Bad news from oil spills has been getting rarer, though that may be of little comfort right now The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a horror, for people and for wildlife. It will surely cause huge damage. It is a reminder that for all the talk of global impacts, the worst environmental […]
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The myths of green energy I’ve admired Robert Bryce’s work since he did such a great job of exposing the biofuel boondoggle inGusher of Lies. Now he has a new book, which I have just kindled, on the myths of green energy, called Power Hungry. He summarises his argument in the Washington Post. One fact that […]
Matt will be in New York giving a talk at the New York Academy of Sciences on the evening of 19 May. Speaking about `How prosperity evolves’ and selling books. Feel free to spread the word.
Never underestimate the experts’ ability to get things wrong Seth Roberts has read three new books about how emperors are often more naked than people tell them they are. I’ve read two of those books and had much the same reaction. The trust-the-experts inertia of the financial markets described by Michael Lewis in The Big […]
Commerce has been the source of more virtue than glory or courage or faith Read this, taken from Roger Crowley’s brilliant book Empires of the Sea: Everyone employed chained labour — captured slaves, convicts, and, in the Christian ships, paupers so destitute they sold themselves to the galley captains. It was these wretches, chained three or […]
Volcanic ash particles are not like burglars: linear dose dependent. John Brockman’s Edge site has lots of short essay-lets on what the ash cloud episode means. Maybe because of the way it was reported in the USA, remarkably few of the commentaries seem to get that it was a huge buearucratic over-reaction to a theoretical model […]
Technology reduces human impact The always perceptive Indur Goklany has turned his attention to IPAT, the formula by which some environmentalists insist that human impact (I) gets worse if population (P), affluence (A) or technology (T) increases. This simple formula has become highly influential, but it fails to explain why human well being keeps increasing as […]
Neanderthals may have contributed a few genes to posterity after all Tantalising clues have been emerging for some time from human genomes that Neanderthals may have contributed a few genes to posterity after all. That `we’ mated with `them’ occasionally. The clues come in the form of widely differing DNA sequences that seem to converge […]
Shock news. Internet not all bad. David Brooks in the New York Times has news of a contrarian finding about the internet: Gentzkow and Shapiro found that the Internet is actually more ideologically integrated than old-fashioned forms of face-to-face association – like meeting people at work, at church or through community groups. You’re more […]
The volcanic ash panic is just the latest example of risk misjudgment I am no expert on jet engines, but my suspicions from the very beginning that the European authorities were over-reacting to Iceland’s ash cloud are hardening with every day. Of course flying into an actual ash plume is dangerous, but that does not […]