Archive

  • The Small Changes in Consumption Can Make the Peak Flatter...For a Little While...

    Hey, Prof. Goose from The Oil Drum here. As I mentioned in my first couple of posts, there are many constituent parts of the peak oil/energy issue. These parts include production, consumption, policy, mass psychology, environmental/green concerns, corporate/business interests, geology and exploration, and finally alternative sources of energy. One of the things we've been doing at TOD is trying to talk about the little things that we can do to make the ride down Hubbert's Peak a little flatter, allowing society to come in for a soft landing. If we can reduce the consumption of petroleum-based products, thereby lowering demand of petroleum, we can make the plane at least level out instead of go crashing into the ground at high speed. The problem is what scholars in economics/political science/public choice call the free rider problem as related to the tragedy of the commons , the idea being that it is completely irrational for individuals to use as much of a public resource (the...
  • Attack of the Undead Network

    Speaking of lifeless corpses shambling around in various states of decomposition, what the hell is CNN becoming? This is just sad: In their drive to become the National Local News channel, they are dragging previously anonymous novelties in front of their cameras in order to suck out a few extra days of life. The damage this horror does to its victims is no more evident then in this photo of a bewildered and frightened child who is having his private embarrassment turned into a national curiosity and the sustenance of an undead network. Shame on them. - The Jew
  • The Zombie Myth

    Yesterday PZ Myers threatened me with an attack by a zombie . Zombies are perhaps the movie monster that I find most compelling. I’ve actually had nightmares about zombies. As a child I was afraid of ghosts, and I am not afraid of zombies in the same way that I was afraid of ghosts, indeed, I am not really that scared of zombies. But the idea does occasionally give me some very weird and unsettling dreams. In addition, I find the idea compelling. I find my self sort of day dreaming about what would happen if the world turned into a Romero movie , not out of fear, but just because it’s sort of fun, really there is no better word for it then compelling. But why is it so compelling?
  • Judicial Review And Democracy I: Beyond the "Counter-majoritarian Difficulty"

    I was interested to see Rosenfeld and Yglesias discuss Jeffrey Rosen’s article in last week’s Times Magazine, in which Rosen discovered that courts often tend to represent national majorities. Oddly, my co-blogger Dave and I presented a paper at the Law & Society conference on this very topic. The late Alexander Bickel wrote a book, The Least Dangerous Branch , that was enormously influential in the development of legal theory in the Warren Court era. Bickel articulated the way the democratic legitimacy of the courts had generally been evaluated in famous language: “The root difficulty is that judicial review is a counter-majoritarian force in our system…when the Supreme Court declares unconstitutional a legislative act or the action of an elected executive, it thwarts the will of representatives of the actual people of the here and now; it exercises control, not in behalf of the prevailing majority, but against it. That, without mystic overtones, is what actually happens.” (1962...
  • Consumption and the Facts about our Oil Laden Food Chain

    (This post is by Ianqui from The Oil Drum ). That oil is consumed by public and private transportation and industry is a no brainer. However, another, perhaps more important reason petroleum is so vital to our economy, beyond transportation, is that it takes a lot of fossil fuel just to produce the food that we eat every day. When I stop to think about this, I get this image of gasoline being poured on my food. Pictured that way, the idea that we use a lot of oil on food is easy to dismiss, but the truth is that there are myriad ways that oil makes it into the food chain. And this is something we must be aware of, since once there are oil shortages, it's not just going to be lines at the pump--there might also be lines at the grocery stores.
  • Understanding the Current State of Energy Supply and Demand

    Scott Lemieux asked a very good question in the comments a couple of posts ago: "Roughly what percentage of energy consumption is taken up by the internal combustion engine, and what by energy production? The higher the latter, the more difficult the long-term problems (of peak oil) would seem to me, although perhaps it doesn't really matter much." The first part of my answer comes from an interview with T. Boone Pickens who started Mesa Petroleum Company in 1956 with a $2,500 investment and built it into the largest independent oil and gas company in America and now runs one of the largest energy hedge funds. T. Boone does a nice job of explaining why he thinks we are at the tipping point. (In fact, today he had a couple of quotes about oil testing $70/bbl soon and a couple of other related topics . He's been right so far.) "Let me tell you some facts the way I see it. Global oil (production) is 84 million barrels (a day). I don't believe you can get it any more than 84 million...
  • Parting At The Crossroads

    My apologies for stepping in Matt Holt's territory, but I was preparing this quick post before Ezra's intervention (which makes it even more relevant), so I'd thought I'd go ahead anyway. I wanted to strongly recommend Antonia Maioni's superb book Parting at the Crossroads , which is a comparative study of the emergence of different health care policies in the United States and Canada. To put it in Brad Plumer's terms, Maioni (like Brad) emphasizes the importance of structural factors, with some additional explanations based on Canadian federalism and party politics. The Canadian case is particularly illuminating because it allows us to control for factors that are not controlled for in comparisons to Europe. Maioni's study makes it clear that three of the factors adduced by Plumer have been overrated in their importance. The strength of organized labor cannot explain the difference because at the time Canada developed its single-payer system organized labor was significantly weaker...
  • Pointer From Idyllwild

    Ezra here. This post of Brad Plumer's on different explanations for America's strangely absent universal health system is fantastic, you should all read it. Moreover, I'd love to see [guest blogger] Matt Holt's response. Alrighty-then. Back to vacation.
  • Accountability Schmaccountability

    Shakes here... As an appropriate follow-up to Durbin’s apology for calling out the heinous nature of abuses going on at Gitmo, the White House has rejected the proposed creation of an independent commission to investigate abuses of detainees held at Gitmo and elsewhere. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the Pentagon has launched 10 major investigations into allegations of abuse, and that system was working well. “People are being held to account," he said. "And we think that's the way to go about this." Oh yeah—like who? Lynndie England? Swell.
  • Health care costs -- what's behind this inexorable rise

    This is Matthew Holt , back with more on why health care costs so dang much. Health Affairs (the essential peer reviewed health policy journal) has an article from the very well respected Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) which announces that the decrease in the increase of health spending has stalled (here's the slightly more digestible press release ). No kidding, the press release starts off with this line. See if you can get the gobbledygook here: " The reprieve from faster-growing health care costs stalled in 2004 as costs per privately insured American grew 8.2 percent" The good news is that nominal GDP growth (real growth plus inflation) was 5.2% in 2004, so health care costs (the 8.2%) were less than double that. So in the bizzaro world of American health care, it's still something of a success when health care is expanding only are only a little under double the rate of the rest of the economy or less than three times the inflation rate. That's why health care...

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