Sunday, October 30, 2011

Foundation Seminar Slides

As I previously wrote, my "foundation seminar" is this Tuesday, 1st November at Crawford School at 12:30pm (yes, Melbourne Cup Day). There will also be some lunch/drinks before that. The slides are now online. I'm thinking to do a blogpost series on the stylized facts after I give the seminar. Maybe someday this will be a paper too.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Energy and Climate Policy

The NYT has special section on energy. It's a mixed picture with stories about technological breakthroughs mixed with stories about reduced public support for some alternative energy sources. Meanwhile, Clive Spash has a new paper with Alex Lo on Australian climate policy. As you'd expect they are critical of it as it's not radical enough and is too generous to large polluters in their opinion.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

How Does PLoS ONE Have Such a High Impact Factor?

The journal accepts 70% of papers, so how come it has an ISI impact factor of more than 4? The journal accepts all papers that are technically correct, irrespective of significance. That's why we sent our recent paper on malaria and climate change there after dealing with reviewers who didn't like the work or claimed it not to be important at other journals.

An article from last year says that it is due to the $1350 publication fee. Authors who have the money are probably stronger as they have research grants or work at well-funded universities.* Though as the article points out they will waive the fee for anyone who claims they can't afford to pay. Also impact factors are higher in biomedical areas than others. The typical medical article in an ISI journal gets 6 citations after 2 years, which implies an impact factor of 3. I think another reason is that the journal is open access.

The author, Phil Davis, thinks that PLoS ONE could face a problem if they get a flood of low quality articles chasing the impact factor, which would impose costs on the journal as they would have to reject them and not get paid. At the moment the academic editors are volunteers and so the costs of rejected articles are lower than that of accepted ones. But they could move to a submission fee model in that case and only waive fees for developing country authors or not at all.

In 2010 PLoS ONE's IF increased despite publishing more articles.

(HT: Tom Kompas)

* There is an assumption that an author won't pay the fee from their private funds. We paid the fee using my coauthor's funding from the Wellcome Trust who mandate open access publication.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Shale Gas

"Unconventional" shale gas obtained through hydraulic fracturing or fracking has been very controversial recently. Local residents have claimed that their water has been contaminated in areas of Pennsylvania by the activities of the gas companies. There has also been concern about earthquakes triggered by the process. It turns out according to Robert Howarth (brother of Rich Howarth, editor of Ecological Economics) et al. that due to heightened methane emissions, gas obtained in this way has a higher total warming potential in the short run (of several decades) than does using coal. This is despite the fact that when burnt gas emits around half the CO2 for each joule than does coal and gas combustion is on average more efficient in producing electricity - it is a higher quality fuel. I've long wondered about whether leakage of methane gas negated the benefit of reduced carbon dioxide from natural gas, which is one reason I researched the literature on global emissions of methane. It turns out that emissions from conventional gas production and distribution systems do not negate the greenhouse benefits of gas.* But emissions from fracking might.

* Wigley (2011) argues that in the short-run switching to conventional natural gas from coal increases global warming even without any methane leakage. This depends on the reduction in sulfate aerosols produced by burning coal, which cool the climate. But sulfate aerosols are being reduced anyway even if we stick with coal use. This is taken into account in Wigley's analysis - switching to gas though still results in a faster than BAU reduction in aerosols. OTOH even under a 10% leakage rate switching to gas reduces climate change relative to BAU after 2140.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Economic Logic Links CCEP Paper to Current US Political Debate

Some republican candidates for president are saying that they would create jobs by cutting regulation, and in particular environmental regulation, as recently discussed by Paul Krugman. The Economic Logic blog links Bruce Chapman's recent CCEP paper to this current US political debate. In the Australian case, the mining industry is growing and predicted job losses are in terms of fewer net jobs being created in the industry rather than absolute losses. And the headline figures ignore the number of jobs being created elsewhere. Bruce also shows how the numbers are small compared to the annual flows of workers in and out of employment. So even if the predictions are true the effects are unlikely to be noticeable to anyone in particular.

2010 Annual Energy Review is Released

The US Energy Information Administration has released the 2010 Annual Energy Review. It is a great resource. I often use graphics from the AER when teaching. posted a great chart from the report of the cost of addition to oil reserves. But, very disappointingly, they have dropped the chapter on international trends from this year's report. This was the chapter that was most useful for me.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Foundation Seminar

As I am a new professor and continuing academic staff member in the Crawford School I am scheduled to give what is called a "Foundation Seminar" also known as an "Inaugural Lecture". This will be on Tuesday, 1st November in the Acton Theatre at the Crawford School. There will be drinks from 12pm with the seminar from 12:30-1:30pm. The title and abstract follow:

Energy and Economic Growth: The “Stylized Facts”

In 1961, Nicholas Kaldor highlighted six “stylized’’ facts to summarize the patterns that economists had discovered in national income accounts and to shape the growth models being developed to explain them. Recently Charles Jones and Paul Romer introduced a set of “new Kaldor facts” for growth economics. This lecture will attempt to summarize what we know about energy and economic growth in a similar set of stylized facts and to explain the patterns we see. It will draw on the recent research of the speaker and colleagues in Australia and Europe.

There should be a video available after the event and I'll post the slides too.

Guest Post on the "Oil Drum"

A guest post written by me appeared today on the blog "The Oil Drum". It's a summary and commentary on my paper "The Role of Energy in Economic Growth" which appeared in Ecological Economics Reviews this year. There are a lot of comments. Go over there to read them. I'll try to respond to some of them soon (it's a crazy day over, today for me (Energy Change Institute open day where I'm presenting, CRWF8000 teaching, and the IPCC WG3 ZOD deadline looming). I've also added "The Oil Drum" to the blogroll.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Special Issue of Climatic Change on RCP Scenarios

A little while ago I blogged about van Vuuren et al.'s paper that provides an overview of the new emissions scenarios - called RCPs - that will be used in the IPCC's 5th Assessment Report (AR5). You can now access all the papers in the special issue from a summary page. I think that these are all open access papers. There is also a special issue on the way the AR5 will deal with uncertainty. A number of these papers are open access.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pascual et al. Respond

Mercedes Pascual and colleagues have written a response to our paper in PLoS ONE. Our paper is largely a response to the Pascual and colleagues criticism of our 2002 papers in Nature, Emerging Infectious Diseases, and Trends in Parasitology.

I won't comment on it further at this stage until my colleagues have had time to read it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sims and Sargent Win Nobel Prize in Economics

Sims and Sargent were announced as winners of the Nobel Prize in economics on Monday. I've been a heavy user of vector autoregression models in my career including this recent paper, which discusses some of the issues that Sims discussed in his 1980 paper "Macroeconomics and Reality". I met Sims once at Princeton. I visited the department for a few days to work with David Bradford. I gave a presentation on applying time series econometrics to climate change, which he attended. That was a bit scary :)

BTW, this is also the 500th post on Stochastic Trend!