This is a brief addendum to my earlier essays on Conviviality and Good Governance.
In writing my recent paper about diesel cars, I found myself using the idea of “social cost.” The Business Dictionary defines this as “the expense to an entire society resulting from a news event, an activity or a change in policy.” Wikipedia calls it “the private cost plus externalities.” An externality from something is a cost or benefit that affects a party, who did not choose to incur that cost or benefit.
This set me thinking about how a convivial order, which includes a minimal system of good governance, would deal with such costs. (I’m assuming that an unintended benefit to others, or positive externality, wouldn’t require any action by anyone – except that the doer might choose to stop doing it.) The most obvious example of such a cost is the cost to others of pollution, such as air pollution, water pollution and noise pollution. But it can also be applied to other activities, such as the cost to innocent individuals of bad, politicized regulations and taxes. In this paper, however, for simplicity I’ll use the word “polluter” for the party causing such a cost.
(Author’s Note: This paper is an example of a relatively new phenomenon; “citizen science.” And citizen science deserves citizen peer review. I would, therefore, greatly appreciate review of this paper by those with the skills to do so; whether or not they live in the UK, or drive diesel cars. Thank you.)
The recent uproar over “toxin taxes” on diesel cars in the UK raises many questions. So, in this (long) essay, I’m going to try to get a handle on how big the cost of pollution from diesel cars really is, and whether the schemes being proposed to ameliorate it are sensible or not. To do that, I’ll try to estimate the so-called “social cost” of particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from diesel cars of different ages in the UK, in pounds per car per year.
If my calculations are right, there is some justification for central London pollution charges for diesel cars built before 2006; for, as I work it out, the social cost of the pollution from these cars is almost £300 per car per year. However, the further schemes in London and countrywide, that are planned to start as early as 2019, are out of all proportion to the reality of the problem. They will cost 8 million or so drivers of diesel cars, first registered between January 2006 and August 2015, orders of magnitude more than the social cost of the pollution their cars emit. Worse, these drivers – including me – may be forced to scrap our cars well before the end of their designed lives. Is this not grossly unjust?
According to my calculations, for a diesel car first registered between September 2010 and August 2015, like mine, the London ULEZ entry fees from 2019 for just two days in a year will be almost as much as the social cost of pollution from that car for the whole year, in comparison to a new (since September 2015) car, which won’t be charged at all. That is both unreasonable and unfair. Indeed, for both these cars and those first registered between 2006 and 2010, it would be far better and easier to collect the social cost of pollution through the yearly licence fee.
Thirty years ago, in April 1987, a new United Nations report was published. It came from the recently established World Commission on Environment and Development, and its title was Our Common Future. It was 300 pages long; and its preparation, which took two and a half years, had involved 23 commissioners and 70 or so experts and support staff. In addition, they solicited inputs from people and organizations, in many different countries, who had concerns about environmental and development issues. You can find the full text of the report at .
Today, most people seem unaware of this report. That’s a pity. For this is the document, which set in motion the green political juggernaut that has had such a huge, adverse effect on the lives of all good people in the Western world. The 30th anniversary is, I think, a good time to look back at, and to re-evaluate, this report. Not only in its own terms, such as asking how significant the issues it raised have proven to be, and how well these issues have been dealt with in the meantime. But also from a broader perspective, asking how well the process, both scientific and political, has measured up to the reasonable expectations of the people who have been subjected to its consequences.
Defeat Climate Alarmism
The climate change science is settled, but not how the climate alarmists want you to think.
1. Carbon is one of the three basic elements, along with hydrogen and oxygen, necessary to all life on Earth. Organic chemistry is defined as the study of substances containing carbon, and most of the dry mass of the human body mass is carbon. Continue reading
By ilana mercer
An “aging white population [is] speeding [up] diversity,” blared a headline on The Hill.
Once again, a Fake News outlet has confused cause and effect, giving readers the impression that the two trends—whites dying-out and minorities thriving—are spontaneous and strictly parallel.
The reverse is likely true. Corrected, The Hill headline should read:
Could speeding up diversity contribute to a decline in the white population? Continue reading
By ilana mercer
“We can deploy a half a billion more solar panels. We can have enough clean energy to power every home. We can build a new modern electric grid. That’s a lot of jobs; that’s a lot of new economic activity.” So intoned Hillary Clinton, during the first presidential debate at Hofstra University, New York, on September 26. Continue reading
I won’t get into that fruitless debate about “what art is”. But what we can surely say is that anything that “society” considers to be “art” at any given time is a reflection of the sensitivities and mental state of said “society”. This is especially the case if a particular work of “art” receives a prize.
Take, for example, the fake stone slab called “Lest We Forget Those Who Denied”. It was recently presented to the public at the Anglia Ruskin University, having received that place of education’s “2015 Sustainability Art Prize”. It’s made of plywood, painted all in black, and bears the names of six well known British “climate change sceptics” like Christopher Monckton, James Delingpole and Christopher Booker. A constant stream of engine oil runs over the inscription.