February 13th, 2008 by Rightsideup

This has been well covered today, but one of the better summaries is here. In essence, scientists have discovered that the use of biofuels, which was to have helped in the global warming problem and has therefore been encouraged mandated by the government, is actually worse for the environment than what it’s replacing. The problem is that biofuels are derived from plants and other naturally growing materials, and harvesting those contributes far more to CO2 in the atmosphere than any study on the benefits of biofuels has previously taken into account.

So, can we please slow down just a little bit with our solutions to climate change? Even if there is “consensus” about the reality and causes of climate change, it appears we have rather further to go until there is consensus about which measures will help rather than hinder the cause.

This will also be an interesting test case of whether government can ever reverse itself and lift regulation it has imposed – it seems obvious at this point that it’s the right thing to do, but I have a sneaking suspicion it won’t happen…

February 8th, 2008 by Rightsideup

A two-fer from the WSJ today, but this one was actually via the Freakonomics blog, which had a shorter and more interesting take. Stephen Dubner suggests that there are still some biases which are more acceptable than others, as he originally suggested in the Freakonomics book. Among these are biases against Mormons (he also illustrates that bias against Hasidic Jews may be another example).

As we wrote in Freakonomics, evidence from the TV show Weakest Link suggested that bias against women and blacks was considered less acceptable than bias against Latinos and the elderly… Based on today’s newspapers, at least, it looks like Hasidic Jews and Mormons probably wouldn’t have done so well on Weakest Link either.

The WSJ article itself is a little long-winded and unstructured but cites lots of people talking about the problem without much insight. But this will be a theme well worth revisiting in a few months. If Romney is going to come back, that makes sense if his main problem was his perceived lack of commitment to big ideological stances. But if this was the real reason he didn’t win, he might easily pour millions more dollars down the drain if he ran again.