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Comment Re:Again, false solutions ... (Score 3, Informative) 127

The big problem with addressing global warming is that the ability (and cost) associated with mitigating global warming is not located in the same places that are most likely to be adversely affected by global warming.

Asking individuals to change their behavior (or pay a tax) for social programs even in their own backyard is hard enough, yet the climate change folks want to impose costs for people literally on the other side of the globe.

Now I'm not saying that trying to mitigate effects of climate change isn't worthy - it's just that the way people go about trying to get people to make changes is missing the boat as far as how to convince people to make a difference goes. Instead of encouraging, educating, and unifying people, mostly what we see is almost-dictatorial decrees about "you must stop X" and is very vilifying and divisive. Even the jabs thrown between the "deniers" and "supporters" don't actually get anything done.

Make efforts that are appealing now (both personally and economically) without vilifying people, and we'll get some traction. Saying "we're doomed, and you're evil because you don't want to change X in your life!" isn't a helpful approach.

Comment Re:Might as well ... (Score 1) 105

I'd say insulation is your best bang for the buck. Rather than replacing windows (yes, very expensive) you should consider just putting in heavy curtains or blinds; the air barrier they provide can be quite effective. Yes, this affects lighting, but if you do it selectively, such as in rooms that aren't often occupied, you can get a big impact for little cost. Even closing AC registers in little-used rooms helps.

We are in the process of switching to LEDs, but generally we do it when an existing bulb burns out. But that said, lighting is probably maybe 10% of our electrical budget. Number 1 is AC, number 2 is most likely our 20-year-old refrigerator which needs replacing anyway since its seals are going and it's just got an inconvenient internal layout.

Biggest thing though: we have about 1800 sq.ft, and we are only cooling from the mid-high 80s (F) to about 74. When I was a kid and lived in a warmer area, we cooled in the summer from mid-high 90s down to the low 80s; humidity control was more important than the temperature. Minimizing the temperature differential is a huge factor in energy cost.

Comment Re:Might as well ... (Score 1) 105

Of course this past month has been pretty high, with the AC running all the time, but we used 4,189 kWh last month.

I was feeling really bad about the 780kW-hr or so we used at my house last month, but now I don't feel bad about that at all. Anything over about 20kW-hr/day makes me think we need to conserve more*. But an average of well over 100kW-hr/day? Wow.

*I'm always running around the house turning off lights in rooms that are unoccupied, ceiling fans running when nobody's home, stuff like that.

Comment Re:I'm spending 60% of my monthly income on rent (Score 1) 940

I've often thought along these lines - something like "your tax rate is a function of your wealth percentile" coupled with all income being taxable and provisions to avoid "hiding" income (e.g., you can't say "this income went to this company, not to me.")

A simple example would be something like, "Income tax rate is your wealth percentile squared." So if you were in the top 1% (99th percentile), your tax rate would be 98%, but if you were in the 50th percentile, your tax rate would be 25%.

This would essentially prevent concentration of wealth into the hands of a few, because at some point the diminishing returns mean the uber-rich wouldn't have any income left with which to purchase new property.

Note the de-coupling here: the tax is on income but the tax rate is based on wealth. So if you basically own nothing but suddenly make $1M, you pay very little tax. Then the next year, say, you have zero income but have that $1M in the bank (as wealth). You pay zero tax - your tax rate would be higher (due to having $1M assets) but zero income.

This mechanism would be simple (aside from trying to address the attribution of wealth to particular individuals and defining income. Easy, right?) and would "naturally" (as naturally as you can get with only force of law) address the pesky wealth distribution issue. It would also appeal to those who want to get rid of estate taxes; you would be free to live off your estate, tax free, so long as you had no additional income. But as soon as you generate income, it's taxed based on the size of the estate.

There would also need to be some reconsideration of municipal taxes which are currently property-value based; those might be better instead changed to actually be a per-capita tax since most municipal costs (education, police, fire, roads) scale with population, not with property value.

