Emissions trading markets

The US has had a sulphur emissions market for a while. I don’t know as much as I’d like to about emissions trading, and the complexities of the market.

But I saw an interesting CBO piece out recently that focuses on market fundamentals and the abatement price. From their abstract:

Our empirical analysis finds that the SO2 market, similar to other emission markets studied in the literature, had relatively weak influence of market fundamentals for several years after launch—that is, allowance prices did not reflect marginal abatement costs for the first several years of operation. However, we find evidence of increased influence of market fundamentals after the first few years of the program but before a court decision that introduced significant uncertainty into the market in mid-2008.

And now, a chart.
But seriously, you should go read the paper.

When things go ‘viral’

The word ‘viral’, as it’s used currently, drives me a little crazy. But that’s a post for another time. There’s an excellent piece over on digg.com on why videos go ‘viral’, but audio content doesn’t.

I find it interesting to think about the reasons that different things get the attention they do. As one person notes in the piece (a longtime reporter writing on news issues, whose short interview of his daughters became famous):

“I’ve done a lot of work as a reporter that I’m pretty proud of,” he says. “I will never be recognized for anything for the rest of my life, except for this.”

One of the things that stayed with me from Kundera’s Immortality (an excellent novel, by the way) is the idea that writers (or at least some of them) seek a kind of fame through their writing. Never mind that even the most famous authors, names that we think of as ubiquitous, are not truly immortal, simply that some semblance of an idea relating to them lives on. But still this idea, of achieving immortality, persists to a certain extent in popular culture.

But that immortality in turn depends on the … acceptance, the memory, the persistence of a group of humans that keep talking about the book a person has written, or the poem they created, or the painting they made.

Nothing quite exposes the fallacy of literary or artistic immortality so much as a million, or a hundred million people, looking at a picture of an angry cat. If that’s the path to ‘immortality’ – then perhaps there is a path of sorts, that way, but it appears to be a very different path to the one of high minded writers, clamouring for a purportedly different kind of literary immortality.

There is a pleasure to be had in creating something beautiful – absolutely. But it’s equally possible to create something incredible, and sit on it for your lifetime, without it ever becoming known. Or to create it, have it be recognised, and then gradually washed away by time; this is an unknown unknown, but I imagine there are incredible masterpieces that have never received the attention they ‘deserve’, because of linguistic barriers, power structures, or sheer misfortune.

I don’t know what more to say about that, simply that I find it a little sad, and also somewhat freeing.



I’m doing more of it. Surviving Anxiety is an excellent essay, so far.

I’ve also been enjoying Under Wildwood, which feels like Narnia, but better, I think.

I finished The Glass Castle, which was moving and utterly devastating. If you’re like me and you want to find out more about how a person who writes that is like, maybe you’ll find this interview interesting: How Jeannette Walls spins good stories out of bad memories. I have no idea as to the accuracy of the book, but it’s an interesting read.

My Christmas reading – Swerving

I’ve enjoyed the Christmas break. I finished up Borge’s short stories, which were superb.

I also finished The Swerve, which was an interesting and overall enjoyable read.

I should add that I’m not a historian – I enjoy pop history, but I don’t have the expertise to really evaluate it critically. But I liked The Swerve – it was interesting to see how an idea played out over time; how it influenced different spheres, how the idea travelled at different points. Because as I think about it, that’s essentially what Stephen Greenblatt is doing. He talks about history (and the edition I read is sub-titled How the Renaissance began); but the focus is really on ideas; through history, certainly, but his thesis is on the transmittal of that idea across, time, space, and human societies.

If I had a criticism, it’s that he doesn’t flesh out that aspect of his story well. He tells a great story, and does it in a readable, and easy to follow way; we hear about book hunting, about the main characters, about the tangential dramas they encounter. There’s gossip on different aspects of the societies that are relevant – Roman, different late medieval settings, and the Renaissance.

But when it comes to talking about the idea, and how it shaped society, it feels a little tenuous at points. Granted, the nature of what he’s writing about is probably such that you can’t do something exhaustive. But it feels tenuous to quote a few passages from Shakespeare, Giordano Bruno, and a few other authors to argue that the idea was causal. Perhaps it’s simply that I don’t have a background in the area; but it seems like quite an unsupported assertion. At the very least, it would have helped if he’d acknowledged some of the many other influences and factors that were at play. At points, it felt as though he was simply saying ‘and so, this idea is used that is similar to the one I’m focusing on’.