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OpenMarket: Energy and Environment

  • Usual suspects make the list -- environmentalists of all time

    November 29, 2006
    Dr. C.S. Prakash alerted me to yesterday's list in The Guardian of the top environmental campaigners of all time. Not surprisingly, Rachel Carson tops the list, and one of her chief achievements was the eventual banning of DDT. Readers might be interested in John Berlau's DDT article today, which puts that “achievement” in a human context. Here's the list of the top twenty. One who really accomplished something that helped save the earth — the people on it — was number 19, Joseph Bazelgette, who realized that “foul water” not foul air was responsible for the cholera epidemics. He devised the London...
  • Lake Woebegone Takes over Britain!

    November 27, 2006
    The classic motto of Garrison Keillor's bucolic world — “where all the children are above average” — has now been adopted by David Cameron, leader of the Conservative party now challenging Labour in the UK. In a recent speech, Cameron noted “…we used to think of poverty only in absolute terms — [but in the future] we need to think of poverty in relative terms — the fact that some people lack those things which others in society take for granted.”
  • They Know It When They Smell It

    November 27, 2006
    Here at Open Market, we're big fans of Penn & Teller, particularly their emmy-nominated Showtime program, Bullshit! Our own Angela Logomasini was even a guest on the episode they did on recycling. We are therefore excited to bring you, via Google Video, their episode on environmental hysteria, featuring the now-legendary petition drive to ban dihydrogen monoxide. Thanks to Wayne for passing along. [googlevideo]-4480559399263937213[/googlevideo]
  • Advice on global warming policy to the EU: airline taxes for all.

    November 22, 2006
    The European Commission has turned its attention to the substantial greenhouse gas emissions produced by air travel. They want to tax all commercial airline flights in the EU and all coming from and going to the EU. The size of tax being talked about is quite large, but probably not large enough to cut airline travel substantially. That means it would raise lots of revenue for the EU. The national flag carriers are not totally opposed, since as a percentage of the cost of a plane ticket it would raise costs much more for travelers on low-fare carriers such as Ryan Air. What I have seen no mention of in the press is all the emissions from private air travel. Apparently, the new proposals would exempt the small jets favored by corporate CEOs, Hollywood stars, and former Vice President Gore. But emissions from private jets are substantial and going up rapidly as more and more CEOs,...
  • Keeping a Stiff Upper Lip on Climate Science

    November 22, 2006
    The global warming debate this week features a furious back-and-forth between our pal Al Gore and Christopher Monckton (a/k/a Viscount Mockton of Brenchley), a former policy advisor to Margaret Thatcher. Monckton started with two articles in the Sunday Telegraph earlier this month, which Gore then responded to. The final product is this analysis and defence by Monckton of his original arguments, complete with dozens of references and citations (direct PDF link). It gets a little technical in parts, but it's a great point-by-point refutation of Gore's arguments. Almost as good, I might add, as this one, by our very own Marlo Lewis.
  • Stern's Critical Flaws

    November 22, 2006
    The Stern Review on the economics of climate change has come in for more criticism from experts in the field. Following Richard Tol, we now have Yale's William Nordhaus (PDF link), who says:
    The Stern Review is a Prime Minister's dream come true. It provides decisive and compelling answers instead of the dreaded conjectures, contingencies, and qualifications. However, a closer look reveals that there is indeed another hand to these answers. The radical revision of the economics of climate change proposed by the Review does not arise from any new economics, science, or modeling. Rather, it depends decisively on the assumption of a near-zero social discount rate. The Review's unambiguous conclusions about the need for extreme immediate action will not...
  • Weighty Problem

    November 21, 2006
    As Brooke notes below, obesity has been tied to global warming.  One of the lessons obesity campaigners drew from that study was that losing weight saves you gas money and that the US uses 938 million more gallons of gas a year because of the extra weight gain since 1960.  The often excellent env-econ blog had something to say about that:
    Let's say that a typical new car sold these days weighs about 4000 pounds. A 50 pound increase (one heavier male, one heavier female) is a 1.25 % increase in total weight. If the gasoline savings are about 1%, the elasticity of gas to weight (% change in gasoline divided by the % change in weight) is 0.80. Hmmm. Maybe the estimate ain't so crazy. Extrapolating, if the typical car turns into a typical car sold 25...
  • Democrats talk while the planet sizzles

    November 21, 2006
    The Republicans in Congress in recent years have held few hearings on global warming. But whenever they did, a long line of Democrats on whatever committee was holding the hearing would remark, always emphatically and often angrily, that the time for hearings was long past. The debate was over, we now knew that global warming was the greatest threat ever to face humankind/planet Earth, and that the Congress needed to act decisively immediately. So now that the Democrats have won House and Senate majorities, we can expect immediate action, right? Perhaps not a vote to ratify the Kyoto Protocol--even Senator Kerry recognizes that Kyoto is a dead duck--but at least votes on the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act within the first few hours or days of the 110th Congress. Alas, I'm sorry to have to report that the backsliding has begun even before the new Congress has been sworn in...
  • The Real Inconvenient Truth: "either one sided, misleading, exaggerated, speculative, or wrong"

    November 21, 2006
    In what is hopefully not a larger trend of turning PowerPoint presentations into cinematic features, Al Gore's shockumentary An Inconvenient Truth hits DVD shelves today. Paramount is making a big deal of the release, even going so far as to partner up with perennial corporate bogeyman Wal-Mart to push distribution. Sure we expected the inevitable co-marketing agreement with Ben & Jerry's, but Wal-Mart? The alarmists really must be desperate if they're willing to hold their nose and work with the Great Satan of Bentonville. Of course, we couldn't let this event go by without a response, and our own Marlo Lewis has long been working late into the night to craft not just a book-length...
  • We must all aspire to live in squalor

    November 20, 2006
    The enormously clever British environment minister David Miliband is very concerned that Kyoto appears to be falling apart because developing nations aren't willing to do their bit (note that Miliband is concerned that the ex-colonies are being led astray by evil Arabs, a fascinating subtext). Of course, we could have told him that. Anyway, Mr Miliband did a bit of sight seeing whilst in Kenya:
    During his visit to Kenya, Mr Miliband saw how climate change will affect the poorest nations hardest even though they account for a tiny proportion of carbon emissions. In the north of the country, he met nomadic tribespeople suffering from drought, and spent a morning in a slum in the middle of Nairobi where one million people live in 2 sq km.
    I can only assume he approved of...

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