Links for Week Ending 2nd June

  • Harvard’s Martin Weitzman, one of the world’s leading economists, has written extensively on climate change related risk. Here is an article he recently did for PBS outlining the risks we face. This is the concluding paragraph: “Admittedly, almost all of the relevant probabilities in this kind of rough analysis are uncomfortably indeterminate. But that is the nature of the beast here and shouldn’t be an excuse for inaction. The bottom line is that if we continue on a business-as-usual trajectory, then there is some non-trivial probability of a catastrophic climate outcome materializing at some future time. Prudence would seem to dictate taking action to cut back greenhouse gas emissions significantly. If we don’t start buying into this insurance policy soon, the human race could end up being very sorry should a future climate catastrophe rear its ugly head.”
  • On a more positive note, Teslar Motors, the electric car maker, appears to be on a roll, with a very positive financial results announcement and a soaring share price. Daniel Gross asks whether we are at the electric car tipping point at The Daily Beast. And via The Browser, the superiority of plug versus pump.
  • Meanwhile, solar photovoltaic systems appear to be getting closer to its own tipping point: the point where they can compete directly with fossil fuels without subsidies. The benchmark annual report tracking this trend in the U.S. is the Berkeley Lab’s “Tracking the Sun”, which you can find here. Unlike with Tesla, the solar price collapse has been a disaster for the profitability of the industry (and thus its ability to finance ongoing R&D), but there are some tentative signs of revenue improvement here as well.
  • Nonetheless, Weatherdem has a nice set of graphics that puts the renewables roll-out into context. Unfortunately, the scale of investment required is still breath-taking.
  • Every month, the European unemployment stats are published by Eurostat and every month they get worse. Extraordinary that there has not been more social unrest.
  • The annual update of the OECD’s Better Life Index (BLI) came out on 27th May. The BLI was launched in 2011, so we only have three years of data. However, the collapse in perceived life satisfaction in the southern tier European countries has been staggering. Portugal is at the bottom of the table with a score of one out of 10, followed by Greece (1.3) and Turkey (2.0). I was surprised that Turkey was near the bottom of the table given the economic boom it has been experiencing.I guess this accounts for the recent riots.

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