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Climate, energy, and Willie

August 19, 2014

willieThough I have long enjoyed Willie, I’ve never been that impressed with his activism. That includes his upcoming plan to sing against the Keystone XL pipeline. Far from being first on a list of environmental concerns, I have a hard time seeing it as tenth. Or twentieth.

My friend and colleague Jim Dutton pointed me to an excellent article on how the discussion of climate change is so full of sound and fury. And so little sense. Despite both environmentalists and economists having knowledge to add.

The one topic I would add to that article is the relationship between energy consumption and GDP. Very closely linked for the first two centuries of American history, and similarly in most other developed nations, that has been loosening in recent decades. Neither economic progress nor the dollar are tied to a fixed number of joules. Interestingly, I run across both green and right-wing pundits who insist that the two must forever travel hand in hand. The former to insist that only the destruction of capitalism can save the environment, and the latter to insist that all efforts toward energy conservation are an attack on capitalism.

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