In which I am disappointed with Bryan Caplan

landmark As some of you may have noticed, I rather like the Libertarian worldview, despite generally disagreeing with them about GW; see-also Talking with the taxman about carbon. Bryan Caplan is generally very good, on economics and politics and related matters. But his recent forays into GW have been regrettable.

Now we have Sell The Magic wherein he proposes a PR campaign in favour of nuclear power, or something of that nature. The underlying fact that he is complaining about - that nukes are much safer than everyone thinks, and that they wouldn't be so expensive with dumb over-regulation - is true enough; but while I wish him luck I also note his lack of any ideas as to how to achieve his goal.

But also, that wasn't what I wanted to write about; which was his: solar and wind are currently a grossly inadequate substitute for fossil fuels which just seems weirdly wrong. Or at the least I'd expect links to some kind of credible analysis to back it up. Currently, solar and wind are hovering around being economic alternatives to FFs, depending on exactly what scenario you look at; are increasing raipdly; and are likely to get cheaper in contrast to FFs, which aren't1. Unfortunately, I kinda know where he is getting his "facts" from, because he has been reading Alex Epstein (more; more). Once upon a time I would have foamed at the mouth about this2 but now I am more mellow; and I don't really want to read FF myself. I don't commit myself to the fairy-dust stuff about easily replacing all FFs, but clearly the majority are heading that way.


1. Once you remove the current unexpected carbon tax, that is.

2. See Science advances one funeral at a time but especially the links, e.g. to Timmy. Ah, the fun we used to have!


* U.S. Slavery and Economic Thought by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel

* Classical liberalism vs. The New Right by  Tyler Cowen

Sorry, I Still Think I Am Right About The Media Very Rarely Lying - ACX. What's also interesting here is how exactly his readers responses parallel what I saw during the GW wars: I'd say X, people would say "oh no certainly not here is person Y saying not-X", and lo and behold when you actually read it, they didn't say that at all.


Tom said...

Well, okay--I'll provide a scenario that is at least good for America, maybe elsewhere.

The big obstacles to nuclear are liability, NIMBYism and multiple rounds of environmental review.

Have the federal government build nuclear plants on fairly remote federal lands. Have the federal government self insure. Hell, use the same outfits that build nuclear plants for the Navy. Use government inspectors and claim sovereign right to do all this.

Phil said...

"fairy-dust stuff about easily replacing all FFs"

Yes, there is some of that. There are some hard to replace uses that usually are not clearly considered.

80% replacement or so is realistic, however. 40% or so is profitable even without subsidies or carbon taxes. Carbon fuels are used for these because of inertia, not economics or reason.

One example is induction stove tops.

A gas stove top is about 32% efficient in that 1/3 of the energy in the gas actually goes into cooking the food. An induction stove top is about 85% efficient.


Add into this making indoor air cleaner, which has a measurable reduction in health effects, reduced cooking time, easier cooking, fewer hot things making it safer and so on.

Economics and reason would have most cooking with induction stoves. Sure this is a new technology, and phase in will take decades. But still few are buying induction stove tops.

Inertia keeps the gas flowing.
(Typo correction)