plants. The reason is simple, nuclear power is unpopular!

Many countries are taking nuclear plants offline due to the fact that such plants strike fear to general public. Just imaging nuclear meltdowns, nuclear waste and nuclear weapons.

Nuclear – Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Yes, that’s pretty scary image.

Public resistance to atomic energy delays its progress. To surmount climate change, society must view the challenge as an attitudinal problem, not a technical one.

Clean energy production is increasing in absolute terms but on total energy production, clean energy has fallen from 36% to 31% in 2013. Although clean energy is increasing in absolute terms, its share of total energy production fell from 36% in 1995 to 31% in 2013.

Emerging economies’ growing dependence on fossil fuels is partly responsible for clean energy’s declining influence, but another significant factor is the recent global shift away from nuclear energy, which dropped by 7% between 2006 and 2014.

For instance, the United States closed four nuclear power plants in recent years and replaced their output primarily with fossil fuels. Clean energies are neither sufficiently abundant nor sufficiently reliable to offset the shortfall. Even California, a solar-energy pioneer, derives just 10% of its power from solar panels. Once darkness falls, the state relies on caches of fossil fuels to power homes.

The world is actually at risk of losing four times more clean energy than we lost over the last 10 years. In other words, we’re not in a clean energy revolution; we’re in a clean energy crisis.

It’s time to revisit nuclear energy. According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, nuclear energy releases less carbon emissions than all other sources, bar wind energy. Moreover, atomic energy is reliable. A fully functional power station can produce energy 92% of the time. Alas, nuclear power is unpopular, and many countries are closing plants because their citizens harbor three common fears:

  1. Nuclear meltdowns – Engineers are designing new plants – including thorium molten salt reactors and high-temperature gas reactors to address safety concerns. Yet according to The Lancet, a renowned medical journal, nuclear already is “the safest way to make reliable power.” The World Health Organization’s findings indicate that most damage from accidents comes not from radiation but from human error due to panicking.
  2. Nuclear waste – If all the nuclear waste the United States ever generated were stacked on a football field, it would reach only 20 feet high. Nuclear waste is limited and contained. Meanwhile, fossil fuels emit air pollution that kills seven million people annually and contributes to global warming.
  3. Nuclear weapons – No country has ever progressed from generating nuclear power to building nuclear warheads, though the reverse is true: Several nations have destroyed their nukes and used the plutonium to fuel nuclear power plants.

Ultimately, public resistance to atomic energy impedes its progress. To surmount climate change, society must view the challenge as an attitudinal problem, not a technical one.

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(Big Data) The Human Insights Missing from Big Data

The Talk Note

In ancient Greece, people asked the Oracle of Delphi life’s greatest questions. She would listen, slip into a trance and eventually make a prediction. The future is unknown and frightening and people believe in a prophecy alleviates some of the worry by declaring the outcome.

Big data serves as a modern oracle. Yet despite the high volume of data, using it proves difficult. Executives complain that their substantial investments into big data systems are not paying off in better employee decisions or more innovations. Tricia Wang, an ethnographer who studies patterns in how people use technology, has examined this discrepancy.

When Wang was a researcher for Nokia in 2009, she conducted field studies in China to determine how people in low-income brackets used technology. She worked as a street vendor and lived among migrants to observe various social groups. Her qualitative research revealed a large change on the horizon: Many of China’s poor yearned for smartphones, and some would invest more than half their monthly income to own an iPhone knockoff.

Unfortunately, Nokia rejected her insights because they contradicted its big data. Yet, the company’s data drew from surveys that assumed consumers weren’t aware of smartphones.

As a result, Nokia’s business “fell off a cliff.” Like Nokia, many companies disregard data that don’t come from a quantitative model. This narrow approach works for analyzing data from finite systems, such as an electrical power grid. But when systems are evolving and mutable, relying on big data alone doesn’t suffice. People fall prey to the “quantification bias,” the unconscious preference of the “measurable over the immeasurable.”

This bias makes it easy to disregard important findings that don’t manifest numerically.

Even the Delphic oracle used human insights or rather, the temple guides who translated her babbling did. Geological research shows that the oracle’s temple sat upon two earthquake faults, allowing it to fill with ethylene gas. Temple guides tempered the woozy oracle’s predictions with their own knowledge and observations.

Similarly, you can integrate big data and “thick data,” the qualitative research that combs human “stories, emotions and interactions” to reveal insights and context.

For example, Netflix’s recommendation algorithm enabled it to make incremental improvements. But thick data revealed viewers’ propensity to binge watch: information Netflix used to great success. Enhancing algorithms with thick data can improve many aspects of society – such as law enforcement, health insurance and business – and even save lives.


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(TED) Plucky Rebels Being Agile in an Un-Agile Place

Notes

What is a “plucky rebel”?

Pluckiness means being optimistically determined.

Plucky rebels don’t lead others on suicide missions and they are not so positive that they lose credibility.

The word “rebel” pertains to the nature of start-ups.

If you’re not being rebellious, a successful company would have already produced and monetized your idea. Therefore, successful plucky rebels are agile and they push the limits without sacrificing predictability. Those traits are essential when launching a start-up within a large corporation.

