Monday, March 23, 2015

Save the World with Fossil Fuels

"Wind power, for all the public money spent on its expansion, has inched up to—wait for it—1% of world energy consumption in 2013. Solar, for all the hype, has not even managed that: If we round to the nearest whole number, it accounts for 0% of world energy consumption.
"Both wind and solar are entirely reliant on subsidies for such economic viability as they have. World-wide, the subsidies given to renewable energy currently amount to roughly $10 per gigajoule: These sums are paid by consumers to producers, so they tend to go from the poor to the rich, often to landowners (I am a landowner and can testify that I receive and refuse many offers of risk-free wind and solar subsidies)."

Only nations and people who are wealthy will be able to buy the best technologies, when they evolve, and will thus be able to afford to replace hydrocarbons.  Get rich and stay rich if you want to "save the planet".

Not Aging Well

Democrats have pointed to signs of a recent uptick of support for Obamacare. But it's worth noting that in April 2010, just after it was signed into law, the Kaiser Family Foundation's monthly tracking poll found that 46 percent of Americans had a favorable view of the law, compared with 40 percent who had an unfavorable view. This month, just 41 percent have a favorable view, compared with a larger contingent of 43 percent who viewed it unfavorably. Even more staggering is that at the time the law passed, 50 percent of the uninsured viewed the law favorably, no doubt optimistic about the promises of quality, affordable healthcare. But in this month's poll, just 31 percent of the uninsured had a favorable view. In other words, the segment of the population intended to be the primary beneficiaries of the law and who have the most reason to interact with it, have a more negative impression of the law than the broader public.

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Reagan approach to climate change - The Washington Post

The trend of disappearing summer sea ice in the Arctic is clear even though there is always some variability from year to year. Severe winter weather underscores the importance of keeping track of significant trends. Here are the numbers, according to Julienne Stroeve, of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., as reported in the Economist in February:
"Between 1953 and 2014, the average area of the Arctic sea ice shrank by 48,000 square kilometers a year." 

Temperatures vary. You may have read about a global "stall" in temperature increase over the past decade, despite carbon dioxide levels rising at about 0.5 percent each year. Here again, though, trends tell the bigger story. Since humans started to produce more CO2 in the late 1800s, we know that overall land and ocean temperatures have increased about 1 degree Celsius, and in Antarctica, teams examining the world's oldest ice cores recently released their findings of 800,000 years of climate history. "Even when our climate was in some other phase, some different way of balancing the many subtle influences that make up the wind and weather and warmth we experience, temperature and greenhouse gases still marched in lockstep," wrote Gabrielle Walker in her book "Antarctica: An Intimate Portrait of a Mysterious Continent." "Higher temperature always went with higher CO2. Lower temperature went with lower CO2." 
These are simple and clear observations, so I conclude that the globe is warming and that carbon dioxide has something to do with that fact. Those who say otherwise will wind up being mugged by reality.

The author confused correlation v causation with regard to the ice data on CO2 and temperatures - if they vary together due to another factor, any money spent on CO2 would be pure waste.  If heat of the water goes up, the water will release more CO2.  CO2 then is just a trailing indicator.

If you assume that CO2 is a green house gas of significance, you will be lead to wrong conclusions.

Then there's the issue of whether it is possible for politicians to write legislation that accomplishes what they claim it will, or whether - even if it does - the benefits will out weight the negative unintended consequences.  I think of the CAFE laws as the poster child for this issue.

The author's use of "we" is telling.  "We" do nothing, we cede our power and they do what they want to us.  Being able to hold onto the idea of government action as something "we" do betrays significant naïveté.

The Null Hypothesis for Income and Wealth | askblog

The Null Hypothesis for Income and Wealth

The abstract of a working paper by David Cesarini and others says,
We use administrative data on Swedish lottery players to estimate the causal impact of wealth on players' own health and their children's health and developmental outcomes. Our estimation sample is large, virtually free of attrition, and allows us to control for the factors ‒ such as the number of lottery tickets ‒ conditional on which the prizes were randomly assigned. In adults, we find no evidence that wealth impacts mortality or health care utilization, with the possible exception of a small reduction in the consumption of mental health drugs.

Our estimates allow us to rule out effects on 10-year mortality one sixth as large the cross-sectional gradient. In our intergenerational analyses, we find that wealth increases children's health care utilization in the years following the lottery and may also reduce obesity risk. The effects on most other child outcomes, which include drug consumption, scholastic performance, and skills, can usually be bounded to a tight interval around zero. Overall, our findings suggest that correlations observed in affluent, developed countries between (i) wealth and health or (ii) parental income and children's outcomes do not reflect a causal effect of wealth.

Pointer from James Pethokoukis.
Somebody should replicate this study in the United States. I would not be surprised if the effects on child outcomes were closely bounded to a tight interval around zero here, also.
This is the sort of evidence that I wish Robert Putnam would confront.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Piketty On Piketty

Mr. Piketty has backtracked, undermining the policy prescriptions many have based on his conclusions. In "About Capital in the 21st Century," slated for May publication in the American Economic Review but already available online, Mr. Piketty writes that far too much has been read into his thesis. 
Though his formula helps explain extreme and persistent wealth inequality before World War I, Mr. Piketty maintains, it doesn't say much about the past 100 years. "I do not view r>g as the only or even the primary tool for considering changes in income and wealth in the 20th century," he writes, "or for forecasting the path of inequality in the 21st century."