Sandy and broken windows

Preparing for disaster may have "economic benefits". But it doesn't have real benefits.

Slate's Matt Yglesias makes a very important point with regard to the economic benefits of adapting to climate change:

The basic issue is the same as the one where jobs installing iron gates on windows and alarm systems in houses are economic activity just like jobs installing refrigerators and AV systems. Living in fear of crime is annoying all on its own, and needing to expend real resources on private crime-mitigation efforts rather than improving your quality of life is annoying, but as far as "the economy" is concerned a job is a job and a sale is a sale. Much the same is true for a wealthy society's response to adverse weather shocks.

Of course, the same can be said, to a certain extent, for the economics of fighting climate change. While environmentalists are right to trumpet the economic benefit of putting huge amounts of effort into efforts to decarbonise the economy, some of those benefits may follow a similar sort of logic to that described above. If there is no intrinsic advantage to wind farms over gas power stations other than ameliorating climate change, then decarbonising the economy may "boost GDP", but it is still using real resources on something which will have no effect on quality of life.

Except, of course, if it succeeds in preventing climate change.

Coincidentally, the comic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal made the same point today in a rather different manner. And it's all really just a rephrasing of Bastiat's 1850 elaboration of the broken window fallacy. But still worth a mention.

A panel from today's Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. Image: www.smbc-comics.com

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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#heterosexualprideday happened, and it’s rather depressing

It may have been a publicity stunt – but some of the responses are still worrying.

Waking up to the news Michael Gove would be running for the Tory premiership, I thought my daily share of bad news was out the way. Seeing "Heterosexual Pride Day" trending on Twitter made me think otherwise.

LGBT Pride Month in the United States is being celebrated throughout June, with many cities across the country celebrating pride events. Pride in London took place last weekend.

But the hashtag began in the US. This post, by @_JackNForTweets, appeared yesterday.

And despite the broad condemnation it elicited, some voiced their support of the hashtag.

The originator of the tweet later gloated about the furore it created.

Before firing off some more vitriol.

The timing, of course, is unsavoury. Not three weeks have passed since the deadly Orlando shooting – the worst in recent US history – in which 49 people were killed at an LGBT nightclub. In response to the attack, commemorative vigils were held around the world. 

Sensitivity to the specifically homophobic nature of the attack has been questioned within the media's coverage of the event. The day after the attack, Owen Jones walked out of Sky News interview.

Despite this, many have voiced their opposition to the hashtag.

Regardless of whether the hashtag was purely designed for clickbait, the more worrying thing is the traction of support it gained.