Thursday assorted links

1. Knowable Magazine.

2. Refugees in Denmark do much better in Copenhagen.

3. Carbon capture update (NYT, good piece).

4. Is Africa converting China?

5. “Royalties on 1983 Finance Classic ‘Trading Places’ Go Up for Bid.”  “If it holds until the auction closes Wednesday, the current winning bid of $74,700 would obtain a producer’s share of the residuals generated by television rebroadcasts and streaming, worth $7,988 last year(…)”

6. Dylan Matthews of Vox praises Warren G. Harding.


#3 In another comment I made a while ago I mentioned that carbon is king. It's not going anywhere. And that solutions that will ultimately be more effective are those that allow us to burn more carbon more efficiently. Like this. Good luck to them. They're going to need it.

#4 Lol no. Chinese are Chinese. They are communist with Chinese characteristics. They will be Christian with Chinese characteristics. What this ultimately means is - as is happening now - private worship will be tolerated, political machinations will not. That applies to traditional Chinese religious observance as much as it applies to imports. Have no doubt about their lack of sentimentality. Religious threats to the regime will be confronted with massive persecution in the same vein as FaLun DaFa, Xinjiang muslims, or Japans expulsion of Christians in the 16th century. The rule for religion in China is KISS - Keep It Small Stupid.

#5 Turn those machines back on!!!

#6 Rather fair treatment. But it's Vox...

#4 So that is it. Again, the West will stand aside and look while a totalitarian regime persecutes Christians.

If you haven't noticed lately, the West has been too busy helping out its Muslim and Jewish allies so Christians have to wait their turn. Priorities.

So that is how things are.

Christians in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador are the most hated in the supposedly Christian USA. We try to build walls to keep them out and act out casual racism against these amazing followers of Christ.

@#3 - Carbon capture - (EverExtruder): " burn more carbon more efficiently. Like this. Good luck to them. They're going to need it." - yes, good luck is needed since for this 'carbon capture' to work and not violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics, you need to power the "carbon getter" with a non-carbon power source, like nuclear or, in the NY Times article, solar. So at some point, depending on world energy consumption, even if you are using a special catalyst that cuts down on the activation energy needed to capture carbon, you might as well switch to solar power rather than fossil fuels. Think about it and solve for the equilibrium as our host would say.

"...power the "carbon getter" with a non-carbon power source, like nuclear or, in the NY Times article, solar."

" might as well switch to solar power rather than fossil fuels."

1) Nuclear is not a fossil fuel. Additionally - thorium reactors - have potential for the cleanest safest power sources known thus far. I have no problem with powering the 'carbon getter' with nuclear.

2) There is no law that says the "carbon getter" can't be powered with carbon. Of course, it is not neutral at all, but does create a cascading incentive to turn some - maybe more than one - "carbon burner" into a carbon-net-neutral power source through sequestration. There are other ways to get carbon out of the atmosphere.

4) Solar. Sure. Super. Fine. "...might as well switch to solar power." Across the board? Never. Going. to. happen. Never will.

3) My original point was ceasing burning carbon - even marginally - is not possible. Tyler just had a post about this regarding the economics of an outright ban in one country causing 'carbon hording' and price hikes/price decreases in those that don't. Not burning carbon just shifts the pricing and availability for those that will continue, namely China, India and Russia, etc.

Environmental champions keep missing the elephant in the room. The world needs more reliable power than ever, not less. Consuming less energy, less cheap energy (burning carbon) will NEVER HAPPEN. Back to square one. Short of fusion we need to burn more carbon more efficiently.

100% of the coal and oil will be used/burned. IF we choose to stop using it or use less for awhile the next generation will simply refuse that stupidity and begin using it again. Anyone who believes otherwise is a fool. The real problem in the future is what to do when easy, cheap energy is gone. None of the current "alternatives" can survive that inevitability because they too require massive amounts of energy to create.

Australia is the world's largest exporter of coal and will never build another coal power station because they are not cost competitive with other alternatives.

Germany and China will buy your coal.

Our coal producers have been leaving coal briquettes in their toilets because China's coal consumption has been declining since 2013. Our big mining companies have spun off their coal assets to smaller companies to get them off the books.

