Results for “air pollution”
112 found

Assorted links

1. One million mummies.

2. Schemes to clean up Beijing’s air.

3. National security Christmas gifts.

4. How do people encounter bourbon?

5. Krugman’s model of monetary impotence. and more here.  I say if there is no representative agent, there is a game-theoretic scramble for goods in period one, following an increase in the (purely current) money supply.  That said, you still shouldn’t expect the quantity equation to apply to the monetary base.  Scott Sumner responds here.  Empirically, the problem is to explain both Switzerland and the UK (some price inflation over five percent), not to cite one or the other.  I say that depends on what the central bank/government wants, not time consistency issues by the way.

6. Does the plasticity of human nature favor conservatism?

The Kuznets curve in India strikes back

Indian industries have often complained that convoluted environmental regulations are choking off economic growth. As a candidate, Mr. Modi promised to open the floodgates, and he has been true to his word. The new government is moving with remarkable speed to clear away regulatory burdens for industry, the armed forces, mining and power projects.

More permanent changes may be coming. In a report made public last week, a high-level committee assigned to rewrite India’s environmental laws assailed the existing regulatory system, saying it has “served only the purpose of a venal administration” seeking to extract bribes.

To speed up project approvals, the committee recommended scrapping a layer of government inspections; instead, it said, India should rely on business owners to voluntarily disclose the pollution that their projects will generate and then monitor their own compliance, an approach the committee described as “the concept of utmost good faith.”

That is from Ellen Barry and Neha Thirani Bagri.  I am a fan of Michael Greenstone’s work, but I did not find this recent piece on Indian pollution sufficiently penetrating.

China fashion markets in everything

Fashionistas no longer have to choose between looking stylish and protecting their lungs.

Next week, Beijing- and Hong Kong-based designer Nina Griffee, owner of face-painting and body art company Face Slap, will introduce a new line of outfits that incorporate face masks on the runway as part of a collection at Hong Kong Fashion Week.

Even the designer, who was born in England, admits that the eight outfits she’s created to launch the line – which look something like burkas for the space age – might not be everyone’s cup of tea. “There’s a fine line between fashion and costume,” she says. “I’m not entirely sure we made it completely into the fashion category.”

Though it isn’t the first time models will have appeared on stage wearing masks, it appears to be the first time the effect is so deliberate.

The outfits incorporate Vogmask pollution masks—already a choice among many of the pollution cognoscenti as the most stylish face coverings—attached by a zipper to shawls, dresses and ponchos. The zipper allows the wearer to remove the mask to dine, for instance, while retaining the high-fashion look.

There is more here, with good stylish photos too.

How good a climate change solution do we need?

Responding to the recent Henry Paulson piece, Paul Krugman writes today:

In policy terms, climate action — if it happens at all — will probably look like health reform. That is, it will be an awkward compromise dictated in part by the need to appease special interests, not the clean, simple solution you would have implemented if you could have started from scratch. It will be the subject of intense partisanship, relying overwhelmingly on support from just one party, and will be the subject of constant, hysterical attacks. And it will, if we’re lucky, nonetheless do the job.

I would put it this way: climate change is like neither the financial crisis nor the Obama health care plan, but above all it is an international problem requiring an international solution.  And it’s not like banning land mines, where most countries have little reason to continue with the practice.  It is also not like ozone, where a coordinated solution is relatively low cost, more or less invisible to voters, threatens few jobs, and involves few incentives for defection.  A climate change solution requires a lot of countries to turn their back on coal-generated pollution long before we did (as measured in per capita income terms) and long before the Kuznets curve suggests they otherwise are going to.  A climate change solution, if done the wrong way, will look to China like a major attempt to unfairly deindustrialize them and, if it is backed by trade sanctions, it will look like an act of war.  Trade agreements do best when most or all of the countries already wish to act cooperatively toward much lower tariffs.  For a green energy solution, China (among others) in fact has to want to solve the problem, as do we.  And the already-installed or in-process coal base in China is…forbidding.

The problem isn’t just coming up with “something better.”  Think of today’s fossil fuels as a stock in the ground.  The problem is coming up with something “better than the lower and falling prices for the fossil fuel stock once some countries start going green.”  That’s really tough, because it means competing against a lower fossil fuel price than what we see today.  What will Africa choose?

