The Tautology and Its Weaknesses

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]

Gunther: “Phony Green Jobs Debate”

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]

Plauger’s Law and Small Glacial Lakes


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]

NASA, DOE, and the Myth of Neutrality

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]

Economists vs Engineers

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]

Anonymous Contribution: In Defense of Growth

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]