Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Strategic analysis of Global warming

From Marconomica Principle #5 I've grouped entities strategically as countries. In the global scale, it is countries leaders making the commitments on behalf of all their citizens. The Dillemma's leaders of democracies face is that signed committments get votes now, but may lose them votes if they fail to achieve them later, or if it ends up costing more than voters are willing to pay. The over-riding strategic concern must be "the tragedy of the commons". I have imagined scenarios in which generalised fears cause emmissions to accelerate, with every country more or less blaming every other country. Individual countries obviously try to make any committments at such a long term as to ensure they won't lose personally by failing. As the long term committment nears maturity, the gap between the committment and reality will be so wide that no Government would accept responsibility. The proposed targets are framed in such a way that it is only the end result that is being argued over - not anything in between that will necessarily have to happen to get there (eg goals within an electoral term window). Examples that perhaps ought to be copied if we were serious about it, have their own horrors associated. For instance, Russia is the only Kyoto ratifier to obviously achieve their goal. Clearly, having an economy tank is an obvious way to reduce emissions, but no environmentalist is seriously suggesting it (except Peter Garrett before he became a politician:)). Also examples of rich countries with a very low carbon intensity exist (France), but this contradicts heavily with environmentalists hatred of Hydro and Nuclear power (and hatred of France). Having all but strategically ruled out strategies with proven records, my prediction is of a 10% increase in emmissions in developed countries by 2020 (from 2000 figures)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Marconomic Analysis of the state of play in Climate change

In Principia Marconomica
principle #2, I have stated that perception is not reality, and having a quick look at Wikipedia's Determining political spectra, the climate change state of play is that people's views are highly correlated on this, thus a one dimensional line is very apt to describe it. Principle #2 states that it is very likely that none of the points on the line reflect reality. The perception of the majority, including those that are uncertain, is that if the "alarmist" is right about one thing (say rapid increasing temperature prediction) that they will also be right about a correlated view (Disaster will befall the Earth). Similarly for "denialist" views.
Politics is certain to use this line to influence certain peer groups as units to obtain votes; activists are going to try to influence individuals to join their peer such as to increase their numbers and weight as efficiently as possible.
The unfortunate thing is that a set of views that is without peer almost always gets misunderstood, ignored or forever questioned. What we need is a set of scientists and other professionals that is unburdened by their peers or lobby groups. I just wonder whether "Peer review" leads to "peer pressure" when it comes to the spin on scientific research.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Trading Hot Air

I realise I have perhaps been too harsh to completely dismiss the current state of affairs with "Carbon offsets". I have claimed that these are a "bastardised" form of *allocation* trading. My reasoning is that trading allocations works because the number of allocations is finite and controlled. If one starts to use something like planting trees or buying incandescent lightbulbs, you can buy an infinite amount of these and obviously this would break down the system. Contrast this to a carbon tax, that like any sin tax will reduce demand for the sinful product (in this case carbon), punish bigger users in proportion, and if it replaces other non-carbon-proportional taxes, will be revenue neutral, thus there should not be any net capital flight away from the taxing country.

However, adopt cumulative palatable changes to this system and something strange happens. First, these offsets can move from being voluntary to being compulsory for a certain energy class. Say with electricity, an automatic calculation of carbon based on your electricity bill is used to bill you for the offset. Ditto with fuels. This would not be too controversial. Next, these could be further refined by more accurate metering. CH4, NO2 etc. levels could be monitored over different urban areas and these could form the basis for more compulsory offsets.

In the long term these offsets would be collected by the government and become quite proportional to the carbon usage. The offsets would no longer necessarily go to the lowest price, nor to the one decided on by the payer, but be decided pretty much like any other Government project. This way it would end up being indistinguishable from a carbon tax. This is just a pathway for the Government to sell the idea of something that is essentially increasing cost for basic utilities without any added direct value - generally a fatal policy move.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Chicago, Canada, Alabama, Key West

As part of our whirlwind 87/88 US tour, we made good use of our 15 day Greyhound pass to get around. I can't quite remember the context and dates for these :( Yes I can :).

These photos are all from early January 1988. After a chilly New Years Day stop-over in Fargo North Dakota (no photos), where we were locked out of the bus station and a kind beekeeper puts us up for the night so we don't freeze in the -40degree (Farenheit, Celcius take your pick:)) wind chill, we make it to Winnipeg Canada, where by the 3rd of January, I remember that we hadn't taken any photos so I take one.
Winnipeg, Canada We were walking to (Eatons?) shopping centre.

This next photo is a re-enactment of a very notorious scene in "Ferris Bueller's day off", where the youngsters risk their lives by standing on the railing and lean into the window with their head when they are at the top floor observatory! It was probably the 5th of January.

Sears Tower, Chicago Not as scary as it looks. Maybe the security guards knew something we didn't.

The next photo was taken in Birmingham, Alabama, where the trees had ice on them. Must have been around the 9th of January. We were awaiting our bus out of the place and I realised we didn't have a photo, so I demanded one next to the phone box because it looked a little interesting.
Alabama! I had my winter suit on, but the Doctor seemed to be warm enough without.

The next photo is the place at Key West which was rather warm in comparison, so we bought some singlets with stuff written on them. Must have been about the 11th of January?
Key West

Friday, December 07, 2007

Lesson: Do not throw snowballs at AMERICANS

Australian Andy should have learned the lesson I did almost twenty years ago.

Trust me! It can never end well. This goes for Islamic extremists who like to throw something more substantial... eg. Suicide bomber, Aeroplane etc. etc.

Even if you lead a country and even hint at suggesting America may have asked for it, you are seen to be fair game.