In other words, a climate change solution has to involve a relatively cheap form of energy, relative to the status quo.  Not just cheap to citizens because it is subsidized, but cheap to governments and cheap at the national level too.  Alternatively, you could regard all of this as reason to be pessimistic.  But in the meantime, it is entirely reasonable to insist on solutions which can generalized, and that means solutions which are relatively cost-effective.

Should the Future Get a Vote?

Philosopher Thomas Wells argues that future citizens need the vote today:

…future generations must accept whatever we choose to bequeath them, and they have no way of informing us of their values. In this, they are even more helpless than foreigners, on whom our political decisions about pollution, trade, war and so on are similarly imposed without consent. Disenfranchised as they are, such foreigners can at least petition their own governments to tell ours off, or engage with us directly by writing articles in our newspapers about the justice of their cause. The citizens of the future lack even this recourse.

The asymmetry between past and future is more than unfair. Our ancestors are beyond harm; they cannot know if we disappoint them. Yet the political decisions we make today will do more than just determine the burdens of citizenship for our grandchildren. They also concern existential dangers such as the likelihood of pandemics and environmental collapse. Without a presence in our political system, the plight of future citizens who might suffer or gain from our present political decisions cannot be properly weighed. We need to give them a voice.

But how can we solve this problem? Wells has some very good insights:

If current citizens can’t help but be short-sighted, perhaps we should consider introducing agents who can vote in a far-seeing and impartial way. They would need to be credibly motivated to defend the basic interests of future generations as a whole, rather than certain favoured subsets, and they would require the expertise to calculate the long-term actuarial implications of government policies.

But then his solution turns laughable:

Such voters would have to be more than human. I am thinking of civic organisations, such as charitable foundations, environmentalist advocacy groups or non-partisan think tanks.

Well’s solution (give these groups votes) is so tied to his conception of what the “enlightened” future will bring that it clearly fails the far-seeing, impartiality, credibly motivated and expertise requirements that he outlines as desirable. We need not conclude, however, that Well’s plea is disingenuous or impossible but we do need a better implementation.

Robin Hanson’s government of prediction markets (“futarchy“) is a better approach. It is know well understood that relative to other institutions prediction markets draw on expertise to produce predictions that are far seeing and impartial. What is less well understood is that through a suitable choice of what is to be traded, prediction markets can be designed to be credibly motivated by a variety of goals including the interests of future generations.

To understand futarchy note that a prediction market in future GDP would be a good predictor of future GDP. Thus, if all we cared about was future GDP, a good rule would be to pass a policy if prediction markets estimate that future GDP will be higher with the policy than without the policy. Of course, we care about more than future GDP; perhaps we also care about environmental quality, risk, inequality, liberty and so forth. What Hanson’s futarchy proposes is to incorporate all these ideas into a weighted measure of welfare. Prediction markets would then be used to predict and make policy choices based on future welfare. Incorporated within the measure of welfare could be factors like environmental quality many years into the future. 

Note, however, that even this assumes that we know what people in the future will care about. Here then is the final meta-twist. We can also incorporate into our measure of welfare predictions of how future generations will define welfare. We could, for example, choose a rule such that we will pass policies that increase future environmental quality unless a prediction market in future definitions of welfare suggests that future generations will change their welfare standards. It sounds complicated but then so is the problem.

In short, more than any other form of government, futarchy is based on far seeing, impartial, expertise driven and credibly motivated predictions of future welfare and it is flexible enough to allow for a wide definition of welfare including taking into account the interests of future generations.

Hat tip: Carl Close.

The commons are still tragic

Kevin Grier reports:

Paul Krugman points us to the success story of the rebound of US fish stocks. He then makes an amazing leap to climate change saying, “Fighting climate change isn’t really all that different from saving fisheries; if we ever get around to doing the obvious, it will be easier and more successful than anyone now expects.”

I actually agree with the first part, and the Vox article that Krugman links to makes the point pretty well, just not in the way Paul wants it to be made.

Now the big caveat: Yes, US fisheries seem to be recovering. But that’s not true for much of the rest of the world. And, given that the United States imports around 91 percent of its seafood, this is a pretty crucial caveat.

All told, the best-managed fisheries around the world — the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Iceland — only make up about 16 percent of the global catch, according to a recent paper in Marine Pollution Bulletin by Tony Pitcher and William Cheung of the University of British Columbia.

By contrast, more than 80 percent of the world’s fish are caught in the rest of the world, in places like Asia and Africa — where rules are often less strict. The data here is fairly patchy, but the paper notes that many of these nations are less likely to follow the UN’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, and there’s evidence that “serious depletions” may be occurring…

In other words, overfishing, like climate change, is a global problem that the US can’t fix on its own. Our fish stocks are rebounding, and our carbon emissions are falling, but much of the rest of the world is moving in the wrong direction on both issues.

