Maybe this explains that volcano problem

This week, Iceland’s Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardotti married her longtime partner Jonina Leosdottir, making her the first head of government in the world to marry a same-sex partner. The couple married last Sunday, which was both the international day for gay rights and the day that a new law legalizing same-sex marriage in Iceland went into effect. Sigurdardotti called the new law “cause for celebration for all Icelanders”, according to the Examiner.

link: Feminist Wire Daily Newsbriefs: U.S. and Global News Coverage

But I doubt it. Congratulations, Ms. Sigurdardotti and Ms. Leosdottir, and to the Icelandic people, who manage not to be a) horrified by the notion of a female leader let alone a b) an openly lezbuyun one.

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Marty Weitzman and Matt Kahn on the geographically pervasive risks of climate change

Via Matt Kahn’s Environmental and Urban Economics blog

Marty Weitzman is one of those people that planners simply do not seem to read, and they should, because his contributions to environmental economics are enormous. Matt Kahn linked to a recent paper from Weitzman available via NBER

From the abstract:

A critical issue in climate-change economics is the specifcation of the so-called
“damages function” and its interaction with the unknown uncertainty of catastrophic outcomes. This paper asks how much we might be misled by our economic assessment of climate change when we employ a conventional quadratic damages function and/or a thin-tailed probability distribution for extreme temperatures. The paper gives some numerical examples of the indirect value of various GHG concentration targets as insurance against catastrophic climate-change temperatures and damages. These numerical examples suggest that we might be underestimating considerably the welfare losses from uncertainty by using a quadratic damages function and/or a thin-tailed temperature distribution. In these examples, the primary reason for keeping GHG levels down is to insure against high-temperature catastrophic climate risks.

Matt Kahn, in response, discusses how the coastal reduction likely from sea change might not be unmanageable given new vertical farming technologies and urban densities:

So we need 424,000 of 52 million or .8% of the earth’s land area to be inhabitable after climate change really kicks in. As of right now, from a spatial portfolio point of view, I certainly think it is possible. If the world’s population shrinks or we reduce our caloric intake, the necessary quantity of viable land would shrink further. Implicit in my forthcoming book Climatopolis is my optimism that there will continue to be “safe” geographical places to settle and build new cities. I would like to know whether any climate change models predict that there are scenarios under which we cannot find 424,000 safe square miles of inhabitable Earth to build anew?

link: Environmental and Urban Economics

Here is a link to Dr. Kahn’s forthcoming book, which I have pre-ordered (and so should you). 🙂

Whether you can get on board with Weitzman’s argument, it’s nice to have strong technical discussion of the “fat tail” problem rather than the usual straw man arguments from people like Nassim Taleb.

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Charles Peters on Robert Byrd

I have to concede that Byrd may have found the courage to take this stand only when he realized that death was near and that he would not be running for office again. There can be no doubt, however, about the courage he displayed in his great speech against George W. Bush’s rush to war in Iraq in 2003. Most of his fellow Democrats were afraid to join him that day; all but two had opposed the first Gulf war and feared that, in the eyes of the voters, history had proved them wrong. They did not want to risk a similar verdict this time. But Byrd took the risk. Moreover, his stand showed bravery in another way. West Virginians have a history of military service, with one of the highest, if not the highest percentage of its population to have made the ultimate sacrifice in their country’s wars. And like many other members of his generation who had not served in World War II Byrd was especially sensitive to this issue. He knew that by opposing the war he opened himself to accusations of cowardice and failure to support our troops.

link: How Robert Byrd Won My Respect | The New Republic

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