Another year another splendid Mays. How the years roll by. This year's playlist is here featuring the usual mix of high-quality hot bumping action and other stuff. See-also rowing photos; and 2022. I continue my indefensibly biased tradition of picturing Caius M2, for their elan1,2.

Caius M2


1. Yes, this is at Xpress Head, I know. But during Mays I'm mostly videoing. If you'd like to see M1, they are available from Andy, with the bonus of being able to see the distance to Maggie.

2. As a counter-example, I was struck by M√ľnchener R.C. at Henley in their race against Nines. Nines are full of passion, the commentators even note it, whereas the Germans are completely controlled



The world’s nations could switch to 100% renewable energy in a few years?

PXL_20230619_064644366 Just a quickie, since I seem to be on a roll. Via Twatter, cleantechnica says "Mark Jacobson and his colleagues at Stanford University have published a new study in the journal Energy & Environmental Science that claims 145 of the world’s nations could switch to 100% renewable energy in a few years using renewable energy technologies available today... The cost of making the changeover to 100% renewable energy would be... $62 trillion".

Can you see the problem? Hmm, well: this past year, total world investments in clean energy were about $1.7t. To spend $62t at 1.6t/y would take 34 years; and anyway only ~$600b of that was renewable power. Of course that £1.7t per year is likely to go up; were you to assume it doubles every year then it would take ~5 years; but that isn't going to happen.

So this is a familiar problem: yes, we can transition to renewables, but no it won't happen in just a few years, we simply lack the industrial and other capacity to do so. Can I have my John McCarthy badge now?

Having written that, I can now try skimming the study itself. I see it makes the usual "it generates jobs" error; it tells you that these people are not economists but it also warns you to be cautious, which is nice.


Measured by the ratio of billionaire wealth to GDP, the US has less inequality than Sweden or France

* Perhaps you'd like to read AH being enthusiastic about the prospects for solar?

UK installations of heat pumps 10 times lower than in France, report finds

Vattenfall says it is stopping British Norfolk Boreas offshore wind farm


Bandit Hoekstra

IMG_20230617_065650_758 AukeHoekstra, a useful source for renewal energy factz, laments that we can't bankrupt [oil companies] before we have weaned ourselves off oil. And this is part of a mish-mash of the usual leftist economic confusions.

BH is sad that oil & gas companies are giving windfall profits to shareholders instead of re-aligning towards clean energy. But why? What else should they do with their profts, except give them to the people that own the companies, or invest them in their business. Only in some bizarre statist fantasy would they direct them towards whatever BH deems most worthy. And he thinks that governments should aim to starve and bankrupt them a.s.a.p. which is distinctly "nice company you've got there, be a shame is something happened to it" type language. It doesn't occur to him that if people stop buying their products the oil companies would be starved without any need for govt muscle.

But that's not all, oh no, that is not all: he also objects to giving subsidies and windfall profits to the oil companies. But this too is bollox: he isn't. The subsidies stuff is largely drivel; and no-one is "giving" windfall profits, other than the people buying the product. That people continue to buy the product despite its price increasing demonstrates how much they value it. If govts care to provide an alternative that is better and cheaper then that would be one solution; although just letting the market do it would be better.


Degrowth and the monkey's paw.

The Case Against (Most) Books - contains some words I'll want to reference one day. Though it weirdly and uncritically refs this piece which gets the Galileo story completely wrong, sigh.


Subsidies, reprise

PXL_20230616_064425965 Via Twatter, yet more subsidies stuff. This time they've decided to consider fossil fuels, agriculture, and fisheries together, presumably so as to get a bigger number. And so they do; about $1.25t direct, compared to ~$500m when thinking only of fossil fuels. Unfortunately - even though this is at least nominally a World Bank report - they are distinctly sloppy in their language: Governments spend a large percentage of their budget on subsidies that exacerbate air pollution and affect the agriculture and fisheries sectors. The magnitude of subsidies for fossil fuels, agriculture, and fisheries is vast and likely exceeds US$7 trillion per year in explicit and implicit subsidies — or approximately 8 percent of global GDP. So here they give the impression that govt spend on subsidies is ~8% of GDP. But of course that's bollox, because that $7t includes "implicit" subsidies, which aren't seen in GDP. If you include only direct, you'd get a rather less impressive 1.4%. Note that explicit Ag subsidies are bigger than FF, and fisheries ones are significantly smaller; implicit Ag subsidies appear to be wildly uncertain, ranging from ~$500b to $5t (but I think much of that in turn comes from GHG effects, so there may be double-counting with the FF subsidies). We get stuff like For fisheries, the largest implicit subsidy is the lack of effective regulations to reduce overcapacity and prevent overfishing, which shows you how far away from the usual meaning of the word "subsidy" we have drifted.

Another amusing point is that when looking at Ag subsidies, they are easily able to see - it's their first point - that Richer countries spend more on agricultural subsidies than poorer countries, even when seen relative to total agricultural production. But when looking at FF direct subsidies, they are unable to say anything about what kind of countries subsidise more. Could that be because when you look, the answer is that its the banana republics, not the West, doing the subsidising? There is a sliver of good news though: Implicit subsidies for fossil fuels... the local impacts of air pollution and global climate change constituting more than 75 percent of the total: so the banana republics are damaging themselves mostly, rather than us. This means that recommendations like Policy makers must fully reflect the health and societal costs of air pollution in the price of fossil fuels are dubious; because most of the damage / implicit subsidy occurs in what you burn and how you burn it, not how much you burn (see e.g. box 2.3). Indeed I'm somewhat dubious that their focus on FF is correct; they need to include "dung".