Plucky rebels adhere to five rules:

  1. “Be right about the future” – Creating the future takes the guesswork out of predicting what it will be. Misreading the future results in products such as CD-R discs, for example, that were difficult to use in 2000 due to a miscalculation by developers in 1995. Yet even misses can produce positive results. For example, software created to message New York taxicabs failed, but the code formed the basis for Twitter.
  2. “Keep it secret, keep it safe” – Sharing your idea prematurely puts it in the system. Instead, stay quiet about your project until you have something people can see, touch and try. This way, you don’t have to explain your idea; the product speaks for itself.
  3. “Always cheat, always win” – Part of your job as a leader is to optimize resources on behalf of your people. Cheat by giving your initiative a creative name to shed preconceptions. For example, people know what “cloud services” are, so Peter Biddle of Intel called his team “affiliated services” to provide leeway to define his project.
  4. “Find some users and make them happy” – Real people who use and love your product make a more convincing argument than any chart or projection. For example, BitLocker developed its data protection feature to help incident response people sleep better at night. Now it produces a revenue stream of $500 million.
  5. “Make an attractive corpse” – Circumstances change, projects get canceled and efforts fail. Yet the short cycles of agile development allow for many small victories. So even if your project dies, you and your team can draw positives from the wreckage.

Plucky rebels are passionate about their projects. This passion serves as the fuel necessary to launch a start-up within a big company. Your belief in your idea must run so deep that you’d consider launching your start-up independently to make it happen, even if it means giving up the security and backing of your large corporation.


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(TED) How to Break Bad Management Habits Before They Reach the Next Generation of Leaders

Leadership coach Elizabeth Lyle is concerned about the future of leadership.

She realizes that today’s middle managers “our pipeline of future talent” are adopting the bad habits of their superiors. These traits are ill-suited for leading organizations of the future, where “speed, flexibility, trust and cooperation” will become vital leadership assets.

Once ingrained, bad leadership habits are difficult to shake off.

Consider Jane, a highly accomplished senior manager with a staid, top-down management style, and John, an exceptionally talented manager who works for Jane. John recognizes that Jane’s decision-making process is inefficient and won’t work in the business environment of the future. For example, Jane insists on one-on-one meetings with each of her firm’s executives to ensure they are on board with her idea before convening a general meeting to reach a consensus. John fully intends to change this process when he is the boss.

But for now, he is happy to go along with Jane’s outmoded practices so Jane will continue to promote him. Yet when the time comes, John may not know how to change. By shadowing Jane, he will be familiar only with her methods. Moreover, he won’t want to take any risks and may opt to stick with Jane’s inefficient approach. Yet middle managers like John are best positioned to incite leadership improvements within organizations. 

(This is probably the reason why it’s so hard to change an organisation culture, since, it has been inherited and ingrained, changing it would take a monumental efforts.)

“Our future leaders are learning from senior role models who just aren’t ready to role model yet.”

How can organizations inspire change?

Companies need to recognize that “the best form of learning happens on the job.” Two factors which almost all the time and affect most of the results are role models and work environments, which in any case are critical to such learning.

Alas, today’s senior leaders are inept role models, and work environments are experiencing radical disruption. Thus, middle managers must “take charge of their professional destinies” or risk inheriting antiquitated organizations. Senior managers often are reluctant to bequeath power to their underlings, but they need to learn that ceding some control can be beneficial.

For example, John ought to present Jane with a thoughtful proposal on how to make decision-making processes more efficient and ask for Jane’s permission to do so. By giving John space to practice new leadership behaviors, Jane can contribute to developing a new generation of leaders and augment her own leadership style.

Leadership coaches can act as “couples therapists” in this process by observing and advising on the interactions between leaders and their direct reports, fostering the cooperation and communication skills critical to the workplace of the future.


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(TED) The new age of corporate monopolies

Following the devastation of World War II, six European countries founded the European Union in 1957 to advance peace and democracy on the continent. An integral part of the union was a common market ensuring fair competition.

The EU’s founders established rules and appointed a commissioner of competition to enforce them, so companies would compete based on price, quality, service and innovation, and not foul play. Without such rules for competition, businesses are tempted to gain unfair competitive advantage over one another. 

They may become greedy or deem competition “inconvenient” because it means that even if they’re thriving, they have no guarantee of future success.

Recently, the European Commission broke up seven cartels that were controlling the production of car parts. By colluding with each other to fix prices, these companies escalated car prices for consumers. Similarly, governments can undermine fair competition by providing subsidies to only select companies.

For example, several European governments have provided special tax benefits to Fiat, Starbucks and Apple. These types of subsidies, which taxpayers finance, give companies an unfair competitive advantage over rivals that could potentially offer consumers a superior service or price.

Lack of fair competition can erode people’s trust, not just in the market, but in society at large. People who perceive inflated prices for electricity or the medicine they depend on may soon come to conclude that “ the world isn’t really fair.”

