Interesting stuff

  1. This podcast on American supermarkets has an interesting (sad) discussion of how government farm programs have distorted what’s grown, what Americans eat, and their health problems.
  2. Around 95 percent of crypto currency trades are fake, which reveals that some “shitcoins” are really shit frauds and that markets are actually working more efficiently than incorrect data show. (Read the full analysis .)
  3. George Orwell’s 1984 is ever more relevant: “The crucial issue was not that Trump might abolish democracy but that Americans had put him in a position to try. Unfreedom today is voluntary. It comes from the bottom up.”
  4. Go to Coney Island to see humanity in all its glorious variations
  5. Scammers are buying old sites with inbound links from reliable sites (think NY Times to Aguanomics.com) b/c they can fill the old sites with spam.
  6. The eighteenth-century “reclamation” of Paris was brutal
  7. Norwegian territory of Svalbard allows anyone to live there, theoretically.
  8. A great podcast on reading books and learning
  9. Insights into Pakistan’s Imran Khan and Turkey’s pivot to its past
  10. The ethics and aesthetics of garbage

Two new papers on water scarcity

After several months of delay, I now have first drafts of two papers for you to read and — hopefully — help me improve!

Using prices to manage water scarcity

Abstract: Water scarcity reflects an excess of demand over supply and risks turning into shortage if that supply should fall below daily minimum needs for drinking, washing, irrigation and so on. This paper explores the factors affecting the supply and demand for water as an economic good and explains how to price retail water for municipal and industrial users or market water among irrigators. The key to successfully managing water scarcity is a price that constrains aggregate demand while covering the costs of reliable supply. Public acceptance of water pricing depends on policies that protect the poor and environmental flows, i.e., policies that set aside “social water” before allocating water among economic uses.

Keywords: water scarcity, price incentives, elasticity, climate change

JEL Classification: Q25, Q54, Q56, Q57

Living in a post-water world

Abstract: Multiple factors are increasing fresh water scarcity, and few societies are prepared to cope. Although some assume that solutions will come from technology, profit motives or better planning, I argue that outdated and mismatched institutions are making scarcity worse and blocking efforts to manage water according to its economic and social uses. In this paper, I use a simple framework to explain how water’s economic and collective value should be managed, explain how mismatched incentives can destroy value, and use examples to show how current quality of life will fall as scarcity worsens in the presence of inappropriate institutions. This combination of theory and speculative examples should help readers think about how we might adapt to increasing water scarcity — or not.

Keywords: climate change, food security, virtual water, agricultural trade

JEL Classification: F51, H42, Q17, Q25

Feel free to read, forward and comment on either.¬†These drafts are already targeted at specific journals, so the most helpful comments would be on improving their clarity and completeness ūüôā

Interesting stuff

  1. Listen to this interview with the author of Surveillance Capitalism and tell me that you’re ok with advertising manipulation. I’m not.
  2. Smoking will be banned in all Dutch railway stations in 2 years. Yea for public health!
  3. We need a new science of progress
  4. Trump’s administration is really serious about ignorance
  5. Transhumans worry me like end-of-times Christians do. Both types seem to think it’s ok to ignore the earth because they plan to merge with¬†transistors (God). I hope they’ve got a solar-powered battery to keep alive!
  6. Humans vs wild boars in cities? The pigs may win.
  7. A great overview of the problems with recycling
  8. The beginning of the end of beef 
  9. How digital advertising works (it’s following you everywhere)
  10. China’s “Communist” Party expands its control over business

Interesting stuff

  1. Online dating is a blessing and curse: “This is the age of DIY-everything, in which individuals are charged with the full-service construction of their careers, lives, faiths, and public identities.”
  2. Social media is changing the way we write… “because self-image”
  3. Climate chaos gives us a new season: The Bad Season.
  4. The correct lesson to learn from surprises is that the world is surprising
  5. Working at Amazon ain’t that bad…¬†according to 650,000 people
  6. We forget memories for good reasons
  7. Hidden Winners in Neighborhood Gentrification” (as I’ve said for years)
  8. Peter Thiel understands where market opportunities lie
  9. A former Wall Street banker learns “dignity” from America’s poor
  10. Economics can be useful for everyday decisions!

