Economics

The discount rate is a basic tool of accounting and economics: people and institutions often need to deal with costs and benefits which will arise in the future, and it doesn’t usually make sense to simply value them as if they were happening today. A person expecting pension payments of $1,000 per month in thirty […]

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Somehow, this article seems indicative of the low quality of a lot of our thinking about environmental issues: Mesmerizing ‘blue whirl’ from fire tornado could be cleaner solution for oil spills: Scientists discover clean-burning blue flame while simulating a fire tornado in the lab. It seems a particularly questionable application of the idea that technology […]

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The New York Times has published an exceptional long article by Scott Anderson about the history of the Middle East since 2003. It’s an ambitious text to have written, not a trivial task to read, and perhaps a suggestion that print journalism is enduring in its dedication to telling complicated stories, despite ongoing challenges to […]

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After many shorter spans which left us sweating in our third floor rooms, Toronto is now immersed in the longest and most intense heat wave of the summer so far. This leaves me feeling awkward about actually owning an air conditioner, which I have never moved from its storage location in our living room. During […]

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In an interesting recent article on urbanization, The Economist noted: A huge and growing number of people live somewhere like Mikwambe [“on the edge of Dar es Salaam”]. Between 2005 and 2015 the world’s cities swelled by about 750m people, according to the UN. More than four-fifths of that growth was in Africa and Asia; […]

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During the last few years, solidarity with indigenous peoples has been a major area of emphasis for environmentalist, climate change activist, and anti-pipeline groups. In part, this seems to be based on the view that indigenous peoples have the strongest legal tools for blocking new fossil fuel projects, at least in Canada. This raises the […]

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Both on this site and in academic work, I have done a lot of research and writing on nuclear energy: specifically, it’s desirability as a low-carbon energy option and climate change solution, and perspectives on nuclear energy within the environmental and climate change activist movements. The European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) was designed by Framatome (now […]

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When making decisions about technology, both false positive and false negative errors are possible. By that, I mean it’s possible for us to miss or ignore how a technology has unacceptable consequences for people and the rest of nature. DDT or the drug thalidomide were such false negatives: wrongly considered to be acceptable for use […]

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For a few months, I have been listening to The Energy Gang podcast. They cover a range of issues, but I think they are distinguished by being wonkier than usual, very U.S.-focused, and more focused on economics and business than most climate change commentators. Their most recent episode discusses a recent New York Times article […]

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I have mentioned methane before in the context of agriculture (specifically the meat industry) and in terms of the so-called “dash to gas” in Europe. More broadly, the desirability or undesirability of gas is a major issue in environmental politics. On the basis that electricity produced using gas produces fewer emissions per kilowatt-hour than electricity […]

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