A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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The TPP monster has 5,544 pages. A real free trade agreement would have 1

Lately the Five Star Free Market label is just a fake seal of approval for something Unfree

Just as carbon trading has nothing to do with a free market, so it is with monster free trade deals like the TPP. The free market meme won the intellectual debate of the 20th Century, but now its good name gets used and abused to sell the idea it defeated –  bigger-government.

A real free market deal has only one page and a bunch of signatures. But it takes a lot of pages to list all the unfree parts and to spell it out in sub-sub-clauses that hurt or help thousands of businesses around the world. Who gets the sweetest deal out of the complexity — the card carrying networkers — those who schmooze up to the right minister or bureaucrat. The people who compete on price or quality alone would win in a real free market, and so would we as customers. Instead the document rewards the gatekeepers, the rulemakers, the industry with the best lobbyists and the monied set who can donate enough to the right causes to get a better deal.

Tipping the scales at 5,544 pages — [...]

The Emissions Trading Scheme monster idea is back – but the conversation is booby-trapped with fake words

It’s a tax that’s “not a tax” and a “free market” that isn’t free.

Joy. An emission trading scheme (ETS) is on the agenda again in Australia. Here’s why the first priority is to clean up a crooked conversation. If we can just talk straight, the stupid will sort itself out.

The national debate is a straight faced parody — it could be a script from “Yes Minister”, except no one would believe it. Bill Shorten argues that the Labor Party can control the world’s weather with something that exactly fits the definition of a tax, yet he calls it a “free market” because apparently he has no idea what a free market really is. (What union rep would?) It’s like our opposition leader is a wannabe entrepreneur building a  Kmart that controls the clouds. Look out Batman, Billman is coming. When is a forced market a free market? When you want to be PM.

The vandals are at the gates of both English and economics, and we can’t even have a straight conversation. The Labor Party is in flat out denial of dictionary definitions — is that because they can’t read dictionaries, or because they don’t want an honest [...]

Germany’s Greens help the coal industry, while the US cut emissions by ignoring the greens

Oh the dilemma. German Greens have been so “successful” that coal use is rising fast. They helped get rid of the nukes in 2011, punished coal, and subsidized “renewables”. But woe…. energy has to come from somewhere, so the paradoxical crunch comes. Green policies mean that everyone is poorer, but the cheapest energy comes from coal …

The coal industry must be praying for more Green activism:

“IT’S been a black Christmas for green thinkers as Germany, the world leader in rooftop solar and pride of the renewable energy revolution has confirmed its rapid return to coal.

After scrapping nuclear power, Germany’s carbon dioxide emissions are back on the rise as the country clamours to reopen some of the dirtiest brown coalmines that have been closed since the reunification of east and west. The Australian

Though some say the problem is “carbon credits” are too cheap. (We need to be poorer?)

“…new figures show that coal power output in 2013 reached its highest level in more than 20 years. Researchers blame cheap CO2 emissions permits, and demand urgent reforms.

The stats: Germany is using almost as much coal as it did in 1990:

In 1990, Germany’s brown coal-fired [...]

Jo Nova in The Australian: Carbon credits market is neither free nor worth anything

Credit to The Australian for printing both points of view. Published as an Op-Ed today.

Carbon credits market is neither free nor worth anything by: Joanne Nova From: The Australian July 31, 2013 12:00AM

THE paradox du jour: people who like free markets don’t want a carbon market, and the people who don’t trust capitalism want emissions trading. So why are socialists fighting for a carbon market? Because this “market” is a bureaucrat’s wet dream.

A free market is the voluntary exchange of goods and services. “Free” means being free to choose to buy or to not buy the product. At the end of a free trade, both parties have something they prefer.

[Those who know what real free markets are know that an emissions trading scheme is not and never can be a free market. The "Carbon-Market" is a market with no commodity, no demand, and no supply. Who needs a "carbon credit"? The government entirely determines both supply and demand.]

A carbon market is a forced market. There is little intrinsic incentive to buy a certificate for a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. It says a lot about the voluntary value of a [...]

Carbon ship sinking: Barclays bank closes its carbon desk

Gillard once lauded the genius of the carbon market. That part of the “free” market which is free to move, is moving — and right out. The smart money is saying that carbon trading is a dead dog. It’s a has-been-tulip, a sick puppy, a sinking ship.

The future of global carbon trading is so “certain” that Barclays Bank is not even bothering to leave one part time guy in the US office with a post box, so they can pretend they still have an interest in it. The mood has so changed, they see an advantage in letting the world know they’re not wasting a single cent more on carbon trading in the United States of America. Well that made my day. .

“That is not good news for carbon-dioxide trading, especially not in the US,”

Barclays was the first UK bank to set up a carbon trading desk, and fast to move into carbon trading: “Barclays Capital is the most active player in the emissions trading market, having traded some 300 million tonnes as at February 2007″.

Barclays Closes US Carbon Desk In Latest Cap And Trade Setback


Carbon Price just jumped 30% — It’s not a free market, it’s a fixed charade

A small group of selected rulers just raised a hand, changed the rules, and sent billions of dollars from some people to some others.

This type of arbitrary control over the  carbon market shows why it is a misnomer to call it a “free” market, and why a “market” is the wrong tool to try to use to reduce emissions. CO2 is a universal molecule, found in every walk of life and many inanimate processes. We can’t include them all, and someone somewhere gets to decide which ones count and which ones don’t, and how many of them we are allowed to emit in the first place.

Supply and demand of CO2 emissions are not set by a free market (you know, voluntary and willing participants exchanging things for mutual benefit). The bureaucrats just mandated an illusion of market forces, within a range set by said ‘crats. The price of carbon credits had gotten too painfully low for the rulers and their patrons and fans, so something had to be “done”. They made the carbon caps more stringent. If the price was too high, they would have loosened them (and they admit as much below). This has nothing to do [...]

The fickle nature of a fake free market

Carbon prices have plummeted in the US.

(So they are that much closer to their true value…)

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative sold 40.7 million permits for $1.88 each, 19 cents lower than the last auction held in March and 2 cents above the minimum allowable bid, the cap-and-trade program said on its website today. Each permit in the carbon trading program for power plants from Maryland to Maine represents one ton of carbon dioxide.

Why are prices so low? On the one hand, people have doubts about Congress creating a national market for them. Fair enough. But on the other hand, “Tim Cheung, an analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance said: “Demand for power hasn’t increased with the economic recovery…”

Since people aren’t buying as much electricity there are spare “permits to pollute” all over the place. But it begs the question of what kind of economic recovery it is, if it doesn’t need … power?

Can I sell you some air over China?

Meanwhile some NGOs are waking up to the scammability of permits for invisible unverifiable goods. CDMWatch was set up by a group of NGO’s and has found the firms that sell the [...]