#3 I don't think this is about Chinese characteristics though. Authoritarian countries alike suppress sources or dissent, from religion, East Asian or not.

Democracies far less so Chinese or East Asian (Taiwan, SK, Japan), or not.

#6 another Vox link

Trading Places was a mildly amusing vehicle for Eddie Murphy and Dan Ayckroyd, not a 'classic'. (It was also sociological nonsense, but that's comedy).

Not that we needed it, but here's proof that Art Deco has absolutely no sense of humor.

Best comment on MR for some time.

Not that we needed it, but here's proof that Art Deco has absolutely no sense of humor.

Translation: msgkings is embarrassed to admit she bought the video and has viewed in 11x

Hardly. I'm proud to admit I've seen it probably 20 times, and have it memorized. But I'm GenX and funny, you're a humorless grumpy Baby Boomer.

Also I'm Alex's intern not Tyler's.

To be fair, I think everyone in Upstate NY in the winter months is grumpy. Especially the 70+ crowd.

Living in Rochester can’t be fun no matter what the season either....

I'm from Rochester. Ya I left but it's decent place to live for no money and actually can be quite fun.

I picture Art as looking like one of the Dukes.

Sold out when it was in my local theater. This year.

Describe your local theater. As in # of seats and ticket prices.

"Classic" so often means in practice "memorable enough, dated from before I hit my 30s", hence these generational disagreements.

#4: Why no Islamic conversions? Is it because the Chinese government treats Islam differently? Or does Christianity just resonate more with Chinese ex-pats?

#6: There are few people in this topsy turvy world whose opinions I value less than Dylan Matthews.

Dylan who?

Maybe Vox got Harding right. Still they don't match the twice a day correct record of the fabled stopped analog clock.

They could get it correct if they employed an infinite number of primates, tapping an infinite number of keyboards for eternity.

That is a good question and similar to what I was wondering about. If the CCP pragmatically accepts christianity's growth while remaining more intolerant of other non Chinese, non communist beliefs the internal tensions will only increase.

Will it make 75, 80 or 100 without increasingly bloody controls?

1. Nice. Not sure what the backstory is on this place, but I liked this one:

Yeah, I had not heard of Knowable before. Several interesting articles, but a bit long and meandering relative to the info they contain. I'm undecided, but leaning against signing up for their newsletter. Hopefully the especially good articles will be linked to by people on the web e.g. Tyler.

6. Here's a review of a new book about American exceptionalism:


When the low hanging fruits are ignored, we know that it is financed by dumb money, or by government, but I repeat myself!

The low fruit here is capture at big stationary emitters of CO2, namely coal and natural gas power plants. Since they are ignoring the low hanging fruits, we know this is a scam to enrich themselves from wealth created by others, and deliver little in return.

It is a fair criticism, but possibly addressed in the article

A new and obscure United States tax provision, known as 45Q and signed last year by President Trump, offers a tax credit of up to $50 a ton for companies that bury CO₂ in geologic formations. The credit can benefit oil and gas firms that pump CO₂ underground during drilling work, as well as power plants that capture emissions directly from their smokestacks.

Are they already capturing CO2 and not bothering with concentration? Maybe you don't need the concentrators when that is happening.

And how safe is pumping CO2 underground? I worry about another Cameroon disaster.

Seems pretty safe in Iceland, I don't know the specifics:

Is basalt a sufficient condition, or does it have to be super hot like near a vulcano?

#6. What's the most common weasel words liberals use when they don't have logical arguments?

"Now, it's important to note that Harding's vision of equality didn't involve integration, per se, and he retained a troublesome belief in the reality of race as something more than a social construct."

1. Troublesome
2. Problematic
3. He lashed out

And the list has no end.

The author is just grappling with Harding's legacy.

Wow. Way to pounce on Vox.


I also like the phrase Reverse Voxsplaining, coined by Scott Alexander!

+1. I look forward to the day when Vox, in a rare moment of self awareness, publishes an article entitled "why the word 'problematic' is troublesome, explained", and then closes down.

