NEWSFLASH! In September I will join The Conversation as its Business and Economy Editor. I have been honoured to work at The Age for the past ten years, originally alongside the legendry Tim Colebatch, and for the past four years as economics editor in my own right.

At The Conversation, my job will be to make the best thinking from Australia's 40 univerisites accessible to the widest possible audience. That means you. From the new year I will also write a weekly column.

On this site are most of the important things I have written for Fairfax and the ABC over the past few decades. I recommend the Search function. The site is a record for you, as well as me.

I'll continue to post great things from The Conversation and other places here, and also on Twitter and Facebook. Enjoy.

Friday, December 18, 2009

"How can changing our economy cool the temperature?"


Err, by taxing (more precisely pricing) the activities that drive warming.

I'm worried, less so by Professor Ian Plimer, who takes part in the discussion outlined below and who distinguished himself memorably on LateLine, but by the man asking the question.

He is Luke Bona of 2GB, a Sydney radio station that was once taken seriously.

The audio's here, James Farrell had a go at the transcript, and I've checked it against the audio and made it completely accurate.



Bona: Penny Wong is saying changing our economy is crucial to fighting climate change. I wanna ask you, because I don’t understand this, how can changing the economy cool the temperature? [Plimer chuckles, as though this a self-evidently ludicrous connection]. I’ll repeat, I'll say again what she said. She says: ‘changing our economy is crucial to fighting climate change.’

Plimer: Well, I’m not so sure how throwing money up in the air and flushing it down our sewerage system is going to change climate. I think she needs to explain the science behaind that statement. That’s the sort of statement you make in the front bar of a pub after you’ve been there all day. [Laughs] It's quite entertaining.

Bona: I don't understand it either.



This wasn't even midnight to dawn.

Prices affect behaviour. Not every price change will change behaviour, some are too small relative to other forces at work. Sometimes the effect of income changes that take place at the same time overwhelm the price effect.

But pure price effects work, if the price is pushed high enough.

That's why we have fines. They change behaviour.

For an interviewer not to know this, or to pretend not to know it, saddens me on behalf the people who listen to a once serious radio outfit.

Yes I know that 2GB staff are prepped to play to prejudices. Defectors talk.

But I'm still saddened.



Related Posts

. Abbott also destroys tax reform

. Shock! Prices affect behaviour.

. Oil: Guess what? High prices cut sales.