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Tag Archives: Energy, Environment, Resources

Wagner and Weitzman’s Asymmetric Treatment of Non-Carbon Energies

In his well-deserved victory lap about his bet with Daniel Reeves, co-blogger Bryan Caplan points out that one major flaw in Gernot Wagner’s and Martin L. Weitzman’s book Climate Shock is its treatment or, rather, non-treatment of nuclear power. Bryan writes: Wagner and Weitzman barely mention nuclear power or the absurd regulatory burden under which it labors.  This fits with the Social Desirability Bias story, and makes me further distrust them. In a comment on...

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Infrastructure All the Way Down

I have argued on this blog that the best practical definition of infrastructure is “whatever the government wants to pay for because it benefits from the expenditure.” The adoption by the House of a $1-trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill reinforces this argument. (See Gabriel T. Rubin and Eliza Collins, “What’s in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill? From Amtrak to Roads to Water Systems,” Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2021.) The standard argument for public...

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I Win My Climate Shock Bet

Two months ago, Daniel Reeves offered me a remarkable bet.  The terms: 1. Bryan reads Climate Shock.  But feel free to skip the parts about short-term extreme weather events — that’s probably least compelling and least relevant to the long-term cost/benefit analysis. 2. Danny puts up $500 to Bryan’s $250 on Bryan doing a 180 on some important policy question related to climate change, such as supporting carbon pricing or subsidizing clean energy or carbon capture...

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Will Texas choose to be pro-business or pro-market?

Tesla recent announced plans to move its corporate headquarters from California to Texas.  But there are some ironies associated with this action: And despite the state’s business-friendly reputation, Tesla can’t sell vehicles directly to customers there because of a law that protects car dealerships, which Tesla does not use. I would challenge the reporter’s use of the term ‘despite’.  Indeed, in a sense the Texas ban on direct sales from auto manufacturers is...

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Good News on Oil Spills

Max Roser, at the site “Our World in Data,” reports some encouraging news on oil spills. Their frequency has fallen over the last few decades and the amount of oil spilled has fallen dramatically over the last few decades. The graph above shows volume of oil spilled on the vertical axis and year on the horizontal. The big spikes are in the late 1970s, early 1980s, and early 1990s. HT2 Tyler Cowen.

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Is California still a trendsetter?

When I was young, people used to say that global trends started in America and American trends began in California. One famous example was Proposition 13, which signaled a broader tax cut movement in many other states and countries. California recently passed a couple of bills that may signal the beginning of a major pushback against NIMBYism.  SB-9 allows homeowners to divide lots in two, and then build two housing units on each of those lots.  Of course many lots...

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Wagner’s and Weitzman’s Bathtub Analogy

In a comment by Daniel Reeves on a recent post by my co-blogger Bryan Caplan, Reeves claims that I ignored the bathtub analogy in Gernot Wagner’s and Martin L. Wietzman’s Climate Shock in my review of the book. I didn’t mention it but I didn’t ignore it. It just struck me when reading the book that the bathtub analogy was obviously correct and, indeed, so obvious that it wasn’t worth mentioning. Maybe that’s because I’ve read a lot about global warming but it’s more...

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Climate Change: Compared to What?

While in my car last week, I heard a story on NPR about how climate change makes storms like Ida even worse. I am no climate expert, and I am of the belief that the climate is changing due to both natural and manmade factors; but I know when a story sounds credible or not. This one didn’t, like many others I hear or read. During the whole thing, I kept thinking of Thomas Sowell who said: “There are three questions that would destroy most of the arguments on the left:...

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The Producer as a Guilty Prostitute

Following a lawsuit brought by environmental groups, a court in The Hague (Netherlands) just ordered Shell to cut 45% of its carbon emissions by 2030 because the company “is partially responsible for climate change,” as the Wall Street Journal puts it (Sarah McFarlane, “Shell Ordered by Dutch Court to Cut Carbon Emissions,” May 26, 2021). The company will quite certainly appeal the ruling but, irrespective of the final result, it is interesting to ask what could have...

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What is Ontario Trying to Tell Us?

I received the picture above in my quarterly electricity bill for my cottage in Minaki, Ontario. I knew, given the number of rivers there are in Ontario, that water power was a big part of the story. Thus the name Hydro One. I also knew that nuclear power was a big part of the story. I just didn’t know how big the latter was. What are they trying to tell us Americans?

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