Read this book now, before it is too late

Review of Not for Greens, by Ian Plimer (Connor Court Publishing, 2014).

In this entirely excellent book, Prof. Plimer answers three questions: What do geologists bring to the debate over climate change? What do environmentalists (“greens”) do that benefits either the environment or humanity? What would happen to the environment and to humanity if we outlawed the use of fossil fuels?

Regarding the first question, Plimer brilliantly explains why geologists, and only geologists, understand the history of climate change dating back to Earth’s creation; its myriad causes, cycles, and effects on weather and life on Earth; how today’s climate both differs from and is the same as climates past; and what role, if any, human activity (including the combustion of fossil fuels) may play in all of that.

Briefly put, geologists were studying climate change long before physicists started to speculate about the effects of carbon dioxide on temperatures. Geologists understand that changes in weather and average temperatures in recent decades pale into insignificance compared to changes on scales of millions, thousands, and even hundreds of years. As importantly, geologists know what we don’t know about the movement of carbon dioxide between reservoirs (terrestrial, oceanic, and atmospheric) and the effects of solar cycles and changes in ocean currents on temperature, precipitation, sea level, and life itself.

Source: Read this book now, before it is too late

The disparate impact of a national $15 minimum wage

Even if you believe Janet Yellen’s recent testimony that a $15 federal minimum wage would have a “very minimal” impact on overall employment, it is hard to imagine that raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour would not significantly impact business costs and employment in at least some parts of the country. But which parts, and by how much? I use publically available data to provide a rough answer to this important question.

Source: The disparate impact of a national $15 minimum wage

[David Bernstein] An Example of Why I No Longer Trust the New York Times

I can’t say I’ve ever fully trusted the Times to be accurate, but until recently I generally felt fairly confident that even if a story was slanted in perspective, the facts that were reported were basically accurate. Not anymore.

For example, here is the Times yesterday, in a news story on the front page (and linked here to the Baltimore Sun to evade a paywll): “For months, Republicans have used last summer’s protests as a political catchall, highlighting isolated instances of property destruction and calls to defund the police to motivate their base in November.” (emphasis added)

As I’ve noted previously, the property losses from the riots and looting last summer were on a par with the Los Angeles riots of 1992 and the totality of the 1960s urban riots. They included nightly riots in Portland, the destruction of a several blocks of Minneapolis, the establishment of a lawless anarchist zone for twenty-three days in Seattle, and riots in cities all over the country. I was in Omaha last summer, and I was surprised to find that the downtown was full of boarded-up shops whose windows had been smashed. A good friend from Albany, NY was just telling me about property destruction and looting there. I mention these because they did not make the national news, but there are many other examples from New York to Los Angeles.

In short, if I read this article in the Times and believed it, I would think there were just a few isolated incidents where property was destroyed last summer, and I wouldn’t even know who undertook the destruction. If the Times had tried to convey the facts, it would have instead stated something like that the Republicans highlighted “the most destructive riots in decades, causing various levels of chaos and destruction in cities across the country, that grew out of the protests, mostly peaceful, over George Floyd’s death.”

In any event, the fact that I could read an article like this one and wind up *less* informed than I was when I started is why I don’t trust the Times anymore. I’m hoping that once Trump is out of the way, the Times’ reporters and editors no longer feel to skew their coverage for fear of helping Trump the way their coverage of Clinton’s emails in 2016 may have helped him, but I have the feeling this is an indefinite change for the worse.

Source: [David Bernstein] An Example of Why I No Longer Trust the New York Times

Climate Doom Predictions

Suppose you go to your doctor, and he tells you you’re a week from an infarction that’s going to cause your heart to explode and kill you.  You do fine, with a bit of stress and tension.  Six months later he tells you you’re only three days away.  Then it’s two weeks. Then it’s nine days, then three days again, and eventually, it’s 60 years later, and he says you also have a serious liver issue and only four days to live.  And 13 years after that, 73 since he started pestering you, you’re STILL alive.

