It has been a busy week here with the start of the fall semester. Below are a few items that I did not have time to get to, and a few that are in the queue. To get your holiday weekend off to a peppy start, above is a music video from Fun (and I am told that the lead signer is not a moonlighting Michael Shellenberger, though I'm not so sure.)
Enjoy and have a nice holiday weekend!
- My fall syllabus is up, and the graduate seminar is full to bursting with a diverse group of exceptional students. The syllabus for -- Science and Society: An Introduction to Science and Technology Studies -- can be found here.
- Today's FT has a editorial on the Australian-EU carbon trading alliance with a take that is very similar to my own, writing, "this deal may be little more than a matter of political convenience."
- Once again, the historical record of normalized losses shows itself to be a tough-to-beat naive first estimate of expected losses from contemporary storms. Based on Isaac's position on 25 Aug, normalized loss analogues suggested median total damage of $1.6 billion. First estimates of Isaac's actual damages are $1.5 billion.
- Karen Clark and Co. have taken our methodology for "normalizing" historical hurricane losses and applied it to insured losses, asking how much in insured damage past storms would cause today. A report on their effort can be found here.
- Economic growth is over says Robert Gordon. Economic growth is just getting started says Mark Mills. Expect a full discussion of this subject next week.
- Do you think we are at the start of a great stagnation? That productivity gains have been exhausted? That growth is over? I have one word for you. Pallets.
- The Australian Government's Taskforce on Manufacturing has reported, and at first glance it looks like a rich and nuanced effort. The report itself can be found here. I hope to be able to discuss this further in due course.
- Oxford's Dorothy Bishop argues that "researchers who write book chapters might as well bury the paper in a hole in their garden." I agree.
- Drought? Fox Business reports that 2012 is likely to be the most profitable year for farmers in 40 years. The article also reports an updated estimate of the direct losses from the drought at $20 billion, which keeps 2012 far, far behind 1988 and 1980 as a proportion of GDP.
- A study of the potential for future gains in agricultural productivity just out in Nature by Jonathan Foley's research team -- Mueller et al. -- which argues that "yield increases of 45–70% are possible for most crops through improved nutrient management and increased use of irrigation."
- Also at Nature, Chris Rapley, a climate scientist, has a provocative essay on the role of climate scientists in policy and politics, in which he says some nice things about the work of Dan Sarewitz and favorably cites The Honest Broker. However, when Rapley cites some of the prominent climate science/advocacy websites as venues for possible progress, he is apparently unaware that they typically see Sarewitz and I (mostly me, Dan doesn't blog) as the enemy.
- Nature, which is on a roll this week, also has a thoughtful commentary by Colin Macilwain on UK government science advisers. He writes, "the scientific community's hope that the scientific adviser will exercise meaningful influence is liable always to be frustrated."
- Along with Michael Lind, Matt Nisbet and ted Nordhaus/Michael Shellenberger, I am going to be blogging regularly as a columnist at the newly redesigned Breakthrough Institute website.