Wednesday, August 4, 2010


How efficiency groups and appliance makers figured out new energy efficiency standards. Here are the potential consequences:
The agreement signed by AHAM and the other groups proposes higher standards for these appliances. Some will inch forward with 5 percent savings; others will leap ahead with almost 50 percent…Refrigerators and freezers will use 10 to 30 percent less energy than current standards, depending on their type… The groups said the agreement, if adopted, would cut 550 million metric tons of CO2 over 25 years, the equivalent of taking 100 million cars off the road for a year.

The solar power plant that can produce power at night.

… proposals to solve the long-term budget deficit problem by cutting Medicare benefits are not solutions: they simply shift the problem from the government to individuals–which means they shift the problem from us as taxpayers to us as old people or us as family members of old people…If, for example, we increase the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67, the government saves money, but only because people who are 65 and 66 lose money–or, alternatively, all of us lose money because their employers now have to pay more for health care.
Similar reasoning, by the by, applies to why high-deductible plans won't work.

How much does early knee surgery for ACLs help?

Google’s director of research talks about failure:
If you're a politician, admitting you're wrong is a weakness, but if you're an engineer, you essentially want to be wrong half the time. If you do experiments and you're always right, then you aren't getting enough information out of those experiments. You want your experiment to be like the flip of a coin: You have no idea if it is going to come up heads or tails. You want to not know what the results are going to be.

The Spanish town that wants to be a nuclear waste dump.

Interesting: Was today’s poverty determined in 1000 B.C.? Will post expanded thoughts tomorrow, in all likelihood.

Chinese bank regulator orders worse-than-worst-case-scenario stress tests—with declines of 60% in some markets:
Expectations seem to be for a sharp decline in Chinese property prices over the next two years, with some, and perhaps significant, impact on Chinese banks. What's unclear is what that will mean for the Chinese economy. While the 60% figure is a bit unnerving, it signals that the Chinese government is determined to get ahead of potential difficulties in the banking sector (one wonders how the global recession might have played out had American officials demanded stress tests modeling large property price declines in 2006 rather than in 2009).

Private equity investment surges by over 50% in the emerging world. Sorry, emerging world. (Though I’m sure much of the emerging world is used to the looting type.)

A visual history of Las Vegas sprawl.

On government subsidies for fossil fuel:
…A report from Harvard's Kennedy Center last year found that the world could cut global CO2 emissions nearly 6 percent simply by scrapping price supports for fossil energy. And yes, removing subsidies might, in the short term, have a regressive impact in the form of higher energy prices, but countries could easily take the money saved and use it to cushion the blow, via efficiency upgrades or even lump-sum payments.

The worst offenders are China, India, and Russia, but note that the United States does plenty of fossil-fuel subsidizing, too. We may not bankroll gas-pump purchases the way Egypt or Venezuela do, but an analysis last year from the Environmental Law Institute found that the U.S. government offered $72 billion in incentives for oil, gas, and coal producers between 2002 and 2008. Most of that was in the form of 23 different tax credits, especially the credit for overseas production ($15.3 billion) and a credit for production of non-conventional fuel ($14.1 billion). The rest was in the form of grants, R&D money, and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Only $26 billion for clean energy, with $16 billion of that devoted to that wonderful “clean” fuel known as corn ethanol.

On a cheerier note, VCs are funding clean energy like crazy!

It’s the “life” that matters in end-of-life (touching essay.)

FDA to tighten rules on medical devices.

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