From #1, "Is it time to bring data to managing?" this shows up way too far from the beginning of the article:

"Making matters worse — ironically — the very people who champion the science-based approach haven’t yet proved that it works with the kind of rigorous study that they would like. In that sense, “the evidence for evidence-based management is almost nonexistent,” admits Rob Briner, an industrial-organizational psychologist and scientific director of the Center for Evidence-Based Management."

3. If we look back at history, we got some wishes and not others. Famously Twitter, but not flying cars.

We may get an easy climate solution, and that would be nice.

But is it bad that wishing seems to be the only plan?

Somewhere in articles on sequestering, they aren't complete unless they include a comment like:

"“The only way that direct air capture becomes meaningful is if we do all the other things we need to do promptly,” Hal Harvey, a California energy analyst who studies climate-friendly technologies and policies, told me recently."

Which of course is unrelated.

"These temperature increases have led to an increase in droughts, heat waves, floods and biodiversity losses .."

The last two IPCC reports clearly state the opposite in the science sections. There has been no increase in floods, droughts, etc. due to the 0.3% rise in average temperature since 1900.

The author, alike most other devout believers in catastrophic anthropogenic climate change, casually mentions “all the other things” as though these “other things” have no negative environmental impact whatsoever. How about mining all the lithium and other rare earth minerals to power millions of electric cars, or the necessary copper? How about all the iron that must be mined and transformed into steel to build hundreds of thousands of windmills? How much toxic waste and land spoilage will result? How many third-world children poisoned? How about millions of acres of solar farms? I’m sure those will be a cozy habitat for wildlife. How about the fact that the US government made a special exemption to allow windmills to chop up eagles and other endangered birds? The climate change priests obsess over the original sin, the discovery and use of the forbidden fruit of fossil fuels. They ignore the environmental catastrophe that their atonment will require.

We have an easy climate solution. It’s called nuclear power and carbon taxes. You finally get to use your Venn diagram.

Climate activists and environmentalists on one side - nuclear power advocates on the other. How big is that middle overlap ?

It’s a weird situation in which the Venn diagram for “people who say they care about x” and “people who advocate obvious cheap solution to x” has almost zero people.

But hey, maybe it was never about climate to begin with.

Ok, you think all you need are nukes. I think that's doubtful, but let me ask:

1) Do you drive an electric car?

2) How soon do you expect the median car and truck to be electric?

3) What kind of public policy do you propose to drive electric adoption?

Clearly you missed “carbon taxes.”

That’s the answer for 1-3. But converting the entire grid to nuclear would make US emissions irrelevant for global warming.

Obviously climate hawks are against both.

You have just proposed a quite radical solution. Carbon taxes to kill the internal combustion engine? And who is going to pay for a complete nuclear overhaul of the electric grid?

I don't suppose you have priced that out?

Nothing radical about it. Carbon tax has been studied to death. Nuclear power has been studied to death. Carbon capture is radical and requires brand new technologies. Carbon tax and nuclear power are old and well proven technologies. The only thin "radical" about them is their politics- which as the author points out, is solely because environmentalists don't support them.

There is no need to make any changes to the grid. Just open nuclear power plants without killing them with regulation.

Note to the audience:

The only reason people invent tall tales like this, high carbon tax and full nuclear (as the right wing plan!), is when they are faking.

Wake us when a Republican sponsors any of it as a bill in Congress. Until then it is a random canard, not even remembered as a "policy" the next day.

Unlike you who heroically figured out how everything is Republicans fault.

Republicans famously campaign on reversing climate laws, Kyoto etc. Own it.

BTW, Donald Trump's on climate change, 2012:

"The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive."

How far has he moved since then? What is his administration's best plan?

Your response to anything you cant really answer is to jeer at Republicans. You are not a hero, you are just another partisan trying to imagine himself as one.

Republicans raised my taxes. They literally had one job and they failed. Yes, it is their fault.

They lowered practically everyone's taxes and dramatically improved the efficiency of the tax code. Don't be a sore loser if you happened to lose out from that increased efficiency.

