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November 05, 2006

Caroline Lucas: Grade A Moron

Alerted by Choice Cuts I see this at the BBC:

But campaigners have warned of the environmental damage such giant ships could cause.

"The environmental costs of long-distance trade need to be properly taken into account," said Dr Caroline Lucas, Green Party MEP for South East England.

"We must manage international trade in a way which is socially and environmentally sustainable, working towards global agreement on a raft of measures such as taxation on fuel and import tariffs designed to support home-grown businesses.

"This will help offset the environmental damage caused by ships like the Emma Maersk plying international waters filled with MP3 players and plastic toys."

What Caroline Lucas wants to do is move us from our current level of globalization and international trade to a lower one. One with more regional economies, closer to autarkic economies in fact. While I disagree, think it a very silly thing to want indeed,  she is of course entitled to her opinion.

But not to its expression without it being pointed out quite what a gloriously stupid fool she is being in this instance. For, she wants to move to this world of regional economies and less trade as a way of staving off the effects of climate change.

So, of the models that we all use (yes, including the IPCC and the Stern Review) which provides the worst outcome in terms of global warming? It's the A2 model. Which has as its features:

The A2 scenario family represents a differentiated world. Compared to the A1   storyline it is characterized by lower trade flows, relatively slow capital   stock turnover, and slower technological change. The A2 world "consolidates"   into a series of economic regions. Self-reliance in terms of resources and less   emphasis on economic, social, and cultural interactions between regions are   characteristic for this future. Economic growth is uneven and the income gap   between now-industrialized and developing parts of the world does not narrow,   unlike in the A1 and B1 scenario families.

The A2 world has less international cooperation than the A1 or B1 worlds. People,   ideas, and capital are less mobile so that technology diffuses more slowly than   in the other scenario families. International disparities in productivity, and   hence income per capita, are largely maintained or increased in absolute terms.   With the emphasis on family and community life, fertility rates decline relatively   slowly, which makes the A2 population the largest among the storylines (15 billion   by 2100). Global average per capita income in A2 is low relative to other storylines   (especially A1 and B1), reaching about US$7200 per capita by 2050 and US$16,000   in 2100. By 2100 the global GDP reaches about US$250 trillion. Technological   change in the A2 scenario world is also more heterogeneous than that in A1.   It is more rapid than average in some regions and slower in others, as industry   adjusts to local resource endowments, culture, and education levels. Regions   with abundant energy and mineral resources evolve more resource-intensive economies,   while those poor in resources place a very high priority on minimizing import   dependence through technological innovation to improve resource efficiency and   make use of substitute inputs. The fuel mix in different regions is determined   primarily by resource availability. High-income but resource-poor regions shift   toward advanced post-fossil technologies (renewables or nuclear), while low-income   resource-rich regions generally rely on older fossil technologies. Final energy   intensities in A2 decline with a pace of 0.5 to 0.7% per year.

This world of low trade flows, regional self-sufficiency, the one that Caroline Lucas thinks we should move to, that we should put up trade barriers to make it happen, this is the one that gives the WORST results in terms of climate change of all of the alternatives.

So, do you think that Grade A Moron as a description of Ms. Lucas is perhaps too much, a little over the top?

She is recommending that the economic solution to climate change is actually the series of economic actions that the economists state will bring us the most, the worst results possible, climate change of them all.

Grade A Moron is actually rather too mild I think. I'd be amazed to find out that the woman can walk and fart at the same time.


November 5, 2006 in Climate Change | Permalink


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Timmy, we've known she's a grade A moron for years. It seems you're rather slow to catch on.

I commented on her irrationality a while ago.


Of course, this talk about A1 and A2 has made me realise that Dave Cameron is onto something after all. Vote blue, go green. And the bluer the better!

Posted by: Josh | Nov 5, 2006 2:35:10 PM

I find it interesting, in a boring kind of way, that these people who want to take us back to the hunter/gatherer era always use the word "we". "We" must do this, meaning, "I want to be in charge of this programme."

"... ships like the Emma Maersk plying international waters filled with MP3 players and plastic toys." Well, thank God Saddam's trial is over thus freeing up a judge who is not afraid to issue the death sentence! "We" need to know the name of the captains of these ships and call them to account!

Carol Lucas is indeed a low-grade moron - a barely conscious life form.

Posted by: Verity | Nov 5, 2006 5:05:20 PM


Oh, I'm sorry Mrs B, did I catch you calling someone a 'moron'. How quaint, coming from a flat-earth true believer like yourself.

Trust me, I'm all seeing. You need a hobby.

Posted by: The Blind-Winger Jones | Nov 5, 2006 5:17:17 PM

Grade a2 moron?

Posted by: Francis | Nov 5, 2006 5:33:03 PM

The Greens resistance to free trade and globalisation should come as very little surprise considering where most of their money comes from, our old friend the EU. The EU being a Customs Union it's principal purpose (other than attempting to transform itself into a state) is to restrict free trade with the rest of the world. Forget the environment just follow the money if you want to know why they reject globalisation.

Posted by: chris | Nov 5, 2006 8:08:26 PM

By the early 1990s, the Greenies had explicitly junked comparative advantage and other mainstream rationales for international trade - such as what's been dubbed "reciprocal dumping", where a monopoly in the home market exports to challenge a market in another country monopolised by a rival producer there only to find the rival exporting to compete in the home market.

It was already being asked then by the Greenies, why should the car industry in Britain wastefully both export and import cars to compete in the British market?

Perhaps I should note now that the Greenies' argument had nothing especially to do with whether Britain continued as a member of the EU.

I fear that dialogue is as difficult as communicating with someone completely committed to the flat earth hypothesis.

Posted by: Bob B | Nov 5, 2006 9:12:40 PM

That there is a connection between trade and technology diffusion doesn't seem all that clear, although I am open to convinced of its obviousness. That easier access to capital leads to higher rate of substituing capital for labor, and thus speeds up adation of new tech is on the other hand quite obvious, and if capital and trade flows are connected, then I guess there is one.

As for Greens, every political faction has its nut wing, and Greens are no exception. The kind of grown-up Greens I tend to vote for are not opposed to free trade or technology as such, but do make a rather convincing case that given the environmental realities there is something deeply wrong with public policy in general and tax regimes in particular that effectively substitutes consumption versus production of services. (Assumption being that services are on average less detrimental to the environment, which is debateable.)

For an example, calculate the total tax percentage of the price you pay for a vacuum cleaner and the tax percentage on what you pay to a maid to do cleaning. And then as we say in computer tech, reflect, repent, reboot.

On the whole, that fuel used in international transportation is not usually taxed at all while one used in domestic transportation is, constitutes an effective subsidy for international trade. Which arguably needs to be offset by tariffs.

This is however tiny problem compared to preferential tax treatment capital gains in practice get over wages. To repeat, I see international trade and substituting capital for labor on the whole as net positive, but I still do not see any reason for subsidizing them.

Posted by: teme | Nov 6, 2006 9:24:36 AM

There is also a major error in her case on the level of pure physics.

The argument against this big ship is that it uses up so much of the world's resources to move all these goods.

In fact the amount of energy used in moving a floting body is directly related not to its mass but to its surfavce area. The Square Cube Law says that volume goes up by the cube & surface area by the square. Thus a ship like this has less friction & thus uses less energy than smaller ships moving the equivalent. That, of course, is why they built big.

Once again we see Greens being less efficient at measuring & thus opposing wastage than the price system.

Posted by: Neil Craig | Nov 6, 2006 4:21:39 PM