A given economic growth rate can be sustainable only if the average impact per unit wealth declines at an equal or greater rate.
I argue that this is certainly true if one grants that a sustainable behavior must be sustainable indefinitely.
Shortly after coming to this pretty firm conclusion and wondering how smug to feel about it, I realized that it’s just a consequence of the old I = PAT tautology, due to Ehrlich and Holdren (yes that Holdren). [more]
Marc Gunther at The Energy Collective pretty much agrees with me on the “green jobs” thing.
Let’s get real: We can’t predict oil prices 12 months out. Last spring, virtually no one anticipated the global financial crisis of last fall. And we are projecting the number of green jobs that will be created or lost on a state-by-state basis by a law that won’t take effect until 2012? [more]
This is something of a rant about science journalism and my place in it.
The core of the matter is this.
In our peculiar circumstances, science writing has an ethical component.
Although speech is free in a free country, individuals or corporations aren’t free of ethical responsibility for what they write. [more]
Dot Earth is running “Eleven Questions for Obama’s Science Team” and I would like to especially recommend they (and all of us) think long and hard on question eight, which is a nice statement of one of our themes here:
My request to the Obama transition team is to introduce the economy team to the science team. [more]
A surprising glimmer of recognition spotted in the major media:
“Look,” said the President, walking across the stage with a microphone in hand, “here’s what no one wants to tell you. Structural changes in our economy, and new competition from countries like China and India, mean that we’re in a different world now. [more]
I rotate the quotation at the top of the blog sometimes. For the reference of future readers it currently reads:
“My definition of an expert in any field is a person who knows enough about what’s really going on to be scared.”
– P. J. Plauger
This Sunday’s presentation at the Ethical Society of Austin presented a laundry list of environmental contaminants without really providing any sense of scale or stratgey for prioritization. [more]
A fellow named Zeke Hausfather has showed up on the globalchange list and is saying a lot of interesting things. At last I am getting some glimmer of an idea that some sort of sensible discussion is happening in some corner of economics. I hope this leads to some substantive reading at some point. [more]
UPDATE: To clarify my point here, US Federal scientific agencies have an aversion to taking positions. SUch aversion is not in line with public desires or expectations, and is ultimately infeasible. A refusal to take a policy position by a public agency on a matter of their specific expertise is equivalent to taking an explicit position that a policy is unnecessary. [more]
For those wandering in here without context, I am advocating a rethinking of economics in the light of sustainability issues in general and climate change in particular.
Consider minutes 4 through 7 of this video of a Google Tech Talk by Van Jacobson.
“It’s not that the solution we have is a bad one, it’s that the problem has changed.”
I’d like to see this sort of breadth of vision coming from economic thinkers. [more]
A chap called Alex Steffen has a response to my recent Grist article based on The Little Prince.
Thanks to David Roberts for catching that and calling it to my attention.
Inel passes along this anonymous contribution, in an effort to answer one of my perennial questions about the conventional wisdom in economics. It’s interesting and polite, but it still seems to see everything on a pretty narrow Marxism/capitalism axis with the limits set by sustainability as a sort of afterthought.
In short, I can’t agree but I think it’s worth reading. [more]
I have an essay on sustainability aimed at a broad audience. It’s now up on Grist.
I’m quite pleased with it, at least as a start. The analogy that the article builds on can be useful in many ways and I hope it catches on.