Monday, April 28, 2008

The New Jersey Plan

The New Jersey Energy Master Plan has been released and is available at at: http://www.nj.gov/emp/index.shtml.This plan incoporates strategies to reduce NJ’s greenhouse gasses to 1990 levels by 2020. Salient elements include nuclear and wind power commitments as well as State wide building codes. But a more exotic idea is to levy a "social benefits charge" on customers which would increase if customers usage exceeds specified levels. There are important opportunities here to research how the presentation of usage data, and how it is described, affects savings. The fact is that, as of toady, we have no real idea about the elasticity of demand.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Lawnless

I took out my front lawns last week and put in indigenous plants and shrubs. Never mind the cost, what has taken me aback is the psychological toll. I don't think I realized how psychologically consoling a large green expanse is. And how jarring a desert scape is. Some popular writers in evolutionary psychology have suggested that we feel at home in savannah-like settings because that is where we evolved. And it is true that I like meadows as much as lawns. But it seems like an hypothesis that is hard to pin down empirically. Still for a start one could ask if it is just me who is consoled by meadows and lawns or everyone. Perhaps desert dwellers are consoled by deserts. And perhaps, looking out at my desert-scape, familiarty will breed calm in me ..... after a while.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Malini Mehra

One of the most clearest voices on the international scene who is voicing the need for mutual responsibility and action is Malini Mehra, founder and chief executive of the Centre for Social Markets (www.csmworld.org). She writes that: “Climate change presents a clear and present danger to India and the world. But it also offers opportunities. We must seize the moment and re-frame the climate debate in India not as an agenda of despair, but as an agenda of hope and opportunity. India is a great nation with tremendous resources and talent. We need to deploy this - and our extended resource of 30 million Indians in the Diaspora – to make the right investments today such that our economic development path is truly sustainable and equitable. All our work across the country has shown that the people are ready for this. Our leaders now need to follow. Sustainability needs to become the central paradigm of our modernisation strategy. Anything less will not only be a disservice to today’s poor but to future generations.”

Monday, April 7, 2008

Either Or?

The recent flurry of commentary prompted by Pielke, Wigley and Green in Nature (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v452/n7187/full/452531a.html) suggests there is some sort of choice between market action to limit carbon output (like caps) and intense R&D for new technology. That is surely a pseudo-choice if ever there was one – unless you think that attempting to forge agreements on limits would some how undermine the impetus for funding R&D. But given the difficulty of forging such agreements, that seems farfetched. The fact is that even if intense R&D began today and produced results, the ramp up to “scale” would likely take decades. In the meantime, business as usual will only make things much much worse.