Stories tagged capitalism


Money: it's a hit: Give the banker his props: rich societies pollute less and emit less carbon (per unit of energy used) than poorer societies.
Money: it's a hit: Give the banker his props: rich societies pollute less and emit less carbon (per unit of energy used) than poorer societies.Courtesy Steve Wampler

We’ve talked before about how rich cities also tend to be clean cities. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, people in subsistence situations tend to scrabble for mere survival, without much regard to any other issues. Only after securing basic life necessities can they focus attention on externalities, such as the environment.

Now comes word that there is something of a linear progression going on:
the richer you are, the greener you are.

As their wealth grows, people consume more energy, but they move to more efficient and cleaner sources — from wood to coal and oil, and then to natural gas and nuclear power, progressively emitting less carbon per unit of energy. This global decarbonization trend has been proceeding at a remarkably steady rate since 1850, according to Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University and Paul Waggoner of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.

The professors argue: “If the energy system is left to its own devices, most of the carbon will be out of it by 2060 or 2070.” All thanks to the free-market system, and the wealth that it brings to us all.

Money…it’s greener than you think!


A mastodon: Hey! Hey! Quit looking at its nipple teeth!
A mastodon: Hey! Hey! Quit looking at its nipple teeth!Courtesy wikimedia commons
Whether you’re the last kid on the block without your own mastodon skeleton, or if the old mastodon skeleton you already have is starting to look a little threadbare, I have some exciting news for you: a California woman plans to auction off a mastodon skeleton on eBay. Bids will start at $115,000.

Mastodons are, for the willfully ignorant among you, hairy, extinct elephant relatives that went extinct about 10,000 years ago, near the end of the last ice age.

I like to think of them as the poor man’s wooly mammoths.

While outwardly similar to mammoths in some respects, mastodons were a distinct species, and only distantly related to their larger cousins. Mastodons had straighter tusks, larger, flatter skulls, and while mammoths were grazers (eating low-growing plants like grasses) mastodons were browsers (eating higher growing plants, like leaves, shoots, and fruit). The difference in diet is obvious when comparing the teeth of mammoths and mastodons—mammoths have low, rippling molar surfaces, where mastodons’ molars are high crowned. In fact, “mastodon” means “nipple tooth,” which is, of course, the most striking difference from the cooler-named wooly mammoth.

Wait, what was this post about again? Oh, yeah, eBay.

The mastodon to be auctioned was found on the woman’s northeastern California ranch, an entirely intact skeleton except for a pair of missing tusks. After excavation, the skeleton made a tour of the Oakland Museum of Natural History, a wine bar, and finally a garage. And now the woman’s son wants to use the garage to work on his hotrod, so the skeleton has got to go.

Some paleontologists are doubtful that the skeleton will fetch the asking price, and would prefer to see it donated to a museum. Figures—those greedy paleontologists.