The full post is here.

Robert Frank responds on Black Friday

Here is the email I received from Bob:

I enjoyed your observations about my Black Friday op-ed in Thursday’s NYT.  If you’d permit me to respond, I’d propose to post something like this:

Like Tyler, I think we needn’t worry much about consumers who elect to wait in line for hours in the hope of getting bargains.  That’s indeed wasteful, as one of the commenters pointed out.  But it’s fairly easy to drop out of that game, and some, as Tyler speculates, may actually enjoy the process.

But the arms race that’s led to longer store hours poses a more serious problem for employees, many of whom had little choice but to truncate their holiday time with family and friends.

I had a recent conversation about this issue with a friend in Ithaca who owns a wine store. Traditionally, New York State wine merchants were not allowed to do business on Sundays.  But last year that restriction was repealed, and I asked my friend how the change had affected him.

His overall sales were about the same, he told me.  The change had thus been a clear negative from his perspective, since it meant that he and his wife were no longer able to spend Sundays together with their children.  The upside was that customers who lacked the foresight to shop in advance for their Sunday wine needs could now be accommodated.  If we’re willing to discount the cost of an inconvenience suffered by those who could easily have avoided it, the costs in this case seem clearly to outweigh the benefits.

Even so, an econometrician might find it difficult to convince a skeptic that the former Sunday closing mandate was justified.  Fortunately, a definitive answer to that question isn’t required for an assessment of my tax proposal, which isn’t nearly as costly as a flat prohibition.

Arms races arise because, as Charles Darwin saw clearly, important aspects of life are graded on the curve.  It’s not how strong or fast you are that matters, but rather whether you’re faster or stronger than your direct rivals.  And for merchants, it’s not how early you open that matters, but rather how your start time compares with rivals’.  If the stakes are sufficiently high in such cases, arms races are inevitable.

If staying open longer hours is misleadingly attractive to individual merchants, the best solution is not to prohibit longer hours but rather to make them less attractive by taxing them.  My 6-6-6 tax proposal doesn’t prohibit earlier store hours on Thanksgiving.  It simply makes them less attractive to individual merchants.

Many on the Right are quick to denounce such taxes as “social engineering”–which they usually define as using the tax code “to control our behavior, steer our choices, and change the way we live our lives.”  But that’s what virtually all laws do.  Stop signs are social engineering, as are prohibitions against theft and homicide.  Laws restrict behavior because individuals often choose to behave in ways that cause harm to others.  For someone who cares about personal liberty, discouraging harmful behavior by taxing it should be far less objectionable than prohibiting it outright.

Yet many on the Right suddenly lose their ability to think clearly when confronted by proposals to tax harmful behavior.  The first message I received in response to my Black Friday op-ed, for example, came from a chaired professor of philosophy who had this to say:  “Another sad elitist call for government to butt in so as to promote your special interest.  Maybe there are those who judge the black Friday ride just right for them.  But do you care?  You just know it should be shut down and so you will empower the government to do just that.  Well, over my dead body.”

Oh, please. Perhaps this professor is among those who denounce all taxation as theft.  But mature adults realize that we have to tax SOMETHING.  Right now, we tax many useful activities.  The payroll tax, for example, discourages hiring.  The income tax discourages savings.  Every dollar we can raise by taxing activities that cause harm to others is a dollar less we must raise by taxing beneficial activities.

In my recent book, The Darwin Economy, I defend the claim that taxes on activities that cause undue harm to others could generate more than enough revenue to balance the federal budget and restore our crumbling infrastructure.  We should tax congestion, noise, and pollution.  We should tax passenger vehicles by weight.  We should replace the income tax with a more steeply progressive tax on consumption. But until we’ve done all that, no champion of liberty has any cogent reason to oppose replacing taxes on useful activities with taxes on harmful ones.

Oil Spills, Tort Law and Libertarianism

Here is Paul Krugman's Nth reason why libertarianism doesn't work:

Thinking about BP and the Gulf: in this old interview,
Milton Friedman says that there’s no need for product safety
regulation, because corporations know that if they do harm they’ll be
sued.

Interviewer: So tort law takes care of a lot of this ..

Friedman: Absolutely, absolutely.

