Sunday, May 10, 2009

Question for Howard Kurtz about George Will; and critiquing Elizabeth Kolbert

I sent this question below to Howard Kurtz's Q&A at the Washington Post about George Will's swill:

So George Will is inventing facts again - sorry, he's presumably repeating an unsourced assertion from an email blast or hack website somewhere. This time it's that Toyota is either losing money or not profiting from the wildly successful Prius (he changed his storyline from day to day). Actual experts disagree:
When is enough, enough?

We'll see if Kurtz responds. (UPDATE: nope, didn't publish or respond to the question.)

Another issue: I'm listening to the New Yorker Political Scene Podcast, with the latest one interviewing Elizabeth Kolbert. She's supposed to have done excellent climate reporting, but made two mistakes in the May 7 podcast. First, she said it was a huge flaw in that the Waxman cap-and-trade legislation fails to estimate revenue generation from selling carbon allocations. She conflated this issue with the necessity that allocations cost something. The whole point of cap-and-trade is not to establish a price but to establish a limit.

The second, maybe less-clear mistake was saying that renewable energy stimulus monies wouldn't accomplish anything if the fossil fuel suppliers just switch to different customers from the ones who now are buying renewables. She misses the point of marginal change in demand - if the total demand for fossil fuel is reduced because some of the buyers now want renewables, the price that fossil fuel suppliers can charge will also have to drop. Total fossil fuel production would then drop because the most expensive suppliers can't compete anymore.

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