The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), an American science advocacy group known for its stance against global warming, would like to inform us all of the dastardly behaviour of the fossil fuel companies.

The UCS’s recent paper links global climate changes to the product-related emissions of fossil fuel producers, focusing on the oil, gas and coal producers as well as cement manufacturers. The paper criticises those companies for their impact on climate change, such as the rise of sea levels and the increase in global temperatures.

The point of the paper is to assign responsibility – and thus the potential job of clearing it all up – to those who dug and pumped up those fuels.

The problem with this is that the basic contention is tosh. For whatever responsibility there is for emissions lies not with those who made the supply, but with those who demanded it. It’s you, me and our grandparents and our selfish desires for transport and warmth in winter to blame here.


Sir, Liam Byrne says that tech giants should be adopting policies from Britain’s glory days through such things as profit-sharing and worker ownership (Thunderer, Oct 10). In this manner they can take the high road and thus benefit the wider structure of society. I would hope that the shadow minister for the digital economy would have a working knowledge of the industry of which he speaks, but there is little evidence of it. The industry already works on share options and stock grants — the very method by which the profits and ownership are shared with the workers.
Tim Worstall
Senior fellow, Adam Smith Institute

Still not managed the last letter yet though, an ambition still to be achieved.


Employment growth and technological change really do tend to come from new market entrants, not those already extant. And as with new ideas that advance one death at a time as the academic establishment winnows itself, so too with companies. When one firm optimised for a specific task finds that task no longer needs doing, then corporate death is the correct response. Distribute the assets again into new places so that other problems can, and will, be addressed.

Fun how the sums never do add up, isn’t it?

Simon Woolley and The Guardian are telling us all how appallingly white Britain’s elite is. This is rather a large campaign by them in fact. One part of which gives us our nomination for the most egregious piece of innumeracy to appear in The Guardian:

But right now, the path to power for minorities is strewn with rocks and hurdles. A BBC study last year – accompanying David Harewood’s documentary Will There Ever Be a Black Prime Minister? – highlighted the fact that 50% of the 2014 intake for Oxford and Cambridge University was taken from five private schools.

Surely one of The Guardian’s editors was going to catch that? After all, most of them did go to private schools and then onto Oxbridge. They’d thus have personal experience of the relative sizes of the various institutions.

On The Guardian’s the Colour of Power report

But their real error lies in their complete refusal to even engage with the subject of age cohorts. They draw their numbers for BAME Britons from the 2011 census. Which is the right source, it’s the best we’ve got, it gives us some 12.5 per cent of the population as such. But that same census also lays out that ethnic composition by age group. Among those over 85 – what we might call the top dogs of the last generation, or at least those they were drawn from – we’ve about 2 per cent BAME. Among those under 4 we seem to have some 21 per cent BAME. It’s a reasonable gradient between those two as well.

Large scale immigration is a fairly recent phenomenon. As such, the portion of BAME Britons declines as we work our way up through the age cohorts. Sure, we can all argue about which group we should be using as our proper comparator here, maybe it’s those past 50, or past 55, but we do start to get to groups which are some 7 and 8 per cent BAME when we consider those we think will have risen to float on the cesspool of national power.

It’s a truly terrible report.


Anne Perkins manages that rarity in The Guardian: a piece with a headline which is true. She complains that Ryanair isn’t just an airline, “it’s a parable for our greedy times”. And indeed it is. Although not quite in the way she thinks, of course.

On that Brexit divorce bill thingie

This also means that whatever the bill ends up being, it is a sunk cost. We’d definitely have to pay if we stayed, we’re going to have to pay – preferably a figure at the lower end of the range – if we leave, thus the bill has no effect whatsoever on the decision to stay or go. That’s what we mean by sunk cost.

To put this another way, to remain would be to sign up to a never ending series of those €100 billion payments, to leave is to draw that line in the sand beyond which we can indeed spend the cash on the NHS if we so wish. Or even not tax ourselves and leave the money fructifying in our pockets.

There simply isn’t a Brexit divorce bill at all, there’s only a clarification of how much continued membership would cost us.

Well, there’s quotation and then there’s quotation

More Conservative idiocy. This time from the self-styled salon intellectuals at CapX, or to you and me the place where brain cells go to die. Chewing up bandwith in defence of indefensible class privilege this week saw Tim Worstall hail the Conservative triumph (his phrase) that are … food banks.

The actual quote is:

But this leads us to question why this is a conservative (but not Conservative) movement and system of organisation.

Malevolence or just the incompetence of the state education system in this literacy stuff?


Civil Engineering becomes “mud. And there is always mud.” Boxing is “hit. don’t get hit.” Economics is “incentives matter. Opportunity costs.” If you can get your mind around those two points then you’ll be doing better than all too many professional economists.
The first is obvious, people react to what they’ll get from doing or not doing something. The second is rather more subtle and it’s something that economists really do insist upon. The cost of doing something is whatever you give up to do that thing.
The cost of making love to your mistress is not making love to your wife that afternoon, not unless your lifestyle is very much more exciting than that of most of us. Being slightly more serious one of the costs of going into business making mobile phones is not being able to use the capital, the buildings, the land, to make cars.
We’ve had to give up our ambitions to be Henry Ford in order to be one of the Ambani brothers (preferably the one making money).
There are always opportunity costs because we can always be doing something else other than what we actually are doing. The cost of whatever it is is whatever it is we give up to do it.

That mistress and wife point is probably one that makes more sense to an older, rather than younger, man.


It’s a common mental disorder that one or other of us knows what everyone else should be forced to do. Our own liberalism is based in the fact that we’ve not a scoobie about what will maximise the happiness of others, good grief, the existence of Simon Cowell proves that. Thus our basic prescription that people should be stopped from doing what damages the rights of others and after that left alone to do as they please.

An extract

It’s as if the government doesn’t know what it’s doing, isn’t it? And that cannot possibly be true about the NHS, an absurd thought. For we all know that it’s so exquisitely managed that no system in the world comes near it.

Timmy elsewhere

It’s a rather unlovely thought that part of our economic system, capitalism, is driven by the base motive of greed for profit. It’s the other part of it, those markets and their competition, which lead to why it makes the rest of us so rich. For the combined system does one thing extraordinarily well – it makes things cheap in short order.

In 2007 the iPhone was $500; today no one makes anything that feeble and entry prices are still only, what, $20? That’s not a bad recommendation for an economic system, really.