Meanwhile, in the real world:

In the wake of last month’s catastrophic Gulf Coast oil
spill, Sen. Lisa Murkowski blocked a bill that would have raised the
maximum liability for oil companies after a spill from a paltry $75
million to $10 billion. The Republican lawmaker said the bill,
introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), would have unfairly hurt
smaller oil companies by raising the costs of oil production. The
legislation is “not where we need to be right now” she said.

And don’t say that we just need better politicians. If
libertarianism requires incorruptible politicians to work, it’s not
serious.

In other words, libertarianism can't work because government sucks. I am tempted to comment further on this creative line of reasoning but that is unnecessary since Paul has misunderstood the facts of the matter.

The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA), which is the law that caps liability for economic damages at $75 million, does not override state law or common law remedies in tort (click on the link and search for common law or see here).  Thus, Milton Friedman's preferred remedy for corporate negligence, tort law, continues to operate and there is no doubt that BPs potential liability under common law alone would be in the billions of dollars. 

Thus, Paul now has only (N-1) reasons why libertarianism doesn't work.

Moreover, Paul has actually been too unkind to government, a defect it falls upon me (!) to correct.  The point of the OPA was not to limit tort law but to supplement it.

Tort law, as traditionally understood, could only be used to recover damages to people and property rather than force firms to pay cleanup costs per se.  Thus, in the OPA as I read it–and take the details with a grain of salt since I'm not a lawyer–there is no limit on cleanup costs.  Moreover, the OPA makes the offender strictly liable for cleanup costs which means that if these costs are proven the offender must pay them regardless (there are a few defenses, such as an act of war, but they are unlikely to apply).  The offender is also strictly liable for up to $75 million in economic damages above and beyond cleanup costs.  Thus the $75 million is simply a cap on the strictly liable damages, the damages that if proven BP has to pay regardless.  But there is no limit, even under the OPA, on economic damages in the event that BP failed to follow regulations or is otherwise shown to be negligent (same as under common law). 

Conniptions from me on urban economics

Matt Yglesias, picking up from Ryan Avent, writes:

…some libertarian economists at George Mason University go so far as to
laud America’s large houses and plentiful parking specifically as
evidence of the superiority of America’s free market economic policy,
blissfully unaware that in the United States pervasive regulation
requires the construction of bigger houses and more parking spaces than
the market would provide.

Matt refers to:

…the kind of libertarians who one would expect to go into conniptions if
Fairfax County, Virginia were to propose a stringent rent control law seem surprisingly blasé
about the vast array of land use restrictions that infringe economic
liberty in that county and most other American jurisdictions.

Just for the record, I'd like to add my conniptions on the issue:

1. I would not have brought the U.S. down the path of water subsidies, many of which are pro-suburban.  (Admitted they are not always easy to repeal.)

2. I think pollution externalities should be priced in Pigouvian fashion; this would penalize many suburban developments.

3. I oppose the widening of Route 7 at Tysons Corner and I expect a disaster from the current plans.

4. I favor school choice and charter schools, which would make many U.S. cities livable again for couples with children.

5. I would price many roads for congestion, although as Bryan points out this could either help or hurt cars as a mode of transport.

6. I would allow U.S. cities to become much taller, thereby accommodating more residents.  I would weaken many urban building codes in the interests of a greener America.

7. I much preferred the time when I lived near a gas station and a 7-11.

Maybe Matt and Ryan are picking on Bryan Caplan rather than me but I suspect Bryan would agree with most of this list, maybe all of it.

If I don't throw conniptions on these issues more often, it is because I regard them as unlikely or in some cases they are simply not issues I follow closely.  Fairfax County zoning has such strong political support, most of all from the wealthy Democrats who supported Obama but from Republicans too.  If you find anyone in Fairfax screaming about the horrors of zoning, that person is likely to be a libertarian and not a blase one.  Or maybe they are a Best Buy shareholder.

But today is the day of conniptions.  I truly wish that Fairfax County were more like central Arlington or for that matter Falls Church City and I curse those who have made it otherwise.

Here is a picture of The Conniptions.  Don't forget them.  They are mine!  My conniptions.

Fairfax, by the way, did have rent control before 1973.  Oddly, my main post on rent control is a chat with Tyrone, who of course favors the idea.

Hennessey on CAFE

Excellent post, filled with detail, by Keith Hennessey on CAFE.  Some highlights:

The NHTSA analyses look at a range of benefits to society, including economic and national security benefits from using less oil, health and environmental benefits from less pollution, and environmental benefits from fewer greeenhouse gas emissions (this is new).  They also consider the costs, primarily from requiring more fuel-saving technologies to be included by manufacturers….

