The other day Marshall and Sol took on Bjorn Lomborg for ignoring the benefits of curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed. But Bjorn, among others, is also notorious for exaggerating costs. That fact is that most serious estimates of reducing emissions are fairly low, and there is good reason to believe cost estimates are too high for the simple fact that analysts cannot measure or imagine all ways we might curb emissions. Anything analysts cannot model translates into cost exaggeration. Hawai`i is a good case in point. Since moving to Hawai`i I've started digging into energy, in large part because the situation in Hawai`i is so interesting. Here we make electricity mainly from oil, which is super expensive. We are also rich in sun and wind. Add these facts to Federal and state subsidies and it spells a remarkable energy revolution. Actually, renewables are now cost effective even without subsidies. In the video below Matthias Fripp, who I'm lucky to be working w
Matt has taken the bait and asked me a five good questions about my snarky, contrarian post on climate adaptation. Here are his questions and my answers. Question 1. This paper will be published soon by the JPE. Costinot, Arnaud, Dave Donaldson, and Cory B. Smith. Evolving comparative advantage and the impact of climate change in agricultural markets: Evidence from 1.7 million fields around the world. No. w20079. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2014. http://www10.iadb.org/intal/intalcdi/PE/2014/14183.pdf It strongly suggests that adaptation will play a key role protecting us. Which parts of their argument do you reject and why? Answer: This looks like a solid paper, much more serious than the average paper I get to review, and I have not yet studied it. I’m slow, so it would take me awhile to unpack all the details and study the data and model. Although, from a quick look, I think there are a couple points I can make right now. First, and mo
Paul Krugman doesn't typically write about food, so I was a little surprised to see this. Still, I think he got most things right, at least by my way of thinking. Among the interesting things he discussed. 1. The importance of behavioral economics in healthy food choices 2. That it's hard to know how many actual farmers are out there, but it's a very small number . 3. That we could clean up farming a lot by pricing externalitie s [also see ], or out-right banning of the most heinous practices, but that doesn't mean we're going to go back to the small farms of the pre-industrial era, or anything close to it. 4. Food labels probably don't do all that we might like them to do (see point 1.) 5. How food issues seem to align with Red/Blue politics just a little too much There's enough to offend and ingratiate most everyones preconceived ideas in some small way, but mostly on the mark, I think.