Comment Re:Memory Safe Languages As Countermeasure (Score 4, Insightful) 165

Five letters generally prevent most of the software *coding* issues found in critical automotive software: MISRA.

Failures that happen in automotive software are almost never coding issues, but rather design issues. For instance, even the "infamous" Toyota brake control issues were due to design, not faulty coding.

Switching languages is actually more likely to introduce more errors than reduce them, since you've now likely added coding errors on top of the design issues.

(And I second the other poster mentioning things like compile-time allocation of all objects. I have never seen a dynamically-allocated anything in any of the embedded programs on which I've worked in the main code stream; closest we came was in a data logger which wrote to a dedicated area of flash, on a separate chip even from the main micro.)

Comment Re:Hang on WTF? (Score 1) 191

That someone provided him with all the equipment and capabilities to do the research why the hell should he be awarded the patent?

And herein lies the great virtue and vice of capitalism: the assignment of profits to the owner of capital, rather than the one who made the capital useful.

It doesn't have anything to do with fairness - it's just the way capitalism is set up. There are many good and bad things with this setup; most of the good came about during the time of physical wealth; most of the bad is showing up with the "intangible" wealth.

Let's say you own the lab in which the guy who invented LEDs (original, not just blue). Should (economically? morally? how do you avoid rent-seeking?) the guy who invented LEDs get income from every single LED ever produced, or every device inspired by the LED? Should the lab? How do you fairly allocate possibly infinite income to any individual or corporation? When does an inventor's or capital-owner's interest (and share) get exhausted? Should this interest be exhausted in the first place?

It's sadly not as simple as "without patents there would be no incentive to invent" or "all patents should be abolished."

Comment Re:Sounds suspiciously like welfare. (Score 1) 109

I had a slight error - I shouldn't have said "supply and demand for currency" but rather "supply and demand for things purchased by currency".

That is - as long as currency is separate from actual goods and services, if you don't balance the demand for those goods and services, a "basic income" is almost futile because the value of goods and services relative to that currency is always going to be a moving target.

If all you do is give people currency, but don't actually give people more of the things that are useful to buy with that currency, it's only an accounting exercise.

It doesn't help that it's a very multi-variable problem. Sometimes there is incentive to increase supply when prices increase, thus helping mitigate price increases - but only in instances with low barriers to entry to increase supply. Sometimes - especially in situations where there is a physical or legal constraint on supply (such as housing, or professional sports say) - there is incentive to keep supply low and simply extract higher rent. Basic income alone cannot ameliorate that type of situation.

Comment Re:Sounds suspiciously like welfare. (Score 1) 109

I think I generally agree with what you're saying, but let me paraphrase to make sure: Basic income would work, so long as there wasn't such a thing as supply and demand for currency.

The only way I can see "basic income" working is if we also mandate that prices cannot be raised; to make (more) profit this would mean production must be increased, rather than just make profit based on increased demand for a scarce good.

Something tells me the problem thus isn't a technical one related to the existence of basic income or welfare, but rather a social one.

Comment Re:Time to end it (Score 1) 232

Shipping as well as cruise ships also are major polluters

Yup. Something like 4.5% of all direct CO2 emissions, give or take. So about twice as bad as air travel, but probably 10 times simpler to fix than for aircraft because of easier constraints on weight and much less stringent safety requirements, etc.

Of course, aircraft are basically going to be switching to carbon-neutral* bio-kerosene in the next two decades or so anyway, so the argument against air travel is kind of moot.

*Assuming the energy used to make it is not carbon-combustion based.

Comment Re:noooo (Score 4, Insightful) 560

But the net is hugely negative. 1/3 of the world's people are close enough to a coast that they will have to do something when sea levels rise.

So why don't people move now before they're underwater? Put another way - have all the people who are proclaiming coming disaster started moving their assets away from the coasts? Why are we focusing on emissions rather than moving people now? Surely moving people is cheaper (and more direct - that is, localized) than trying to control emissions. Such a thing would avoid depending on other people to fix their behaviors - it would also guarantee an outcome, rather than a probabilistic estimate of what happens if we curb emission X.

