Sir Nicholas’ Big Book of Answers, part 2

I’m pretty impressed at the coverage the Stern Review is getting:
Dom Post – Major warning sounded on climate change
OneNews – Report measures cost of climate change
BBC – Climate change fight ‘can’t wait’

But with the help of the bold new intarwebs, you can read it yourself, the short exec summary.

Some brief quotes:
“if we don’t act, the overall costs … of climate change will be equivalent to losing at least
5% of global GDP each year, now and forever… estimates of damage could rise to 20% of GDP or more.”
“In contrast, the costs of action can be limited to around 1% of global GDP each year.”
“The costs of stabilising the climate are significant but manageable; delay would be dangerous and much more costly.”
“Tackling climate change is the pro-growth strategy for the longer term”
“Climate change is the greatest market failure the world has ever seen… Three elements of policy are required for an effective global response. The first is the pricing of carbon”

(The whole thing, if you’re bored at work for a week.)

Sir Nicholas’ Big Book of Answers

There’s three questions that matter, when it comes to climate change:

  1. Is it happening?
  2. Is it worth doing something about it?
  3. Who pays?

The first is settled, has been for ten years. The second, well today1 sees the release of a weighty tome about the costs. And it’s not coming from a bunch of smelly hippies2, it’s not concerned about survival of the Lesser Spotted Bolivian Tree Slug, it’s coming from the UK Treasury and written by Sir Nicholas Stern, ex-head of the World Bank. That’s pretty solid.

And the answer to question 2 is definite. Doing something costs far less than doing nothing. By a factor of about 20, making this the best investment that we could make.

Also please note, that news article is in the Business section, wot important people read.

So that brings us on to the hardest question – who pays? Sir Nick reckons its worthwile3 spending about 1% of GDP on doing something about it. And that will pay for itself, at some point in the future, many times over. But the costs start now, and 1% in NZ means about a billion dollars. And that’s lots of schools, roads, hospitals and hip transplants that won’t be happening. All this pain now, for some vague benefit4 at some point in the future.

How can that be politically sustainable? People are simply crap at making decisions with far-off benefits, witness the number of people who still smoke. We don’t like being told what’s good for us and we don’t like change, witness the fuss over smoke-free bars and realise that New Zealand is up there with Bhutan, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, and Italy in the complete list of countries that have banned smoking in bars. Everywhere else, you’re still allowed to poison your neighbours and friends, so who’s really going to give a damn about poisoning the climate? So how are we going to get people to vote for this?

Anyway, something practical tonight, at a time people can get to:
What you can do about climate change – panel discussion – 5.30 tonight in Thorndon

Jez & Andrea’s 2nd annual PARTY WITH SCIENCE!!!

Some ideas to get you started:
Demonstration of the motion pathways of the human body in response to aural stimulation!
Transduction of oscillating electromagnetic waves into longitudinal ambient pressure waves!
An investigation into the effects of ingestion of pharmacologically active substances!
Experiments in the nucleation and solidification of dihydrogen monoxide!
A full scale, working particle accelerator!
The world’s first anti-gravity device!
Cold fusion – it really works!
Giant radioactive kittens!
GM cake!
WOW!!!!! TRULY AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sat November 11, 8pm onwards
6 Cardall St, Newtown
* Publication in international journal guaranteed, or your money back

Climate change – The new questions

The science was settled ten years ago, but it takes ten years to filter through. The economics, however, lag. We’re starting to have some good answers to “how much will it cost”. The answer, probably, is that it will cost one hell of a lot more to let climate change hit us, than it will to do something about it.

And by “one hell of a lot more”, we’re talking tens of trillions of dollars. Possibly hundreds.

Getting that message across is the next step, coz if it takes ten years for this answer to filter its way through to voters… that’s ten years more emissions and ten years closer to the tipping points, whereupon the cost really start to go up.

Anyway, this week’s editorial:

Climate change editorial – the new questions

Food-miles editorial

These editorials go out to a range of people, including several journalists. So I was most pleased to hear back from one, pretty quickly. He wants to run this as a special guest editorial in his paper! Woohoo! World fame!

The paper is the North Taranaki Midweek.

But hey, press is press.


Katipo Menu

The menus at Katipo have changed. No more bar snacks after five pm, i.e. no chips, wedges, toasties or nachos. Its expensive meals only.

Well, after some consultation and discussion between Dave and several customers, its announced that the 5 pm rule is more of a guideline, and a flexible approach will be taken.