#1...Thanks. I'd never heard of it. There is also a good story on the Financial Crisis & Risk which led me to the Systemic Risk blog of the Yale Program on Financial Stability which I'd also never come across.

Off-topic, I wonder exactly why it is that New York loses Americans every year fleeing for states that provide more business-friendly environments? Anyone have a theory that fits the data?

1. Loss of certain comparative advantages (about which there isn't much you can do).

2. Neglect of public services - insufficient value for the price.

A disaffected member of the Albany nomenklatura offered some years ago that the driver of state policy was 'business opportunities for insiders'. Some things are done well in New York - and you can't take it away from our political class that they made satisfactory decisions in those areas - but in general you have comparatively high taxes for so-so performance.

The net effect is like air leaking out of a balloon.

Not a balloon. More a beach ball.

Population of NYC 1990 : 7.3 million
Population of NYC 2017: 8.6 million

It’s the jobless hinterlands losing population, not the city. So it ain’t the taxes old man.

Syracuse has lost 20,000, Buffalo 70,000.

Maybe a tax burden/regulatory burden interaction variable with “miles from nearest cultural center” would work. But I think “miles from cultural center” is doing the heavy lifting there.

Strange as it may seem to you, state taxes are collected Upstate as well. The public employee unions operate there as well. The states regulatory apparatus, ditto.

And, while we're at it, there are no 'jobless hinterlands'. People work for a living in Syracuse.

NYC benefits from action taken to reverse a severe and unnecessary decline in the quality of life after 1963, actions which allowed some of its latent advantages to emerge. Not done Upstate, who aren't getting that kind of value.

#6. As Paul Johnson has noted, Warren Harding was a highly underrated President. He released all the harmless folk like Eugene Debs that Woodrow Wilson's AG had locked up during the paranoid Red Scare. His term was a welcome break to prosperity after WW1. And he was a committed anti-racist in a pretty racist age which speaks well of his commitment to fairness and equity. Unlike the Birth of A Nation fan he succeeded.

+1. Learned something interesting about my country's history. It wasn't all dark in those days.

3. Right now I can buy low grade wheat for about $180 US dollars a tonne and have it loaded onto a ship. Each tonne represents about 1.7 tonnes of CO2 that has been taken from the atmosphere. If I dump that just off the continental shelf so it sinks and gets covered in the flow of sediment coming off the shelf, that is carbon captured and sequestered for perhaps $120 a tonne.

Obviously, I would not actually use wheat and would use cheaper biomass so the price should definitely be under $100 per tonne.

It is only practical to capture a small portion of current fossil fuel CO2 emissions in this way but it's something we can do right now and the pieces are all in place, we just have to do the dumping part.

"If I dump that just off the continental shelf so it sinks and gets covered in the flow of sediment coming off the shelf" Are you sure of that? reference maybe? Interesting idea anyway...

How confident are you that these carbohydrates will be sequestered long term, and not broken down by microorganisms?

This is a serious question, not a flippant remark.

This was intended as a response to "Crikey, February 14, 2019 at 4:03 pm"

Pretty confident, although this will need to be investigated. There are a few mechanisms that can contribute to long term sequestering:

1. Dump in an area of sedimentation so the biomass gets buried.
2. Dump in an area where, even if the trapped CO2 is somehow immediately released and dissolved into the ocean water it would take 100+ years to reach the surface.
3. Overwhelm decomposers by continuously dumping on top of them.
4. Dump wood in Antarctic waters that are free of wood borers.

You also have to transport the biomass with little C02 generated, which I find unlikely since I understand that it is not energy efficient to transport wood for energy for long distances.

The cheapest biomass is likely to be agricultural waste from areas that already produce grain for export. The low CO2 transport is already in place. Railway lines in Australia and navigable rivers and canals in some places. Rail freight is about 2 US cents per tonne per kilometer here. That's means the fuel cost of moving 1 tonne of biomass 100 kilometers maxes out at about 4 litres of diesel.

Converting biomass to charcoal (biochar) and using it to amend soil or just burying it is also an option.

Wheat is not going to sink, bro

I wouldn't actually use wheat on account of how it's what we chefs call food. Also, grain tends to be toxic to marine life. Wheat chaff might do. Will that sink in an appropriate time frame or will the bales need some rocks thrown in? There are lots of good questions to pose.