H/T to FB

Interesting stuff

  1. Utrecht is a city for people (and bikes) not cars
  2. A pro-bitcoin economist explains the value of gold (“hard money”) as a hedge against feckless governments. Here are a few quotes from his book.
  3. Visualizing the spread of the Airbnb plague in Amsterdam 
  4. Bangladeshi farmers are shifting from chickens to ducks to cope with climate change. Ducks are better at dealing with floods ūüėČ
  5. Check out (join?) the Sustainable Touring Arts Coalition 
  6. Read Isaac Asimov’s 1959 essay “How Do People Get New Ideas?
  7. The Arctic is on fire (a lot), and we’re screwed (massive GHG release)
  8. Neal Stephenson on Depictions of Reality
  9. Hong Kong made this Chinese man rich. Now he’s defending its freedom
  10. California’s past gifts to farmers are endangering its future.

H/T to DL

Stuff to read

  1. The making of the Active Water video. (Cool advert, but Gatorade is a waste of money — compared to water — for 95% of drinkers.)
  2. Quitting the Mormons is hard when they are calling your kids…
  3. Sand (!) is running out…¬†and a podcast with an author on the topic¬†
  4. It’s not going to be perfect but it can be DONE.
  5. The garbage man knows everything — including¬†burning beats recycling
  6. Facebook’s Libra is no crypto currency, but it may have big impacts
  7. The Economist’s “What if?” visions of the future: Antibiotic resistant bugs, Facebook vs EU regulators, and ¬†fights over geoengineering.
  8. It’s time to switch from “he or she” to “they”
  9. Watch “Nothing to Hide” if you worry about internet privacy (you should!)
  10. A reasonable overview of water policy (and problems) in the Western US

Stuff to read

  1. Guess what? House Hunters (a reality TV show) is scripted
  2. An incredible detective story: tracking down a fake Rolex “brand”
  3. Here’s an interview with me [mp3] on the Future of Agriculture podcast. (I’m not optimistic.)
  4. I recommend listening to¬†“Hash Power, a three part audio documentary that explores the world of blockchain and cryptocurrencies,” which was published in 2017, thus providing some interesting predictions of where crypto was going (and not!)
  5. Three delusional visions of smart cities
  6. How Boeing lost its way
  7. Thomas Sowell explains why “trickle down economics” is a lie
  8. A new report on water governance in China
  9. Marriage is more complicated than just a couple making promises
  10. Oceans are absorbing carbon at a rate likely to cause mass extinction within this century. So, yeah, we’re fucked.

Stuff to read

  1. Exercise is not just about losing weight
  2. When is a “burger” a burger — and other naming nonsense
  3. Americans only started working too much (rather, taking too few vacations) in the 1980s
  4. Here are some excerpts from a new documentary on Elinor and Vincent Ostrom and the study of the commons, which will come out in May 2020
  5. In an experiment, students lived in the desert on 15 liters of water per day “without difficulty adjusting to a low-resource lifestyle.” Could you?
  6. Thirty people are sailing from Europe to the COP meeting in Chile. Support their mission?
  7. The most important wind in the world — the monsoon — is failing.
  8. China is exporting its digital surveillance model, beginning with BRI countries. Related: Read this 1993 essay on Singapore: “Disneyland with the death penalty
  9. Bluntly stated, we should accept the grim reality that victory in modern major wars was most often achieved by mass slaughter, not by heroics or the genius of generals.” Related: I agree with Bernie Sanders on “ending America’s endless war
  10. I’m quoted in this essay on over-population, sustainability and the Bay Area.

Stuff to read

  1. #Greenblood: Dozens of journalists have been killed while reporting on environmental crimes
  2. #ExtinctionRebellion activists are using drones to disrupt flights from airports. I’ve predicted that they will go beyond this, to actually down planes that are contributing to climate change.¬†
  3. The Dutch are pretty honest. Read the story of my returned gold ring
  4. An interview with Hal Varian, Google’s chief economist
  5. The DeGrowth movement is growing (see my post)
  6. Life without wireless in your face
  7. Amazon doesn’t care if its site is full of counterfeit books (I see this firsthand with fraudulent copies of my books).
  8. The entrepreneurs behind Worn & Wound (a watch-enthusiast site). Related: Dan Henry turned his watch passion into a business.
  9. A long tale on the short life of SpeedX/BlueBird (shared) bikes
  10. The market is going nuts for companies promising big profits on zero capital. Be afraid.

Stuff worth your time

  1. The economics of migration, explained.
  2. A useful, if slightly frustrating, conversation on climate change with Bjorn Lomborg, who believes that “people will find ways to survive” — a policy recommendation I do not support.¬†
  3. How Satoshi channeled greed into value (blockchain institutions)
  4. Way too much data on watches and male perspectives on their wrists
  5. A decent overview of how the Americans won, then lost, the world
  6. If men want to ban abortions, then they need to pledge celibacy. Related: Women don’t just casually abort¬†
  7. A big Dutch technical university wants more female professors, so they are only accepting female candidates for positions over the next few years