People must really place a huge time preference on things to delay moving in spite of the proposed huge future costs. Or, they just don't believe it... or the "speed" of things isn't really as fast enough for people to care.

Climate Change is happening too fast for much life to cope. The speed of the change is all negative.

This is both defeatist and probably more political than technical. If political will is high enough, humans can do crazy things in short (e.g., decade-span) timeframes, especially when we don't have to invent anything but just have to move people inland or build hydroponics or desalination plants etc. It's all political, not technical. If we want to reduce the cost of sea level rise, why not tax people closer to the coast, and reduce tax away from the coast? Rhetoric talks, but money walks. And hitting the individual harder (rather than corporations) will motivate people much faster than not. Hell if you think the future disaster is high enough, you should ask your governments to build everyone living within X of a coast a brand new house inland and giving it to them (and personally be willing to be taxed for it), because that will cost less than the future cost of disaster mitigation later.

I guess, at the end of the day, the focus is too one-sided on emissions, rather than on relocation or adaptability. I know if I lived close to a coast, I would move inland rather than rely on some disparate group of companies and nations to reduce their emissions which will maybe prevent my land from eroding away or getting hit with bad weather in my or my child's lifetime.

I would rather put in policies to avoid turning inland (midwest US for instance) farmland into subdivisions - I hate to see our local farmland turning into cookie-cutter homes; reducing farmland seems to make us more sensitive, not more robust.

So that's what I mean by too narrow focus, in tech, in media, etc - everyone is focused on emissions, not on adaptation. If we don't adapt, we die - trying to refuse to adapt is actually worse in my mind.

Comment Re:noooo (Score 5, Insightful) 560

And, at the same time, it was the coldest year in Chicago's recorded history. Who knew?

Well, yes, because "global" warming isn't really global - a global average is kind of meaningless for determining the local effects in any given region.

The problem I have with global climate change "debate" is not that climate is changing, but that there is an assumption that the net effect will be negative. Some regions will surely become less hospitable, and some will become more hospitable. I'm disappointed that more studies haven't shown which will prevail (or if there will be a net neutral effect). Instead we just get fear mongering about famine and war.

Also, I still believe the focus is on the wrong thing: rather than try and stop climate change (after all, if it doesn't change because of CO2, it may change due to something else) we should try and work on technologies so we can survive - no, thrive - regardless of the climate. (Isn't that what humanity has done for most of its existence anyway?)

Comment Re:Externalities (Score 1) 222

If A and B have to decide whether to make a transaction, while C will be harmed if the transaction happens but has no say in whether it happens, that's an externality and market forces do not account for it under any economic model I've ever heard of.

Except with the environment, it's a little murky, because A, B, and C are all affected (perhaps not equally or at the same time, I'll admit). So it's not a "pure" externality at least.

...pretty much all economists agree that a carbon price is the most market-efficient way of doing that...

But what price do you pick? There's no "free market" way to do this. Cap-and-trade will result in a free market price for the available credits or whatever, except the amount of credits is arbitrary. If there was a way for the "market" to determine the available credits, that would be one thing - but there isn't; it's all done by decree. (Kind of a reverse externality if you will - groups A and B decide that this is the level of emissions that's allowed, C's opinion or needs be damned.)

That said, yes, an artificial price on emissions may result in people reducing consumption of those things that emit, depending on the elasticity of demand for those things.

Comment Re:That was 3 years ago (Score 1) 222

This is one place I wish market purists would get on board--put a price on carbon, and solutions will come out of the woodwork and plummet in price.

Except market purists balk at this because "putting a price on carbon" is an artificial thing - it's screwing around with the markets. The markets have already spoken: the externalities of climate change (relocation costs, war, health costs) have a lower cost than trying to develop alternatives. These costs are already really accounted for, even though they aren't necessarily applied at the source of "carbon" emission.

Real Programs don't use shared text. Otherwise, how can they use functions for scratch space after they are finished calling them?