Monday Message Board

Back again with another Monday Message Board.

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please. If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin, at my Facebook public page   and at my Economics in Two Lessons page

17 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Love music? Environmental & surveillance privacy and emotional damage. No economic damage noted as we dont bother pricing it. JQ?

    Article, paper and book re “The environmental cost of music is now greater than at any time during recorded music’s previous eras.”^1.

    Do not read this as “the very qualities of music that people put to work in shaping their everyday lives and regulating their emotional lives are increasingly turned against [you].”^2.


    New Yorker Article:
    “The Hidden Costs of Streaming Music

    …” Devine writes, “The environmental cost of music is now greater than at any time during recorded music’s previous eras.” He supports that claim with a chart of his own devising, using data culled from various sources, which suggests that, in 2016, streaming and downloading music generated around a hundred and ninety-four million kilograms of greenhouse-gas emissions—some forty million more than the emissions associated with all music formats in 2000. Given the unprecedented reliance on streaming media during the coronavirus pandemic, the figure for 2020 will probably be even greater. ”

    ^1. Main Paper
    Decomposed: a political ecology of music
    Kyle Devine

    … “These materials constitute the five most prevalent recording formats since 1900: 78s, LPs, cassettes, CDs and MP3s. The goal is to forge a political ecology of the evolving relationship between popular music and sound technology, which accounts not only for human production and consumption but also material manufacture and disposal. Such an orientation is useful for developing an analytical framework that is adequate to the complexities of the global material–cultural flows in which the recorded music commodity is constituted and deconstituted. It also strives towards a more responsible way of thinking about the relationship between popular music’s cultural and economic value, on the one hand, and its environmental cost, on the other.”

    ^2. Paper
    “Music as a Technology of Surveillance 

    By Eric Drot

    “What kind of media files Spotify will collect from you is vague”, wrote one journalist, and “why the company needs itis unclear, but its doing it regardless”.

    ” … In seeking to quell the furor, company spokespersons sought to assure users that such aggressive gathering of data served but one purpose: the platform’s ongoing improvement. “Spotify is constantly innovating and evolving its service” read one press release, noting that “the data accessed simply helps us to tailor improved experiences to our users, and build new and personalized products for the future”.

    The language of the privacy policy, however, pointed to a different rationale. Significantly, Spotify reserved the right to transmit the data it gathered to various third parties, including its so called “advertising partners.”. As one clause explained, such data would allow marketers to “show you more tailored content, including relevant advertising for products and services that might be of interest to you.”

    “Provisions like these make clear that it was not just music delivery that was being customized. Also gaining access to users personal information were other unspecified third parties, euphemistically referred to as “trusted business partners”. Why Spotify trusted these business partners and why users should do likewise went unexplained.”

    “If it is true that music’s capacity to both permeate and envelope the listener is no small part of the pleasure or utility it provides, it is no less true that these same qualities cast it as a potent means of knowing the listener, both inside and out. 

    In this way the very qualities of music that people put to work in shaping their everyday lives and regulating their emotional lives are increasingly turned against them. 

    What makes music so powerful a technology of the self, as Tia De Nora and others have posited, is also what allows streaming platforms to repurpose it as an equally powerful technology of surveillance.”


    Decomposed is a superbly lucid study that places recording in the broad human history of industrialization, globalization, resource extraction, labor exploitation, and ecological damage, debunking ideas of music’s inherent goodness or intangibility. An immensely rigorous and compelling study, an absolute must-read, this book paves the way for a new ethics of music consumption.”
    ― Anna Morcom, Mohindar Brar Sambhi Chair of Indian Music, University of California, Los Angeles

    About the Author
    Kyle Devine is Head of Research and Associate Professor in the Department of Musicology at the University of Oslo.

  2. I enjoy reading your thoughts on everything you send me. I know very little about economics, but always interested reading everything. Only like to sing ,write songs and paint native plants. Hope you can find time to sing. My music club out of action at the moment. Don’t know when ‘Wisefolk’ will get back, maybe next year. All the best to you, Sonia Bennett.

  3. A question for commenters. What should we think of these recently announced policy targets:
    China – net zero CO2 emissions by 2060
    California – all commercial trucks and vans to be zero-emission by 2045
    Poland – coal mines to close by 2049.
    These are very soft targets indeed. For the sake of argument, let’s stipulate that hey require no policy action at all, and are essentially virtue signals. Should we discard them as completely worthless?

    One approach to this question is “compared to what”. If the point of comparison is a challenging target, then yes, the soggy one is worthless. If the point of comparison is “nothing”, the softest target is better. At least, since outcomes are a risk distribution, there is a non-zero chance the soft target will indeed require some action. But since both frames are equally valid logically, there does not seem to be a single answer.

    Another line is the slippery slope. Will the new framing grease the skids and lead to more demanding targets and effective policies, or not? The answer depends on context and the other forces in play. Is the technology menu changing? Is public opinion? Is elite financial opinion? In Poland’s case, add in growing pressures from the EU. On emissions, the answer is clearly that that things are shifting in a green direction, so the slope is indeed slippery. Ergo, in these particular cases the soft targets should on balance be welcomed – and used as a springboard for demanding more.

