|Free markets bitch
||[Sep. 4th, 2008|10:50 pm]
I rarely repost anything verbatim, but Scott Adams is right on the money about this and has saved me the effort of writing a less coherent version of the same thing.
High oil prices have unleashed a flood of venture capital and creative genius on the problems of energy and global warming. Hardly a day goes by without another credible breakthrough in turning sun, wind, waves, water and who-knows-what into useful energy. Even if the vast majority of those ideas don't pan out, the surviving ideas will probably be enough to make oil obsolete. That's my guess anyway. And I think it will happen at Internet speed when it finally ramps up, not the usual fifty year horizons you always hear about.While I've argued that the markets by themselves will get there somewhat slower than ideal (which would be "already"), I think they will get there well before oil prices become a credible threat to our profligate energy consumption, which we will continue.
The thing I wonder is whether the government has any useful role in fostering these advances, other than staying out of the way. You hear the candidates for president talking about encouraging this, or incenting that, or catalyzing whatever. But when billions of dollars of profit are on the line, does anyone need any extra incentive? I doubt it. The market should be taking care of that stuff, and seems to be moving in the right direction.
It's a pity that Adams doesn't get taken more seriously as a pundit; his day job as a cartoonist seems to hurt him there. His blog posts are very insightful even when he's joking — wait, especially when he's joking. I think this is no coincidence: to be a successful comic, you have to be able to look past society's collective delusions and see things as they are, and this gives you a certain amount of wisdom. (Bill Watterson comes to mind.)