Blogs, environment, politics, technology and the kitchen link, often all in one post!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Pigou manifesto great but too low, too slow and a tax increase

Greg Mankiw in the Wall Street Journal.

Kitchen Linker says:

1) $1/gallon over 10 years is too low and too slow

2) It needs to be revenue neutral, as Al Gore has proposed.

But the manifesto is excellent. Seven reasons you should support this. Call your politico and tell them. Maybe interrupt their lewd IM convo if necessary.

"Green" software development and n-order effects

Thought provoking post:
Face it: every layer added between your code and the hardware costs something once you scale it up, just like it does for a million gasoline cars. In the case of web pages and applications, that something is electricity. Most of which is generated by fossil fuels. Most of which comes from coal mines or oil imports.
As a first-order effect, yes. But IT is an efficiency-enabler. As an n-order effect, Kitchen Linker is not sure that making programmers more efficient by allowing them to write inefficient code is a bad thing for the environment.

But, do turn off your damned screensaver!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Tax waste not capital

Tyler Cowen in US News and World Report:
Phase out all forms of capital income taxation, including the corporate income tax, and replace them with a carbon tax, including a gasoline tax. "Savings and investment boost economic growth, but when it comes to energy, global warming threatens as a major problem and our dependence on Middle Eastern oil damages our foreign policy."
Kitchen Linker prefers Al Gore's proposal to tax waste not work but either or a combination is critical.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

NoPigou then what?

Greg Mankiw points out Join the Nopigou Club in Canada's National Post, which basically says pigouvian taxes are central planning, thus they are bad. Kitchen Linker understands this, but the alternative is much more central planning -- direct controls and prohibitions on greenhouse gas production and subsidy of things like ethanol -- all of which are inefficient, to say the least -- better to tax than prohibit.

The NoPigou Club has a blog. Hopefully they'll address the "if not pigouvian tax, then what?" issue.

Fire after humans

BoingBoing indrects to a Treehugger article and graphic, apparently based on a NewScientist article and Times of London graphic, about what the disappearance of humans would mean for the environment.

For the most part the articles look accurate and the results good for the environment, but the graphic is way too sanguine about the first months and probably years, e.g., "IMMEDIATELY: Most endangered species start recovering."

Why? Because if humans disappeared fire would be the dominant environmental factor for awhile. Cities and fuel would burn, quickly at first due to unattended fires, then slowly as lightning-started fires burn out anything that can be burned. And managed wild spaces that were not allowed to burn would do so, too.

Some non-human species would be wiped out by the fires and resulting poisoning. Then the recovery would begin.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Airbus, bankruptcy, and monopoly

The Economist has a story about the daunting problems facing Airbus. As usual the magazine is informative, but for one bit of idiocy:
More alarmist analysts think that doing nothing would kill the company and make Boeing a monopoly producer.
Let's say Airbus/EADS goes bankrupt. Boeing will not be a monopoly producer, because Airbus will continue. Its investors will lose their shirts, its factories and other assets will simply be picked up by other investors.

Even in a make-believe world where bankruptcy led to assets going *poof* Boeing would only have a temporary monopoly position in a part of the market for large airliners. Bombadier and Embraer would develop larger airframes, Ilyushin would have a viable market position and one or more Asian companies would see an opening and act.

The only concern Kitchen Linker has is that these companies may be behind Boeing and Airbus in producing efficient aircraft. And that is a major concern.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Greenspan goes green

Alan Greenspan quoted in the New York Times:
In late September, as he spoke to a group of business executives in Massachusetts, a question was posed as to whether he’d like to see an increase in the federal gasoline tax, which has stood at 18.4 cents a gallon since 1993. “Yes, I would,” Mr. Greenspan responded with atypical clarity. “That’s the way to get consumption down. It’s a national security issue.”
The article also gives publicity to Greg Mankiw's Pigou Club. Excellent!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Taxing planes

That is plane trips tax the environment. "Jane Galt" says:
If you take just two cross country and two overseas trips a year . . . not a big number for today's more mobile young adults . . . you're consuming as much carbon as you would by driving a huge gas-guzzling SUV 12,000 miles a year.
So Kitchen Linker says,

  • Discourage low-value plane trips with a pigouvian tax.
  • Stop subsidizing airlines. There are many subsidies, see a recent New York Times story about a smaller one.
  • Lead the way with "only travel when strictly necessary" policies, replace travel with tele-, video-, and "second life" meetings.

On the other hand, air tavel has been getting much more efficient, which surprised me a little bit.

Friday, October 06, 2006

$30/gallon water

Wired News (found here) on a very cool sounding technology Making Water From Thin Air has this:
The cost to transport water by C-17 cargo planes, then truck it to the troops, runs $30 a gallon. The cost, including the machines from Aqua Sciences, will be reduced to 30 cents a gallon, Roy said.
A single gallon jug of water costs about $1 at retail in the U.S. Maybe the money would be better spent improving Iraqi infrastructure so bulk commodities did not have to be flown in on cargo planes that are themselves boondoggles.