Monday, 17 January 2011

Chasing Rainbows

I've finally got round to finishing Tim Worstall's book Chasing Rainbows, which can be yours for the trivial sum of £6.49, and it really is very good. Tim, an economic scribbler and Scandium wholesaler by trade applies the prinicples of economics to environmental questions with his usual wit. The tone reads like an extended blog post, and whilst some of the popular culture references grate occasionally, (what percentage of the potential readership are familiar enough with 'South Park' to get the "M'Kay" reference?) the argument that pigou taxes are better than cap 'n trade mainly because the latter is at risk of political and bureaucratic meddling is particularly well explained and compelling.

If you're looking for a complete junking of the hypothesis of climate change, you're in the wrong place. On the other hand, Some of the assumptions of environmental activists: growth always involves the use of more resources, international trade is wasteful for example, are shown up to be not only wrong, but utterly counterproductive. Wealth leaves spare resources to enable people to take the more expensive "green" option. Only growth leaves the spare resources for healthcare and female emancipation that will reduce population growth. If you're a climate activist however, perhaps you'll be most surprised by what the scientific and economic consensus - the Stern Review and the IPCC conclusions are taken as gospel - actually say. We're already doing enough...

This is an excellent, easy-to-read book which applies uncontroversial economics with uncontroversial climate science and winds up being surprisingly optimistic about the future. Of course, this being Britain, this will please nobody, but he's probably closer to the truth than either of the more polarised camps.

Well worth a read.



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