Monday, September 21, 2009

Discussions for the day

Paul Krugman seems to think the same way I do about GS employees getting back to whatever they do, after their jobs were saved by the American (and European) taxpayers. He makes a strong case for the Obama administration to impose strong pay caps on these jokers who don't do anything tangible but make tons of money on wall street.
This is a fascinating article on poverty in India, from, Rediff. The thesis is that inequality in India seems to be increasing - and in some cases, can even be more dire than China. Also, there is a claim which says that India's rapid economic growth has not trickled town to the poorest of the poor - which is a worrying trend. If this is indeed the case, does further market liberalization hit a political road-block?
Rice that does not need to be cooked, just soaked in water for half an hour? This seems like a good idea to cook without using fuel, which could be a good thing. Until one considers the following: where will the poorest of the poor in Orissa (the obvious targets of this thing) get the water to soak the rice in? Odds are it will be from a borewell or a river or something. And with India's water being notoriously congested with microbes of all variety, I am afraid this innovation will either be a non-starter or will kill many people. Probably the former.
This report from the New Scientist makes sense. If we allow the people of this planet to deposit 750B tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere until 2050 (which most scientists agree is the maximum we can allow before the magic 2C increase in global temperature, thought to be a climate tipping point), then how should be distribute them?

If we were to distribute them to nations according to their current population, the US would get to put in a measly 35B tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere - something it would do in 6 years. India on the other hand would have 30 years to spare at its current level - a statistic which India is working hard to change to perhaps 10 years in the red. The only way for the US to continue would be to purchase energy credits from the poorer countries who will wind up with a surplus. This will make Americans become more energy efficient.

I will change my name to Adolf Mussolini if this works. There's no chance in hell that any legislation to curtail emissions in the US will ever comply with the recommendations of this report. The USA cannot agree on something as trivial and black and white as healthcare reform. Imagine the US trying to pass a bill which will require Americans to buy credits from poor countries.

And if Obama tries this, he will lose the elections. The republican party will come back to power, attack Iran and create more quagmires on the planet.

A few posts ago, I had contended that the Cash For Clunkers situation was an ecological sham. Turns out, I am almost right. There's two reasons. Firstly, the Prius itself is an energy hog (during its manufacture phase). It takes more energy to manufacture a hybrid than it does to manufacture a conventional vehicle. So, if all clunkers in the US are trashed for Priii, the amount of emissions increase, because people who would not be in the market to procure transportation will actually purchase more energy intensive vehicles.

And secondly, consider this. If your vehicle gives a larger mileage, people will simply drive more. A fuel tax is the only reasonable solution, short of auto rickshaws or Tata Nanos for everyone. Not going to happen in the US. If Obama tries this, he will not get elected again.

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