Rather than maximizing net societal benefits, [the Obama] proposal raises the standard until (total societal benefits = total societal costs), meaning the net benefits to society are roughly zero…

The Obama plan will increase costs enough to further suppress demand for new cars and trucks. This will cause significant job loss, and probably in the 150K 50K range over 5-ish years, with a fairly wide error band….[updated to reflect an error in calculation, AT]

The Obama option would reduce the global temperature by seven thousandths of a degree Celsius by the end of this century….[and] would reduce the sea-level rise by six hundredths of a centimeter.  That’s 0.6 millimeters.

Note that these points are all drawn from NHTSA work (see Hennessey's post for details) not from a "think tank" study.  Finally, Hennessey is concerned about the future:

…As early as this fall, greenhouse gases could become “regulated pollutants” under the Clean Air Act. Once something becomes a “regulated pollutant,” a whole bunch of other parts of the Clean Air Act kick in, and EPA is off to the races in regulating greenhouse gases from a much (much) wider range of sources, including power plants, hospitals, schools, manufacturers, and big stores.

One of the scariest elements of this is called the “Prevention of Significant Deterioration” permitting system. In effect, EPA could insert itself (or your State environmental agency) into most local planning and zoning processes. I will write more about this in the future. It terrifies me.

The Politics of Cap and Trade

Good overview in the NYTimes on the politics of cap and trade.  The bottom line:

How did cap and trade, hatched as an academic theory in obscure
economic journals half a century ago, become the policy of choice in
the debate over how to slow the heating of the planet? And how did it
come to eclipse the idea of simply slapping a tax on energy consumption…

The answer is not to be found in the study of
economics or environmental science, but in the realm where most policy
debates are ultimately settled: politics…Cap and trade…is almost perfectly designed for the buying
and selling of political support through the granting of valuable
emissions permits to favor specific industries and even specific
Congressional districts.That is precisely what is taking place now in the House Energy and Commerce Committee…

Here is how Tyler and I put it in Modern Principles: Microeconomics

With a tax, firms
must pay the government for each ton
of pollutant that they emit. With pollution
allowances, firms must either use
the pollution allowances that they are
given or if they want to emit more they
must buy allowances from other firms.
Either way, firms that are given allowances
in the initial allocation get a
big benefit compared to having to pay
taxes. Thus, some people say that pollution
allowances equal corrective taxes
plus corporate welfare.
That’s not necessarily the best way of
looking at the issue…

…To make progress against global warming, may require building
a political coalition. A carbon tax pushes one very powerful and interested
group, the large energy firms, into the opposition. If tradable allowances are
instead given to firms initially, there is a better chance of bringing the large energy
firms into the coalition. Perhaps it’s not fair that politically powerful
groups must be bought off but as Otto von Bismarck, Germany’s first chancellor,
once said,”Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.”
We can only add that producing both laws and sausages requires some pork.

Careful readers may recognize a friendly jab at a competitor. 

Should we put a carbon tax on China?

Paul Krugman seems to say yes:

As the United States and other advanced countries finally move to
confront climate change, they will also be morally empowered to
confront those nations that refuse to act. Sooner than most people
think, countries that refuse to limit their greenhouse gas emissions
will face sanctions, probably in the form of taxes on their exports.
They will complain bitterly that this is protectionism, but so what?
Globalization doesn’t do much good if the globe itself becomes
unlivable.

I cannot agree with what I think is his recommendation.  I am not a global warming denialist but:

1. The Chinese are often paranoid (arguably for good reason) and we will get further being nice to them than by being confrontational.  Krugman himself admits that they don't seem themselves as culpable on this issue.  Chinese citizens wanting clean air at home are possibly our biggest ally so let's not alienate them.

2. Last I checked China was funding a big chunk of our government's debt.  Confronting them would have to be bundled with a regime of extreme fiscal conservatism and unilateral foreign policy.

3. It can be very hard to identify and isolate the energy inputs into an exported product, especially if the host government is uncooperative and a lot of money is at stake.

4. We cannot credibly penalize the Chinese until we solve our own pollution problem.  Even under Obama's proposed policies, in their purer forms, that is at best decades away.  In the meantime, what is it that is really being advocated?  Non-credible threats?

5. Once the political process gets its hand on such tariffs they will be directed against, say, Chinese cars, including maybe relatively clean ones, rather than the dirtiest Chinese exports.