Hopefully long before then, you’d realize this “doctor” was completely full of shit and had no fucking clue what he was blathering about.

Sacred Cow Slaughterhouse

Features guest appearances by Paul Ehrlich, who apparently still thinks global mass starvation is in the cards, and lots of articles about the coming ice age.

Consistency about elasticities

If you think “stimulus” is effective right now, presumably you think supply curves are pretty elastic and thus fairly horizontal. That is, some increase in price/offer will induce a lot more output.

If you think we should hike the minimum wage right now, presumably you think supply curves are pretty inelastic and thus fairly vertical.  That is, some increase in price for the inputs will lead not to much of a drop in output and employment, maybe none at all.  The supply curve is fairly vertical.

You might somehow think that supply is elastic with respect to output price, but inelastic with respect to input price.  Is there a model that can generate that conclusion?  It is the net profit on the marginal output units that should matter for decisions.  And did you start with that model, or develop it afterwards to justify your dual intuitions?

Source: Consistency about elasticities

On impeachment, Part Two, some presumptions

In this post on impeachment, I want to state some presumptions that I think should apply in impeachment proceedings, including the latest impeachment of President Trump.

First, in my view, there should be a strong presumption against impeaching a president. The decision of who should be president is for the American people to make. The Constitution permits Congress to override that decision, but Congress should be very hesitant to use that power — and Congress always has been until pretty recently.

Although the Constitution uses the language of criminal law — “crimes” and “misdemeanors” — the criminal law standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt should not apply, in my opinion. However, the evidence of the “high crimes and misdemeanors” should at least be clear and convincing. If the president is to be impeached because of things he said, as is the case in the second impeachment of Trump, ambiguities in his statements should be resolved in his favor, rather than in favor of impeaching him.

Source: On impeachment, Part Two, some presumptions

The Left destroys everything it touches. Impeachment is no longer impeachment.

California secretly struggles with renewables

California has hooked up a grid battery system that is almost ten times bigger than the previous world record holder, but when it comes to making renewables reliable it is so small it might as well not exist.

….

Mind you the PG&E engineers are not that stupid. They know perfectly well that this billion dollar battery is not there to provide backup power when wind and solar do not produce. In fact the truth is just the opposite. The battery’s job is to prevent wind and solar power from crashing the grid when they do produce.

It is called grid stabilization. Wind and solar are so erratic that it is very hard to maintain the constant 60 cycle AC frequency that all our wonderful electronic devices require. If the frequency gets more than just a tiny bit off the grid blacks out. Preventing these crashes requires active stabilization.

Grid instability due to erratic wind and solar used to not be a problem, because the huge spinning metal rotors in the coal, gas and nuclear power plant generators simply absorbed the fluctuations. But most of those plants have been shut down, so we need billion dollar batteries to do what those plants did for free. Nor is this monster battery the only one being built in California to try to make wind and solar power work. Many more are in the pipeline and not just in California. Many states are struggling with instability as baseline generators are switched off.

Source: California secretly struggles with renewables

Protection against dengue?

The dengue virus uses a particular protein, called Non-Structural Protein 1 (NS1), to latch onto the protective cells around organs. It weakens the protective barrier, allowing the virus to infect the cell, and may cause the rupture of blood vessels. The research team’s antibody, called 2B7, physically blocks the NS1 protein, preventing it from attaching itself to cells and slowing the virus’s spread. Moreover, because it attacks the protein directly and not the virus particle itself, 2B7 is effective against all four dengue virus strains.

Source: Protection against dengue?

We’re going to see a lot of gains from designer antibodies.

Why Trump Shouldn’t be Impeached

As best I can tell, while Trump is morally responsible for the recent riot he is not legally responsible, since everything he did that contributed to it was something he had a legal right to do. But requirements for impeachment, other than a majority vote in the House to impeach and two-thirds in the Senate to convict, are unclear, so that is not, in my view, the fundamental issue.

Source: Why Trump Shouldn’t be Impeached