Policies to Mitigate Climate Change Could Increase Global Hunger

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

It is generally accepted as gospel truth among climate scientists and science writers that the world must immediately and drastically reduce carbon emissions in order to prevent apocalyptic climate change. Though RCS’s editorial stance toward apocalyptic climate change is one of skepticism — largely because doomsday prophets, be they the scientific or religious type, have always been wrong — we freely admit that a catastrophic outcome is a possibility and radical measures may be necessary. (At this time, however, we believe that the best policy is the gradual lowering of carbon emissions through the implementation of a carbon tax.)

Whatever combination of climate solutions the world decides to implement, a new analysis in Environmental Science & Technology reminds us that all policies bear costs and unintended consequences. In the case of greenhouse gas reductions, the unintended consequence may be an increased risk of global hunger. Continue reading

Subsidies: What Fossil Fuels & Porn Have in Common

This article was originally published on RealClearScience.

It’s time to end the federal porn subsidy.

You might be asking, What federal porn subsidy? Fair question. Technically, there isn’t a federal porn subsidy. However, if we borrow some of the logic commonly used by politically driven economists, we can redefine the word subsidy to mean whatever we want. Continue reading

Now Is a Great Time to Go to Europe

This article was originally posted on RealClearWorld.

My wife and I travel to Europe about every eight months. (Photographs? I thought you’d never ask!) In order to minimize costs, we closely monitor exchange rates, preferring to book trips when the rate is favorable.

Currently, 1 U.S. dollar purchases 0.89 euros. The exchange rate hasn’t been this good for American travelers since September 2003. (See chart.)

It’s raining euros, hallelujah! (Credit: European Central Bank)

The good news (for Americans travelers and European exporters, but not necessarily anybody else) is that the euro is expected to keep falling. In fact, The Economist predicts that the U.S. dollar may reach parity with the euro sometime this year. That hasn’t happened since November 2002.

Continue reading

Unemployment Linked to Drop in Fertility

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Understanding trends in fertility is one of the most important tasks for demographers. Population growth, or the lack thereof, is linked to economic activity. For instance, as a general rule, wealthy countries have lower fertility rates than poor ones. That is why the “problem” of overpopulation is a self-correcting one; as the developing world becomes more advanced, we will expect its fertility rate to fall. Continue reading

China’s Disastrous One-Child Policy

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Since 1979, China has engaged in a gigantic social experiment the likes of which humanity has never seen. Stemming from fears of overpopulation and an inability to feed its own people, the communist Chinese government imposed a one-child policy. Recently, China announced an end to the policy; any couple can now have two children, provided that one of the parents is an only child. Continue reading

Bitcoin Meets Google Trends and Wikipedia

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Bitcoin, the digital currency du jour, is a bit of an economic curiosity. Unlike gold, it has no intrinsic value. Unlike a currency issued by a country, its price is not affected by GDP, inflation, interest rates or any other typical macroeconomic indicator. So what gives Bitcoin value, and what is behind its incredible price volatility? Supply and demand. And since supply is already predetermined by an algorithm, demand is the biggest factor driving both its value and volatility. Continue reading

Why Is a Socialist Allowed to Teach Economics?

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

We don’t cover economics regularly because it is not traditionally considered science. Furthermore, the field too often generates research and commentary that employs more voodoo than a witch doctor. It is largely for these reasons that economics is often referred to as the “dismal science” and why President Harry Truman wanted to meet a one-armed economist. Continue reading