6. Last I checked there was something called the United Nations and China sat on its Security Council.  The UN is the (supposed) forum for handling problems of this nature.  Yes, we could construct an alternative "League of Democracies" as John McCain (!) had suggested, in part to deal with global warming and other multilateral problems where the non-democracies won't cooperate.  I don't favor this change but if we are going to do it we need to realize how radical a foreign policy step it would be and how Russia would respond as well. 

One lesson I take from Krugman's piece is just how thin support for multilateralism really is.

I do understand the basic instinct of "this problem is really bad so we must do something…and now!"  I would suggest that we keep in mind the less obvious, but no less important intuition: "this problem is really bad and that means a lot of what we are tempted to do could make it even worse."

Seth Roberts writes to me

That’s a good way to put it: quality of walking opportunities.  Reduced or enhanced because I don’t read the language?  I’m not sure.

I say enhanced.  More generally, I see Paris and Buenos Aires as the two cities with the highest quality of walking opportunities.  Not many cities in Asia do well on this score, mostly because of congestion and pollution.  Los Angeles is an underrated walking city and Sao Paulo used to be; maybe it is too dangerous now.

Why do people oppose globalization?

Dani Rodrik writes:

So the "us" and "them" characterization that Tyler attributes to irrational nativism perhaps has more to do with the absence of a common set of international rules on labor standards, environment, consumer safety, and so on.

(There is much more at the link.)  I was surprised to read this.  In the 1980s people were very hostile to Japan and Japanese imports, even though Japan at the time was quite wealthy and had relatively high standards in these areas.  I also receive a fair number of emails — some of them of the hate variety — by people who are suspicious of the rise of China.  I believe it is Chinese success which bothers them even though they sometimes come up with ancillary stories about unfairnesss.  These people are not less upset when other countries use capital rather than labor or when foreign production does not create much pollution.

Most of all, many people in poorer countries object to having to compete with America, with McDonald’s, with Hollywood, and so on.  Those objections are usually more strenuous than the complaints of Americans about a poorer China and of course the poorer countries tend to be more protectionist, in part for this reason.  That’s where feelings of unfairness are truly strong.  There’s nothing special about the "regulatory arbitrage" unfairness story and in fact it is one of the weaker feelings of unfairness out there.  In reality the entire past of the world is unfair but cosmopolitanites can look past that to appreciate the gains from ongoing trade.

Rodrik himself seems to object to when Americans trade with countries in which first world labor standards are violated.  But doesn’t such trade raise wages in these countries and also give a long-run boost to labor standards?  And where does the net unfairness lie?  Haven’t the Western powers — if only through imperialism — usually treated these countries much worse than vice versa?  Didn’t we steal Panama from Colombia for instance and take away a huge chunk of Mexico?  (Were Europeans so nice to the Ottoman Empire?)  Maybe the American worker ought to feel those folks deserve a bit of regulatory arbitrage (and that’s not what most of the trade is based upon) in return.  But it is striking how infrequently such a fairness calculus — whether correct or not — is even considered.  That again is because most people engage in "in group, out group" thinking.

The bottom line is that most people support their countries to a highly irrational degree in most international questions or disputes.  That’s just obvious — watch the World Cup — and yes Jonathan Swift understood that too.   

Daylight savings time increases energy usage

There is a natural experiment from the recent switch away from DST in Indiana.  Matthew Kotchen and Laura Grant report:

Our main finding is that–contrary to the policy’s intent–DST increases residential electricity demand. Estimates of the overall increase range from 1 to 4 percent, but we find that the effect is not constant throughout the DST period. There is some evidence of electricity savings during the spring, but the effect lessens, changes sign, and appears to cause the greatest increase in consumption near the end of the DST period in the fall. These findings are consistent with simulation results that point to a tradeoff between reducing demand for lighting and increasing demand for heating and cooling. Based on the dates of DST practice before the 2007 extensions, we estimate a cost of increased electricity bills to Indiana households of $8.6 million per year. We also estimate social costs of increased pollution emissions that range from $1.6 to $5.3 million per year.

In other words, with DST less is spent on light but more is spent on air conditioning.  Here is a summary article on the work, from today’s WSJ.  Do note this:

There may also be social benefits to daylight-saving time that weren’t covered in the research. When the extension of daylight-saving time was proposed by Mr. Markey, he cited studies that noted "less crime, fewer traffic fatalities, more recreation time and increased economic activity" with the extra sunlight in the evening.