I have been frequenting this board for 18 years now. Things seem less promising now than 18 years ago or at least there is less hype. I first came here looking for to go long fuel cells but when I researched FC's and BLDP I went short.
Back 18 years ago there seemed to be a new announcement about progress on fuel cells, batteries, solar, cleaner nuclear power, revolutionary ICE every day. Big change seemed near but not so now. Plenty of small improvement have been made big improvement seem farther away than then.
Here is Adam Smith on "so far":
"The annual produce of the land and labour of England, for example, is certainly much greater than it was, a little more than a century ago, at the restoration of Charles II. Though, at present, few people, I believe, doubt of this, yet during this period, five years have seldom passed away in which some book or pamphlet has not been published, written too with such abilities as to gain some authority with the public, and pretending to demonstrate that the wealth of the nation was fast declining, that the country was depopulated, agriculture neglected, manufactures decaying, and trade undone. Nor have these publications been all party pamphlets, the wretched offspring of falsehood and venality. Many of them have been written by very candid and very intelligent people; who wrote nothing but what they believed, and for no other reason but because they believed it."
The following is from a great blog post by Bryan Caplan of course cheap FC's would add to the great:
1. Industrialization. So far, industrialization has launched mankind from the ubiquitous poverty of the farmer age to the amazing plenty of the modern age.
2. Population growth. So far, population growth has greatly improved living standards by increasing the total number of idea creators, and hence the global rate of innovation.
3. Computers. So far, computers have made human existence not only markedly richer, but much more entertaining.
4. Nuclear physics. So far, nuclear physics has allowed the creation of cheap, clean energy. And it's far from clear that the net body count of the nuclear bomb even exceeds zero. A conventional conquest of Japan probably would have exceeded the body counts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
5. Immigration. So far, immigration - especially from poor countries to rich countries - has lifted hundreds of millions of people and their descendants out of poverty, with no clear harm to host countries' institutions.
Still, in each case, the "so far" proviso sounds ominous. Anyone given to morbid thinking can imagine that these so-far-wonder-working social forces are leading to utter disaster. Let the nightmares begin! Industrialization could lead to environmental apocalypse or global totalitarianism. Population growth could lead to mass famine. Computers could lead to ultra unfriendly Artificial Intelligence - the Terminator scenario. Nuclear physics could lead to all-out nuclear war. Immigration could destroy First World institutions, making the whole world into the Third World.
For the numerate, of course, the mere ability to weave nightmare scenarios is no reason to lift a finger. Probabilities are essential. How can we estimate these probabilities? In practice, most of us pick out a few "serious" nightmares on ideological grounds, and dismiss the rest as too silly to entertain. But that hardly seems like a reliable way to pro
How Berkshire Hathaway thinks about climate change
by Tyler Cowen on February 27, 2016 at 8:57 am in Economics, Science | Permalink
From their new report (pdf, pp.25-26):
…insurance policies are customarily written for one year and repriced annually to reflect changing exposures. Increased possibilities of loss translate promptly into increased premiums.
Up to now, climate change has not produced more frequent nor more costly hurricanes nor other weather-related events covered by insurance. As a consequence, U.S. super-cat rates have fallen steadily in recent years, which is why we have backed away from that business. If super-cats become costlier and more frequent, the likely – though far from certain – effect on Berkshire’s insurance business would be to make it larger and more profitable.
As a citizen, you may understandably find climate change keeping you up nights. As a homeowner in a low-lying area, you may wish to consider moving. But when you are thinking only as a shareholder of a major insurer, climate change should not be on your list of worries.