Is Cameron an idiot?

Some people ask: does the G8 still matter, when we have a G20? My answer is “Yes”. The G8 is a group of like-minded nations who share a belief in free enterprise as the best route to growth.

The G8 includes Russia. Russia! Corrupt, crony-capitalist and authoritarian Russia. Obviously, Cameron isn’t this stupid, but why does he think we are?

I couldn’t even finish the insipid article.

The art of taxing carbon without taxing carbon

Before I talk about how the coalition have screwed up, I’ll talk about how the energy industry seems to be moving in the right direction. Despite there being limited progress in pricing carbon or achieving a low carbon economy. People in the energy industry seem to be acting as though there has been. I put this down to expectations.

The more and more closely with people in the energy sector, the more and more I begin to see expectations determining people’s behaviour. Every UK energy company has a smart metering team (that is mandated by law), but they are also dedicated to working out how to get people to use less energy (which isn’t).

Likewise, BP has invested in renewable energy research (although of course it hasn’t abandoned its profitable fossil fuel business). Other energy companies have made a move to low carbon generation and to reducing their customers’ energy consumption. The language executives use has even shifted. Find a speech from an energy company exec that doesn’t mention reducing emissions, you might be surprised how hard it is.

These actions won’t show up in policy discussions because the policies haven’t been implemented yet. So pessimism is to be expected. But when you look at what people are moving towards, it begins to look as though the expectations of more expensive carbon and cheaper renewables is affecting people’s behaviour. In an industry with such a long planning horizon I suppose this is to be expected, but I was surprised.

I suppose this is another of my hobby horses. Economics isn’t about choice. It is about expectations and contracts. Expecting higher prices, even if today’s prices are low, will impact your decisions. I think we can see some of this in the energy sector. I don’t want to be Panglossian, we are still probably screwed by climate change, but probably less screwed than people assume.

Sooner or later I’m going to blog on the coalition’s energy policy

The coalition are screwing up so much happening right now, that pretty much nobody I’ve been reading has mentioned how much they are screwing up energy policy. I think it is something to do with complexity. I work largely in the energy industry, and even with energy professionals, people still aren’t sure what the hell the coalition is doing.

So I will blog this…at some point.

Young Earth Creationism: I can’t believe some people believe this crap

Via Krugthulu, Marco Rubio’s isn’t sure how old the planet is:

GQ: How old do you think the Earth is?

Marco Rubio: I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.

At one level, this shows the Republican’s anti-science at its worse. The Christian right doesn’t see science as a path to knowledge, merely as another hermetic cult with its own competing creation myths. This is the key to why this young eartherism is a problem.

On another level, it shows the chutzpah of the Republicans. Of course being scientifically illiterate has an impact on the economy! The economy is more or less science in action, or at least the application of things that haven’t failed yet, which is more or less what science is.

This should be worrying for everyone involved (which sadly is everyone) because we’re already 13 days into the 2016 campaign, and this guy is in the front of the Republican pack.