The market should serve all, but overly steep prices make it seem “more like the private property of a few powerful companies.” Equal treatment helps people trust one another, and society runs on trust. People need to have confidence in the products they consume and the services they require which is why regulation matters. Especially in an age of rapid technological transformation, people need to feel sure that the search engine they use isn’t hindering market competition, that online businesses aren’t sharing consumers’ personal information and that the software behind self-driving cars is safe. 

As society grows, trust becomes simultaneously more needed and harder to foster. Regulation and competition rules level the playing field for private businesses, encourage innovation and send a message of fairness to citizens that reinforces their trust in society.


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(TED) 3 Ways to Make Better Decisions – by Thinking like a Computer

“Computer science can help to make us more forgiving of our own limitations.”

He start by giving an example of finding a place to rent or buy in Sydney is difficult. In the competitive market, making an offer means you might lose out on a better option. The house hunting dilemma is an example of an “optimal stopping” problem.

Computer scientists have a solution and it goes like this. In order to maximize the probability of finding the best possible home, look at 37% of available accommodations and make an offer on the next place that is better than any you’ve already viewed. Or look for 37% of one month, 11 days, “to set a standard,” and then choose the best available option. 

The methods computers use to solve problems mimic how humans make decisions. Thus, applying computer science to everyday problems improves human decision making.

For example, choosing a restaurant employs what computer scientists call the “explore-exploit trade-off.”

Do you try something new (explore) or stay with something familiar (exploit) ? If you’re in an area for a short time, pick the exploit option. However, if you’re dining in your neighborhood, explore to gather information that will inform future choices.

“The value of information increases the more opportunities you’re going to have to use it.”

Babies explore by tasting every new thing they encounter. Meanwhile, the old man who goes to the same restaurant and orders the same thing each time is exploiting a lifetime of knowledge.

“Human lives are filled with computational problems that are just too hard to solve by applying sheer effort. For those problems, it’s worth consulting the experts: computer scientists.”

Computer science can even help you organize your closet. Most computers have a fast memory system with limited storage and a larger slow memory system. The most recently accessed data gets stored in the fast system, and the computer makes space by tossing something old into the slow memory system. Apply this principle to sorting your clothes by discarding items you haven’t worn for a long time. This convention works in the office, too. You’ve likely stacked that messy pile of papers on your desk according to how recently you used each document, with the most recent file sitting atop the pile.

“Computer science can help to make us more forgiving of our own limitations.”

These might seem trivial, but computer science also can help with life’s more difficult decisions. “The best algorithms are about doing what makes the most sense in the least amount of time.” Algorithms streamline information making it more manageable, and computers break big problems into smaller, simpler steps. The best approach such as the 37% rule of house hunting might produces the best solution given the circumstances.

Your choice may not be perfect.

It may overlook some options or involve settling for a satisfactory solution. But doing so is “what being rational means.”

(TED) How to Gain Control of Your Free Time

“We don’t build the lives we want by saving time. We build the lives we want, and then time saves itself.”


Time management and productivity expert Laura Vanderkam is the author of I Know How She Does it.

Popular time-saving tips include ideas such as recording your favorite TV shows so you can zip through the commercials or making only right-hand turns while running errands. But the shaving time off daily activities won’t produce much-needed extra hours. Instead of carving out time to do the things you want, prioritize what you want in life and do it.

Tip 1: Priorities what you want, so you’ll have the time to do what you want.

A time study of busy women juggling work, family and personal commitments found that time is highly adaptable. This is especially evident when an emergency strikes.

She given an example of when one of the study’s subjects came home to find that her water heater had flooded her basement, finding a plumber, hiring a cleaning company and arranging service calls took seven hours of her time that week.

Although she would testify to being too busy to spend seven hours a week, say, training for a triathlon or mentoring junior employees, her time expanded to cover this crisis situation. “I don’t have time” really means the task is not important to you, so handle your priorities as you would a broken water heater.

‘I don’t have time’ actually means it’s not a priority

“We don’t build the lives we want by saving time. We build the lives we want, and then time saves itself.”

Acknowledging that you don’t want to make time to do something reframes time as a choice.

Begin by identifying what’s truly important to you.

Imagine it’s the end of next year and you are writing three to five amazing feats you accomplished for a performance review.

Do the same thing for your personal life by pretending that you are composing next year’s holiday newsletter. Now, you have six to 10 goals for the following year. Break down these targets into manageable steps. For instance, if you’d like to run a 5 km race, research and create a training program. Give these activities as much import as a broken water heater by building them into your weekly schedule in advance. A good time to tackle this is on a Friday afternoon. Draw up a list with three headings: “career, relationships” and “self.” Write two or three items under each heading and place them on a weekly planner.

“Time is highly elastic. We cannot make more time, but time will stretch to accommodate what we choose to put into it.”

You may believe you are too busy for this method to work, but the numbers tell a different story. Of the 168 hours in a week, you spend 56 sleeping and 40 working, which leaves 72 hours open. Even if you work more than 40 hours a week, you still have many hours for other activities. A study showed that people significantly overestimate the number of hours they work. Maximize your small moments of free time instead of pulling out your phone or turning on the TV. Read a book during your commute. Enjoy a family breakfast or meditate during a work break. Even the busiest people make time for what matters most to them.