Perhaps I should note that I'm all for removing harmful subsidies. But I'm doubtful that a somewhat meally-mouthed report that can't bring itself to be honest about who is doing the subsidising, and which sez stuff like Subsidies are important tools that governments can use, is going to help.

Incidentally: I don't think they include negative subsidies (e.g. the EU's ETS) in their totals, and probably should.


In Debate Over Railway Safety Bill, J.D. Vance and Donald Trump Are Leaning to the Left

‘Power and Progress’ Review: Technology and the New Leviathan: Deirdre N. McCloskey on Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson.

Not only will Hollandse Kust Zuid become the world’s largest offshore wind farm it’s also the world’s first offshore wind farm to be built without subsidy.

Orwell’s Falsified Prediction on Empire.

Diversity Really is Our Strength.


Meet the Money Behind The Climate Denial Movement: Reprise

Screenshot_20230615-122749In Meet the Money Behind The Climate Denial Movement? I queried the assertion that Nearly a billion dollars a year is flowing into the organized climate change counter-movement, discovering that it was unsubstantiated: from the info given it was simply impossible to tell. Weirdly, I was not the only one object to such; I discover that persons with whom I probably don't wish to be associated say things like Climate activists often repeat the myth that Big Oil is pouring millions into climate scepticism. The reality is that Big Green's billions are driving climate alarmism worldwide. Although that's not quite the text I want; I want, firstly, In 2019 the climate activist and UCL Geography Professor Mark Maslin wrote that oil companies were spending $200 million a year promoting something he termed “climate change denial”. The ‘dark forces’ claim has been in regular use ever since. That's $200m/y not $1b/y, which is something of a disparity. But it's only oil.

But (via a source I'll get back to in a moment) that at least provides a ref, which is How the oil majors have spent $1Bn since Paris on narrative capture and lobbying on climate by influencemap. Somewhat weirdly, that quotes the five supermajors as spending over $1b in 3 years, or ~300m/y; and refers to a 2022 update which bumps that up to $750m/y. But I doubt there's any real hope for consistency in these numbers. Having now skimmed the report, I don't think they provide enough detail to know if they've done it well or not. I'm doubtful; I think I can leave it at that.

Back to my source, which is I'm afraid to say Ben Pile, and his topic is The monolith of climate smear-mongering. He too (after a few preliminary flings) takes issue with influencemap's methodology; I leave you to judge his prose. But he then continues on to How big is the green blob, compared to big oil? which might be interesting. If he's done it well. Picking those that have funded influencemap, and then adding their total spend, he comes to 1.275b/y, or in his words In total, InfluenceMap’s funders are making grants of roughly $1.2 billion per year to climate change lobbying. Can we rely on his arithmetic? Given that he is trying to criticise "the other side" for sloppy accounting, we'd hope that he would in return strive for precision.

He estimates $478m/y for the climateworks foundation, wot I've never heard of. But they have financial information. Which allows us to see their form 990s, year by year. They've had a good 2021: income has more than doubled over 2020, as have grants. But their total expenses for the year is only $180m which is waay smaller than $478m, and not all of that can be lobbying anyway. Number 2 is the IKEA foundation, for which BP claims $334m/y; from their own report I find USD 118.7 million (62%) to climate action (SDG 13). But I think from the context that much of the money is double-counted in the sense that any one grant can count towards a number of different areas. So that's two strikes for BP and I can't be bothered to go to the third.

My overall conclusion is that no-one is producing any reliable numbers in this area.


Scientists warned about climate change in 1965. Nothing was done?

PXL_20230602_130259904 More of the same, of course, so I won't waste too much of your time. knowablemagazine saysA report to the US president sounded an alarm — humankind was ‘conducting a vast geophysical experiment’ by burning fossil fuels and filling the atmosphere with an ‘invisible pollutant.’ But a slick campaign by Big Oil led to confusion, politicization and dire consequences for the planet. But as usual, we should pause and wonder if this is actually true. And, as usual, it isn't. The report to the Prez is truthy - and that was in 1965. The mag then asks So why weren’t climate scientists listened to earlier? Why did this warning direct to the president of the United States not lead to any significant efforts to change course for decades thereafter? And Oreskes (for it is her, as I'm sure you guessed) replies But by the 1980s... the science becomes more specific, more quantitative. And in 1988, the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is created specifically to summarize and assess the scientific evidence on this problem, in order to report to governments, who would then act upon it... that’s when the fossil fuel industry changes course. And that’s when they make what I consider to be a fatal and, in my opinion, tragic choice: Rather than accepting the science and beginning to think how they could change their business model to address the problem, they go down the path of disinformation and obstruction. And that is true too, or true enough for our purposes.

So what is false: the idea that we knew what was going on in 1965, and Evil Oil Companies somehow derailed this. Because that is drivel: by their own timeline, there was more than two decades between their precious report of 1965 and the disinfo. The truth, of course, is that we didn't know what was going on as early as 1965.

Note that the report-to-the-Prez in 1965 is only truthy, because they fail to note that the bits dealing with CO2 are shuffled off into an appendix; see Retread: Just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made global warming emissions?


How an Early Oil Industry Study Became Key in Climate Lawsuits?

A Wealth Tax Reality Check

* Truth Serum: The Other Ehrlich Bets: Desroches/Geloso/Szurmak's Analysis

Heterodox vs. mainstream macroeconomics