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URL:  http://boards.fool.com/in-one-sense-safety-comparisons-are-like-any-29175623.aspx

Subject:  Re: OT-musing about Consequences Date:  3/16/2011  3:42 PM
Author:  Pariseur Number:  67871 of 80562

In one sense, safety comparisons are like any other decision tree. You list the conceivable outcomes. Then you value each potential outcome in some numerical terms (dollars, lives, whatever is appropriate). Finally you multiply that number by the probability of that outcome occurring (as best as you can estimate those two numbers). The choice with the highest product, in general, wins.

We all know that people die yearly while drilling for oil; I'd guess that - on average - more will die digging for coal; and very large numbers very infrequently from nuclear power plant explosions. We know that because we can count them pretty well. They also make for justifiably compelling television that has its own effects on voters and politicians will react.

There is less agreement on how to measure the environmental costs - resulting in sickness and even death - from coal emissions, from oil and other fossil fuels. I ma