3. One think about greenhouses people often aren't aware of is the air in them is enriched with CO2 in Europe not to increase plant growth, as raising its concentration has little effect on plants that don't suffer from water stress. It is instead an energy saving measure used to avoid having to bring in cold air from outside to replace the CO2 taken up by plants. So those carbon capture machines providing CO2 to the greenhouse were spending energy to provide CO2 used to avoid spending energy.

#3: "entrepreneurs want to remove [CO2] from the air [cheaply]."

CO2 is to plants what oxygen is to us.
What could go wrong?

6. Since when is vox concerned about fact? Mellon was bad because he cut taxes. Vox is garbage socialism.

Typical vox trash-over obsession with defining social progress through the amount of legislation that is brought on line.

I guess why I hate Vox so much is that they’re so dishonest. It’s like at least Mother Jones and the Gaurdian are avowedly socialist. Vox tries this whole technoratic labeling thing and it’s total BS. They’re a bunch of angry socialist millennials and are honestly way more childish than the Gaurdian or Mother Jones.

I’d like to open an inquiry on that economist study which shows a 9 to 21 percent range in the drop of infant mortality as a result of Harding’s passing of that minor welfare act. That’s a significant finding of efficacy for a piece of legislation. I’d love to know how the authors arrived at that.

#2 I wonder how refugees do in Denmark compared to other immigrants. I wonder how that difference compares to the Copenhagen/Rest of Denmark performance differential.

5. There is some blackface in Trading Places so the producer is probably expecting networks to drop the movie soon

I love when people miss the point of the changes all around them. One step from 'old man yelling at clouds' LOL

#3. The search for perpetual motion machines, philosopher's stones, and the fountain of youth (not to mention "the" cure for cancer) continues. Using energy to capture CO2 at trace concentration levels (410 ppm) to put it into soda pop (which will almost all be back in the atmosphere almost as soon as the pop is opened) makes zero sense to me. As already pointed out, this technology makes a lot more sense situated at locations generating high CO2 emissions. Science magazine had a recent (and better) "special report" on carbon capture. Random related thoughts: WSJ recently reviewed a book that claimed that predicted future global population is almost universally wrong - that the population will soon start shrinking....Science mag. had an article about "The Blob", a warm "dead zone" in the Pacific west of the US NW that persisted for two years and led to the virtual complete loss of a fishery and massive die-off of predator species (such as birds and marine mammals). Any real material occupies volume, CO2 is no exception. Injecting it into the ground will cause stress-quakes and possibly catastrophic releases, I'm a bit dubious about how well the technique scales. For a price, I'll be happy to bury your CO2 for you! You will, of course, trust me when send you the invoice with the amount I buried, right? What could go wrong? Carbon Capture will be, I predict, an insignificant sink for CO2 over the next 20 years. It would be better to focus on reduction. I don't understand why so many articles make the preposterous statement that "if we want to limit warming to 2 degrees, then [X,Y & Z0." The only way we're going to limit it to 2 degrees or under is global thermonuclear war, engineered bioweapon, or extinction level event (asteroid strike, superflare, super volcano, gamma ray burst,...)

#3 - the NYT article talks about the improvements made in making ammonia as though we might expect the same in terms of atmospheric CO2 removal technologies. But the way you make improvements in the process industries (like ammonia) is via process intensification (hotter, higher pressure) and scaling up. Neither of which is possible for atmospheric CO2. The best place for CO2 removal is when you have a higher concentrated stream in large quantities - i.e. at a power station. But really it is a pretty silly idea - of all the ways to tackle CO2 emissions this should be about lowest on the list. Almost certainly the cheapest way would be ocean enrichment. We should be doing lots of experiments in this area if we are really worried about CO2 emissions, rather than just engaging in pious signalling and rent seeking from the Government.

3. This carbon capture technology has already advanced more quickly than I expected. I'm glad you're posting more of this sort of content to MR, btw. David Roberts' piece on building de-carbonization might interest you for multiple reasons. Thanks and good luck.

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