Note to self: When taking nurofen, remember to swallow it. Do not forget that you’re taking nurofen and start sucking on the sweet candy in your mouth. Coz you rapidly get through the sweet candy covering, and to the utterly, utterly foul stuff underneath.


Sick but not bored

I hate being bored, so normally I hate being sick. Lying there, all listless, wanting to Do Stuff but not capable. But not this time. This time, I just want to sleep. That passes the time quite nicely.

Me no K tonight.

Last economics lecture ever!

“In the year of our Lord 1432, there arose a grievous quarrel among the brethren over the number of teeth in the mouth of a horse. For thirteen days the disputation raged without ceasing. All the ancient books and chronicles were fetched out, and wonderful and ponderous erudition such as was never before heard of in this region was made manifest. At the beginning of the fourteenth day, a youthful friar of goodly bearing asked his learned superiors for permission to add a word, and straightway, to the wonderment of the disputants, whose deep wisdom he sore vexed, he beseeched them to unbend in a manner coarse and unheard-of and to look in the open mouth of a horse and find answer to their questionings. At this, their dignity being grievously hurt, they waxed exceeding wroth; and, joining in a mighty uproar, they flew upon him and smote him, hip and thigh, and cast him out forthwith. For, said they, surely Satan hath tempted this bold neophyte to declare unholy and unheard-of ways of finding truth, contrary to all the teachings of the fathers. After many days more of grievous strife, the dove of peace sat on the assembly, and they as one man declaring the problem to be an everlasting mystery because of a grievous dearth of historical and theological evidence thereof, so ordered the same writ down.” – Francis Bacon, 1592

“The story goes that in early summer 1941, Stalin, worried about intelligence warnings of an imminent German attack, told his man in Berlin to keep an eye on the price of mutton. He reckoned that if the Germans were planning an invasion, they’d need lots of wool for winter clothing, so mutton would be dear. (Or was it sheepskin, and mutton cheap? Whatever.) The answer reassured Stalin. The mutton market was steady. Which meant that all the incoming warnings were disinformation…

Little did Stalin guess that the Wehrmacht expected to be in Moscow that summer, so it hadn’t ordered any winter woolies at all.” – Ken Macleod, 2006

Weekly randomness

Walrus plays peek-a-boo:

You can find everything on the net, even comments from someone who claims to have snogged Polly Jean Harvey, which I’d have kept quiet about myself, for fear of having my legs broken my enraged fanboys. Apparently, too toothy.

I just like Kimonogirl’s heading

Word of the week – “metallosupramolecular”

From a post on being green:
“I used an obsidian knife to clean the road kill antelope on 267. The meat is drying in the sun. Gonna drive the Suburban up and fetch another when the time comes.” – I think that’s sarcasm. I hope that’s sarcasm.

“Denmark’s animal bordellos reportedly draw Norwegian clients” Argh! You sick f.cks! SFW, though not safe for kittens.

Beedogs! Why?

Work email replies that I’m not allowed to send, part 18356, in response to:
> There are now over 200 ring binders ready for use in the cupboards in the
> Lecture Room. Please help yourselves
“Can I take them all and use them to build a castle in my office?”

part 2 – LJ messing me about

This is, supposedly, an area where game theory is helpful. So let’s see, what does this do to their bargaining position? If they make a credible claim they’ve got nukes but don’t test one, then that’s a strong position to be in, you can’t call people’s bluff if they’ve got nukes. If they test one and it works, this strengthens their position – no-one can doubt that they’ve got one, hence they can argue for more bribes (food, electricity, and fuel, its imports that feed them). But, if they test one and it sucks, then they become less of a threat, coz it demonstrates their technical and political incompetance. And that’s what happened. Nukes are 1940s technology and they can’t even get that right.

The main threat they can make now is to give their (heavy, weak, unreliable) nukes to terrorists, but that can be dealt with by inspections of everything cargo coming out of NK, and that’s what I hope we’ll see.

Or Georgie-boy could just go blow stuff up.


Part 1

North Korea tests a nucular bomb. Its probably a dud – you don’t want it going off in your face, but it didn’t make as big a bang as it should have.

All of War Nerd‘s dreams seem to be coming true, but I think he’s wrong on this one. NK can already demolish Seoul without nukes, but they haven’t got working ICBMs, so they can’t deliver that nukes anywhere other than SK. So its of no use other than making themselves look bad and giving everyone else the excuse to bomb them further into the stone age.