Chasing Rainbows looks at what the commonly held beliefs are about what we should do to avoid, curtail or adapt to global warming and compares them to what we should actually be doing. This is not an argument about the science: Worstall leaves that entirely to others to debate. Rather, what guides and indications can we get from the economics already embedded in such things as the IPCC reports and the Stern Review. The answers will shock some: globalisation is part of the cure for climate change. Recycling of some things certainly saves resources but of domestic waste actually wastes them. Creating green jobs is not a benefit but a cost of our actions. Drawing on the official reports that most agree is the scientific consensus and adding insights from economic theory, Worstall is able to show that much of what we're told we should do to save the planet is in fact wrong, diametrically opposed in many cases to what we should really be doing. It's not only desirable to have a cleaner, greener, richer world, it's also possible, and Worstall lays out what we need to do to achieve this. The 'Bishop Hill' blog recommended that this book 'should probably be gifted to every teenager as they leave the school system', while 'Stumbling and Mumbling' wrote that '...there are some brilliant flourishes. His idiot cousin metaphor for comparative advantage verges on the genius.'
I'm a businessman working in the field of weird and rare metals and many of my customers are in the renewable energy business: it's the weird and rare metals that make so many of the different renewables technologies work. This gives me a slightly different view of the whole marketplace. I tend to see quite a lot of information, technical information, about technologies that aren't quite ready for prime time as yet for example.
I'm also a freelance writer specialising in politics, economics and matters environmental. A consistent theme is that yes, we do indeed have environmental problems, up to and including climate change, but that doesn't mean that we should necessarily swallow all the policy recommendations of anyone who calls themselves an environmentalist.
For economics is, at least in part, the study of the incentives people face and how they change their behaviour in the face of those incentives. Thus, if we want to change peoples' behaviour (which I think we do) then we'd better go and study the economics of how to change incentives so as to change that behaviour.
The book Chasing Rainbows is mostly (apart from a few jokes, some side stories, some insults and a proof that domestic recycling doesn't actually save resources) about exploring that issue. I accept that climate change is happening (although you don't in order understand the argument) and that we must do something about it (ditto). But if we look at the economists who have studied exactly this question, what should we do now, we find that just about everything the green movement tells us we must do is wrong.
A reasonable taste of my writing and my views can be found on my blog, www.timworstall.com