July 29, 2008

A Maggie's Farm trifecta

Three excellent links at Maggie's Farm today: On the ten Capitalist things all economists believe -- from City Journal:
Economics Does Not Lie
The dismal science is at last a science�and the world is the beneficiary.

Though economics as a discipline arose in Great Britain and France at the end of the eighteenth century, it has taken two centuries to reach the threshold of scientific rationality. Previously, intuition, opinion, and conviction enjoyed equal status in economic thought; theories were vague, often unverifiable. Not so long ago, one could teach economics at prestigious universities without using equations and certainly without the complex algorithms, precise (though not infallible) mathematical models, and computers integral to the field today.

No wonder bad economic policies ravaged entire nations during the twentieth century, producing more victims than any epidemic did. The collectivization of land in Russia during the twenties, in China during the fifties, and in Tanzania during the sixties starved hundreds of millions of peasants. The uncontrolled printing of currency destabilized Weimar Germany, facilitating the rise of Nazism. The nationalization of enterprises and the expulsion of entrepreneurs ruined Argentina during the forties and Egypt a decade later. India�s License Raj�requiring businesses to obtain a host of permits before opening their doors�froze the country�s economic development for decades, keeping millions impoverished.
What follows is a fascinating read on the history and present science of economics and a list of ten items that are true. The first is this:
1. The market economy is the most efficient of all economic systems.
Love or hate the idea, it is the truth. The second from Maggie's Farm is this rant on Nancy Pelosi by Don Surber:
Pelosi: �I�m trying to save the planet�
Who asked her to?

I finally figured out why liberals turn me off. It�s their egos. They think they know everything and must save the rest of us mouth-breathers from ourselves.

Democrat Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco was elevated to House Speaker in January 2007 on a promise of doing a lot of junk within her first 100 hours of taking office.

Thank God, she broke that promise.

But now she is on a mission to save the planet.
Read on -- it will be good when she has her final day in office. I am getting very tired of her delusional views and ineffective (thank God!) micromanagement. The final link at Maggie's Farm regards Carbon. From Classical Values:
The Globe Reverberates With Laughter

Peter Huber in Forbes takes a look at the reality of carbon hysteria.
A number of influential people in Russia, China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam say the planet is now entering a 30-year cooling period, the second half of a normal cycle driven by cyclical changes in the sun's output and currents in the Pacific Ocean. Their theory leaves true believers in carbon catastrophe livid.

To judge by actions, not words, the carbon-warming view hasn't come close to persuading a political majority even in nations considered far more environmentally enlightened than China and India. Europe's coal consumption is rising, not falling, and the Continent won't come close to meeting the Kyoto targets for carbon reduction. Australia is selling coal to all comers.
We used to have a saying in my day: "actions speak louder than words". Today it is "Pay no attention to the fat man, who used to be Vice President, behind the curtain."
No serious student of global politics can accept the notion that the world will soon join ranks behind Brussels, Washington and the gloomy computer and its minders. Dar is surely right when he says, "The U.S. and Japan will not tell Asia and Africa to choose poverty, disease, hunger and illiteracy over electricity." Europe might, but nobody will listen. It won't have moral authority until its own citizens are emitting less carbon than Bangladeshis. That won't happen soon.
What is happening all over Europe? They have plans to build a lot of coal fired power plants. Yep. Coal fired power plants. That would be plants that use (for practical purposes) 100% carbon. Not oil. Not natural gas. Both of which are a lot more expensive than coal. So they are buying based on price not catastrophe.
So does the climate computer have a real audience, or is it really just another bag lady muttering away to herself in a lonely corner of the intellectual park? That the computer is heard in Hollywood, Stockholm, Brussels and even some parts of Washington is quite beside the point--they have far less global power and influence than they vainly imagine. Vinod Dar is right: "Contingency planning should entail strategic responses to a warming globe, a cooling globe and a globe whose climate reverberates with laughter at human hubris."
Freeman Dyson says the cheapest way to deal with our carbon "problem" is plant trees. If we are in a hurry we should genetically modify the trees to absorb the carbon faster than our current stock of trees does. We do need to be careful. Below 200 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere some types of plants do not do well. So we might want to set the minimum of CO2 in the atmosphere at 300 ppm to give us a margin for error.

Of course if CO2 is not really a problem, the cheapest thing to do and the best for plants is to do nothing. Plants just love CO2 and for most of them the optimum CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is around 5,000 ppm. We have a long way to go to get there. Many centuries worth of burning carbon based fuels. In any case we are not going to be burning much fossil fuel in 2100 due to the advance of solar and wind technologies, not to mention the definite possibility of fusion power.
Fusion is starting to look very interesting. The Bussard Polywell fusor project has been given a grant from the US Navy. Tabletop fusion has never been an issue -- Philo T. Farnsworth (who invented Television as we know it back in the early 1930's (the first part of his system back in 1927). He developed a successful tabletop fusion reactor in the 1960's. No known as the Farnsworth-Hirsch fusor, these units provide isotopes and neutrons for hospitals and make excellent science projects for the advanced home experiment. The one crucial thing is that they will always take more energy in than they will put out. The people carrying on Bussard's designs are very close to unity and the machine is working well. -- "The machine runs like a top" was the money quote... Posted by DaveH at July 29, 2008 8:54 PM
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