Ten years after Fukushima

What happened? At 14.46 on 11 March 2011, the largest earthquake ever to hit Japan started in the Pacific Ocean about 72km (45 miles) from the Japanese coast. Occurring in fairly shallow waters, the earthquake caused a tsunami with a maximum height of 15m (49 ft.), which struck the coast about 50 minutes later with… Continue Reading

The importance of infrastructure

People paid to worry about bad stuff happening concluded long ago that one way to destroy the USA as a functioning state would be to explode a high altitude nuclear weapon above the country; the resulting electromagnetic pulse (EMP) would destroy practically all electrical equipment, including the large transformers that make the electrical grid work.… Continue Reading

Being pro-markets, not pro-business

Being pro-business risks supporting incumbent firms against new entrants – this is not good. * Economists are generally in favour of markets as ways to organise activity. Introductory microeconomics teaches students about how a competitive market brings demand and supply together efficiently: consumers get choice in what to buy, and companies are forced to be… Continue Reading

Why an abrupt tightening of climate change policy may be our only hope

To spend time with climate scientists and energy economists these days is to take part in an increasingly tortuous mental conflict. Outwardly, scientists, policy analysts and academics hoping to influence policy must remain positive and optimistic, while keeping a strong sense of urgency. Privately, many are in despair at the lack of progress on cutting… Continue Reading

Institutions seldom die

Recent news that the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) is thinking of lending to Sub-Saharan Africa shows how institutions evolve to find new goals rather than quietly close down. The EBRD, which I believe enjoys a high reputation in the development finance world, is a multilateral financial institution set up in 1991 to… Continue Reading

Could China’s population halve by the end of the century?

Demography, the study of population, is one of the few areas of the social sciences where long term predictions (over one or more decades) can have some value. This is because the dynamics of population growth depend on the current age structure (how many young versus old people), which is fixed in the short term,… Continue Reading

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