Archives for SuperFreakonomics

Good Climate News: The “Methane Time Bomb” Apparently Isn’t

“At least one nightmare scenario can be safely crossed off worst-case climate list,” Andy Revkin writes by e-mail. “Even with intense ocean warming through this millennium, thawing won’t reach the big subsea methane deposits. There were ample signs this was overblown but new work goes farther.”

He has the full story on his Dot Earth blog:

Given that methane, molecule for molecule, has at least 20 times the heat-trapping properties of carbon dioxide, it’s important to get a handle on whether these are new releases, the first foretaste of some great outburst from thawing sea-bed stores of the gas, or simply a longstanding phenomenon newly observed.

If you read the Independent of Britain, you’d certainly be thinking the worst. The newspaper has led the charge in fomenting worry over the gas emissions, with portentous, and remarkably similar, stories in 2008 and this week.

If you read geophysical journals and survey scientists tracking past and future methane emissions, you get an entirely different picture. …:

[T]he authors found that roughly 1 meter of the subsurface permafrost thawed in the past 25 years, adding to the 25 meters of already thawed soil. Forecasting the expected future permafrost thaw, the authors found that even under the most extreme climatic scenario tested this thawed soil growth will not exceed 10 meters by 2100 or 50 meters by the turn of the next millennium. The authors note that the bulk of the methane stores in the east Siberian shelf are trapped roughly 200 meters below the seafloor… [Read the rest.]

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Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Laureate and Author of Thinking, Fast and Slow Takes Your Questions

One of the first times I met Danny Kahneman was over dinner, just after SuperFreakonomics was published. Shortly after we were introduced, Danny said, “I enjoyed your new book. It will change the future of the world.” I beamed with pride at this compliment. Danny, however, was not done speaking. “It will change the future of the world. And not for the better.” While I’m sure many people would agree with his last sentence, he was the only person who ever said it to my face!

If you don’t know the name, Danny Kahneman is the non-economist who has had the greatest influence on economics of any non-economist who ever lived. A psychologist, he’s the only non-economist to win the Nobel Prize in Economics, for his pioneering work in behavioral economics. I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that he is among the 50 most influential economic thinkers of all time, and among the ten most influential living economic thinkers. Read More »

The Silver Lining of More Cancer Deaths

A National Post graphic does a good job showing causes of death across Canada by percentage, and notes that, for the first time, cancer is the leading cause in every province, responsible for about 30 percent of all deaths. That is a heartbreaking number, not least because cancer is a disease (or set of diseases, really) about which so much is still unknown.

As we wrote in a section of SuperFreakonomics called “We’re still getting our butts kicked by cancer,” seeing cancer statistics like this might naturally lead one to conclude that the “war on cancer” has been a dismal failure. That, however, would be an overstatement. While it’s true that we are, as one oncologist told us, “still getting our butts kicked,” there is somewhat of a silver lining in the cancer death rate. Read More »

Finally: A Garden Hose to the Sky

Well, it’s actually happening. An idea reported on extensively in SuperFreakonomics has come to fruition, and some mad scientists are getting their way (and a little government funding) to build a garden hose to the sky – and save the world by cooling it down.

A team of British researchers called SPICE (Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering), is attempting to pump particles of water into the atmosphere as a test run before moving onto sulfates and aerosols that would reflect sunlight away from earth, mimicking a volcano effect. SPICE is building the garden hose at an undisclosed location, with £1.6 million in UK government funding and the backing of the Royal Society. Read More »

SuperFreakonomics Back on the Times Best-Seller List

We just got word that the new paperback edition of SuperFreakonomics will land on the 6/12 New York Times best-seller list. Freakonomics is still on the list too (88 weeks on paperback list after >100 on hardcover), and it’ll be fun to see if baby brother can hang in as long as the original. Thanks to all for reading!

A SuperFreakonomics Contest: Underappreciated Complements?

Iced tea and lemonade are hardly perfect complements — they can each be happily consumed individually — but more and more I see them being served together. I have always known this combo as an “Arnold Palmer”; increasingly, however, as in this ad at the New York chain drugstore Duane Reade, it is known simply as “half-iced tea, half-lemonade.”

I like an Arnold Palmer just fine, but to my taste the best combo drink of all time is a cranberry juice and Fresca. What? You’ve never tried it?! Thank me later.

This has gotten me thinking about other wonderful complements in life. Surely many of them are in the realm of food and drink. But there’s also driving a convertible in cold weather with the heat on, e.g.

What are some of your favorite — especially underappreciated — complements? Tell us in the comments section and we’ll take five of the best and vote for the favorite. Winner gets a free copy of new SuperFreakonomics paperback.

Another Chance to Win a Free Copy of SuperFreakonomics

Yesterday, we ran a contest to give away five copies of the new paperback edition of SuperFreakonomics (which can be bought on Amazon and elsewhere). There were more than 640 entries! Thanks for all the support, and for betraying your thirst for free stuff.

So let’s have another contest right now. Last week, when we asked the best way to give away books, your second preference was “really hard contests on blog.” Okay then. But instead of having a quiz here on the blog, we’ve put it on our new Facebook page. So go ahead and “like” our page (if indeed you like it), and try your hand at the quiz. We’ll send a free SuperFreakonomics paperback to the first five people who receive perfect scores. (The tricky part is that you’ll do much better on the quiz if you’ve read the book but hey, the world’s not perfect is it?) Good luck!

Announcing the Winners of the SuperFreakonomics Paperback Giveaway

Yesterday, the paperback edition of SuperFreakonomics was published in the U.S. (only $10.54 at Amazon!). And we used a random-ish contest to give away five copies. If I had known there would be so many respondents — more than 600 as of this writing — I would have had the winning comments correspond to higher values! Anyway: thanks to all for playing, and congratulations to the winners, who are:

Michael Mehrotra: comment No. 9, which corresponds to the episode number of our “Power of Poop” podcast.

Paulius Ambrazevicius: comment No. 10, which corresponds to our publisher’s street address.

Wade P.: comment No. 22, which corresponds to Hungary’s suicide rate (per 100,000).

“Power Pooper” (do we sense a theme here?): comment No. 32, which corresponds to the jersey number of my favorite football player, Franco Harris.

Pat Long: comment No. 43, which corresponds to Steve Levitt‘s age (at least for another few days).

Note: we counted the order of original comments, not replies, so as not to skew results.

Also: this was fun. We should do it again sometime soon, yeah?