My writings are grouped under the topic headings above. New items live here on the home page until I get around to filing them. Peer-reviewed articles are denoted **. Invited and edited articles or chapters are denoted *.
Newspaper Columns, Commentary and Other
"Immediately put it on and just love it." - L.M., Guelph ON
My band has released a new CD called The Dog-Eared Hymnal, in which we do for classic hymn tunes what we did last year for Christmas carols, namely arrange them into sets of jigs and reels, played on traditional Celtic instruments like fiddle, pipes, whistle and guitar. It's a lot of fun and we sound great IMO. Check out the samples on our Youtube video. Just like Making Spirits Bright this CD is a fundraiser for World Vision Canada, supporting the purchase of medical supplies for clinics in needy communities overseas. Copies can be purchased online for $20, or order 10 and the price drops to only $10 each.
LETTERS PAGE IN NATIONAL POST
There was something in the National Post letters page today (October 28 2013) that really made my day.
AFFIDAVIT IN PROVINCIAL ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW TRIBUNAL
I was asked by a lawyer involved in an appeal against the Provincial government's decision to dump a thousand megawatts worth of wind turbines in the backyards of a group of rural residents, if I would submit an affidavit and then provide expert testimony in rebuttal to the government's case. The Tribunal, having given the government several weeks to get its case together, gave our side a day to assemble its response, and my affidavit was therefore put together in about two hours. Nonetheless I think it is pretty persuasive. On Thursday October 10 I went into downtown Toronto to testify and be cross-examined on it. Instead of addressing the Tribunal I ended up sitting in a corridor outside the Hearing room for nearly 3 hours while the government lawyers argued that I should not be admitted as an expert, because my affidavit was irrelevant to the issues in the case. Eventually it seems the learned Tribunal accepted that point that since my affidavit rebuts material introduced by the government's expert witnesses, if the material I address is irrelevant, then by implication so are the affidavits of their experts, and they ought also to be excluded. This may yet happen. In the meantime, here is my affidavit (and I now have another date scheduled for giving testimony).
ECONOMIC GROWTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY COURSE
I teach a second year course on this topic at the University of Guelph. I am migrating much of the teaching materials over here to my own web page to take advantage of some convenient hosting options. Readers are welcome to make use of the material if it is of interest - see the EPEQ page under the 'More' link heading.
THE IPCC'S DILEMMA IN ONE GRAPH
FINANCIAL POST COLUMN: The IPCC's Dilemma in One Graph. As we await the coming IPCC Report, I am keen to see how they deal with the evidence in one of their own graphs, which indicates a strong tendency for climate models to exaggerate the warming effect of CO2 emissions. Their attempt to explain it away in the body of the report is risible. I take the graph as indicating that we are entering a decisive period in which the models will either be vindicated in spectacular fashion by a sudden and rather massive warming trend, or they will be seen to be irredeemably wrong. The German study I mentioned is here.
ENVIRONMENT AND INEQUALITY
I made an invited presentation to the CIGI conference "False Dichotomies" (Nov 16-17 2012) in a session on the theme of Environment and Inequality. My argument was that there is a kind of Environmental Kuznets Curve connecting social equity and the stringency of environmental policy. In heavily polluted economies, increased stringency and enforcement of regulation generates a mix of benefits and costs that benefit overall equity. But in modern, high income economies with low pollution levels, like Canada and the US, environmental policy overkill is becoming a means by which wealthy urban households derive warm glow benefits while passing the costs disproportionately onto low-income and rural households. My presentation slides are here. The entire session can be viewed online here. Peter Victor speaks first and then I come on at about the 14:00 mark.
Journal Articles and Discussion Papers
AVERAGE HOUSEHOLD SIZE AND THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MALARIA
I have completed a project with Finnish biologists Lena and Larry Hulden looking at explanatory factors for the pattern of malaria eradication around the world. We have found that declining average household size plays a big role, as does income. What doesn't play a role? Average temperature, among other things. We can't find any indication that a change in a country's climate will make malaria worse - in fact if anything, warmer temperatures are associated with less malaria, once the effects of income and household size are controlled for. The paper has just appeared in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society.
A detailed but non-technical discussion is here.
The data/code archive is here (note the readme file).
WHY IPCC EMISSION FORECASTS ARE LIKELY TOO HIGH
Joel Wood and I have a paper out in Energy Economics on per capita CO2 emission patterns around the world:
In it we test an idea that emerged in my paper with Mark Strazicich and Junsoo Lee, in which growth of emissions in one country or region appears to induce offsetting reductions elsewhere, leading to a constrained overall level of emissions per capita globally. Our conjecture is that the emergence of increasingly-integrated global energy markets worldwide has increased the transmission of price signals across countries, so that growing fuel consumption in one region forces up prices in other regions and induces offsetting emission reductions elsewhere. This leads to the co-fluctuation patterns referred to in the title. We tested this by using PC analysis to construct an index of the linkages of emission fluctuations across countries and found evidence that they have become more linked over time and across wider geographic regions. We also found evidence that price signals are likely the coordinating forces. This means that emissions scenarios (like the ones the IPCC uses) that allow emissions to grow rapidly in one region without inducing offsetting reductions elsewhere are missing a key mechanism that applies in the real world, which would constrain the growth of overall emissions. Current emissions per capita are around 1.3 tonnes per person globally. The IPCC uses emission scenarios that are reasonable through this decade, but which diverge starting around 2020, with the top end going to between 30 and 40 Gigatonnes of emissions globally. Since world population is expected to peak at around 10 billion people, this requires emissions per capita to reach between 3 and 4 tonnes, a target that appears economically impossible. Instead, emissions per capita will likely remain in the neighbourhood of 1.3 tonnes per person (give or take a few tenths), implying peak global emissions of around 15 to 20 Gigatonnes, half the IPCC peak range. So we deem the lower half of the forecast range more likely than the upper half.
ENCOMPASSING TESTS OF SOCIOECONOMIC SIGNALS IN SURFACE CLIMATE DATA
I have a new paper out in Climatic Change on the question of whether surface climate data are biased by non-climatic factors relating to socioeconomic development:
STATISTICAL EVALUATION OF IPCC EMISSION FORECASTS
I have a paper forthcoming in the Journal of Forecasting, coauthored with Mark Strazicich and Junsoo Lee, which looks at the probabilities of different IPCC emission forecasts. We examined the SRES forecasts which were used for the 3rd and 4th Assessment Reports. The paper was accepted last year but we are still waiting for the final published version to appear. The IPCC has traditionally referred to these scenarios as mere "projections" and treated each as equally probable. We looked at them probabilistically and found the top half of the distribution less likely than the bottom half, and in particular the top quarter are very difficult to justify. Our paper is here.