    A striking example is the gossamer-thin commitment in the Paris Agreement ”to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century” (article 4.1). This has imperceptibly hardened into the EU’s net zero by 2050, and China’s by 2060. Others will follow.

  4. ” Is the technology menu changing?”
    Recent announcements regarding cars for the long run look like a shift towards technological optimism to me. Basically it’s a non goal based on current battery cost projections and people like Söder will eat those goals the second it looks like they will be any effort. No coal mines by 2049 is a non goal based on current technology already.

  5. Hi James, I couldn’t tell if this failed to post, or if it is being moderated – so I am putting it up again. Apologies if that is obnoxious!

    Hi James, a SameFacts person here. I hope all is well!! I have a question – do you remember that website discussed there which was aimed at climate change skeptics? I thought it was helpful and can’t remember it.

    As to your question, I think we may be asking the wrong question. I think we might want to focus more on lowering barriers to action. Why are there not solar panels on every building I see? I don’t think it’s because people don’t care, I think it’s because they are paralyzed by indecision/uncertainty, lack of funds or both. And maybe other things I haven’t thought of. Same with the cars. So to me the soft targets seem irrelevant. (I could also whine a lot about how we in Cali are pouring money into a HSR system which won’t ever really work or be fast, while increasing burdens on truck drivers, etc. These pronouncements may just create backlash.) The psychological issues seem to me to be urgent. I am deep in this problem myself … when I get a spare moment to think about the issue. If I can get past the panic and fear, that is, *then* I get to the fog of uncertainty. And then, nothing at all changes. Maybe this all is an argument for a carbon tax with the dividend thing.

    I could shorten this but I am late back to work. Too many words…

  6. Glimmers of hope department
    A report at Climate Home on a dreadful do-nothing statement from the G20 meeting of energy ministers, chaired by Saudi Arabia, includes this:
    “At G20 meetings on agriculture and the environment, ministers failed to agree a joint statement due to similar divides over climate change.”
    Diplomats are strongly biased towards “agree something”. It looks as if this mindset is breaking down in the G20 in the face of reality.

    It’s insufficiently appreciated that the Westphalian rule of consensus is much weaker than it looks. One holdout, say Liechtenstein, can block adoption of a treaty or statement in a conference of 100 countries, sure. But nothing stops the other 99 from reconvening in the next room and adopting what they all agree on. In practice Liechtenstein caves. In the G20, the Saudis are on notice. Next time they won’t have American cover.

  7. “US President Donald Trump tests positive for coronavirus, First Lady also positive” – ABC News.

    Shout out to President Trump! Instant Karma’s Gonna Get You!

  8. Who says? Why not staged? It’d be a good cover for a couple weeks to duck further debates. Makes him one of them, the people, and a sympathy vote…

  9. Very true, Svante. It’s impossible to know the truth from afar when the master of fake everything is involved. The worst outcome has already been canvassed in the media. He remains non-symptomatic (apart from the actual test result), gets over it like it’s nothing and says, “See, it’s nothing.” Bizarrely, that alone would probably win him the election in Planet USA.

  10. My money is on this being just another Trump Stunt.

    The evidence of infection lies with Trump, not his doctor, and Trump is well known as a fabricator.

    Trump followers should list his achievements here;


  11. Recovery from covid, even if it you do not need hospitalization (average risk 20%, higher for Trump from age and obesity; death say 5%), often takes a long time. Trump’s in-person campaign is over.

    Solar anecdatum: “Huanghe Hydropower Development has connected a 2.2 GW solar plant to the grid in the desert in China’s remote Qinghai province.” Took them 10 months to build. Yes, State Grid is putting up an HVDC power line.

  12. Even if Trump comes through without even suffering a mild cough plenty of damage has been done to his campaign. So much I’m starting to feel safe from being nuked when he gets angry at Austria.

    But the odds of getting off lightly aren’t very high.

  13. NCG: Are you thinking of Skeptical Science, which lists denialist stock arguments and provides their refutations? has passed on as an active blog, though the archive is still up. After Mark Kleiman’s untimely death in May 2019, the motley crew he’d roped in as co-bloggers kept it going for a while, but there wasn’t enough regular writing nor the common thread he had provided, so we agreed to wind it up. I’m proud to have worked with him and (overall) of my own 788 posts.

  14. Hi James! Thanks so much! I don’t know for sure if that’s the same one, it may look different, but it looks like *exactly* what I need. A friend of mine was telling me about her denier friends and how painful it was to argue with them, and I remembered that it existed.

    I do think that when possible within bounds of civility – and maybe even with occasional pointedness – it is best to engage. Unfortunately I don’t know the science that well myself (other than what I observe), so I need the help. I am grateful somebody already did all that work.

    I still miss seeing you on SameFacts, and Mark. It was much too soon.

    I like this site too, although I seem to understand less of what goes on here. Not just because it is Australian, but also it seems quantier. It’s probably good for my brain.

    Keep hope alive. ; )

  15. I just heard a report on the radio to the effect that now the President’s staff are wearing masks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s