I plan to do a more complete reply to Brad Johnson, though primarily as a jumping off point to ramble on about a lot of energy and climate change things that I think.

However, I wanted to address a few concerns right now before I have time to write the longer post.image_thumb4

First and most importantly, while I welcome most of his criticism with open arms Brad did commit a most heinous and unforgivable crime. He broke the hearts of geeky schoolgirls the internet over, by posting a most unflattering picture of me.

Much of the damage is sadly irreversible. Nonetheless, I will do what I can to assure all my pre-teen readers that in real life I am as Bieberlicious as I am clever.

What  this implies for my adorability, I leave as an exercise to the reader.

Even less substantively I want to quickly address a few issues that cropped up around the internet.

1) No, that was not satire. Though, thank you for saying so. I genuinely believe that expanding the production of dirty energy is in the best interest of humanity.

2) I do well with puppies, but find kittens cuter. I like babies generally, though strongly prefer my own. And, yes I do love my mother.

3) Surprisingly perhaps, I am actually not utterly ignorant of the issues involved in climate change. Very early in my career I worked on environmental economics and in particular building the kind of computable general equilibrium models that Nordhaus uses. How that led to where I am is an interesting story, but very much unlike other academics, in my intellectual career building computer models and blogging are the two things that have brought me the most acclaim.

4) I am not really in any sense a conservative economist. Some people have called me a progressive though I don’t take that label either. In all seriousness I feel the most solidarity with what might be called Old Whigs. I am deeply and almost obsessively concerned with the plight of the less privileged, but I am a staunch anti-revolutionary, an unabashed elitist and a skeptic of excess democracy. This is a combination of positions rarely held in the 21st century but more common in the 18th.

5) Tail risk is something we should talk about more. I think people are treating this topic too lightly from a intellectual point of view. Its not clear to me that buying insurance against very deep in the tails calamities is a good idea. The utility functions written down to justify that don’t seem to reflect how people actually value things.

6) Deep uncertainty about the future is a big deal. However, as a rule uncertainty encourages dovishness. There are very specific cases when this might not be true, but generally speaking the more uncertain you are about the future the less willing you should be to suffer today for a better tomorrow.

One can think of it this way. On our last day on earth the best advice is always Eat, Drink and be Merry for tomorrow we will die. It’s the increasing assurance that you won’t die that makes this advice less prudent. Similarly as you become terminally ill you should be more reckless, not more careful.

7) Yes, encouraging people to think short-term is a major theme is lots of my posts because it is the biggest policy mistake I see people making but few people pointing out. To wax Hansonian for just a moment I think the core problem is that thinking long-term is a high status thing to do because smart people are better at it. Thus, being a long-term thinker signals that you are smart. However, as we might expect with status competitions this is overdone. And, because policy choices matter this affects the lives of real people negatively.