James Barrett

James Barrett is Chief Economist at the Clean Economy Development Center

Renewable Energy

Can the Keynes notion of ‘spontaneous optimism’ help U.S. investments in clean energy?

This post originally appeared on the Great Energy Challenge blog, in partnership with National Geographic and Planet Forward.  John Maynard Keynes, a giant in modern economic theory, famously wrote, “Most, probably, of our decisions to do something positive, the full consequences of which will be drawn out over many days to come, can only be taken as the result of animal spirits.” This notion, laid out in his seminal book, The General Theory of Employment Interest and Money, was meant to push back on the notion that people behave in an purely economically rational manner, that many of our decisions …

Snake oil

Drilling down on oil

It may be true, but domestic oil drilling won’t help.This post originally appeared on the Great Energy Challenge blog, in partnership with National Geographic and Planet Forward.  It’s an unfortunate fact that stress has a way of making people crazy. At the moment, rising oil prices are creating a lot of stress. One of the problems with our deep dependence on oil is that oil prices can (and do) swing wildly in relatively short periods of time. Between January 2007 and July 2008, the average price of crude oil paid by U.S. refineries went from about $51 to $129 per …

Life is hard, and then you subsidize

What Obama should know about ending oil subsidies

This post originally appeared on the Great Energy Challenge blog, in partnership with National Geographic and Planet Forward.  Despite my seriously mixed feelings about the State of the Union speeches, I tuned in to this year’s speech for the first time in several years. Like many, I was disappointed if not surprised that President Obama didn’t mention climate change even once. Climate policy is hard sell in a down economy. I hope Mother Nature understands. Less disappointing, and less surprising, is that he called for the economy to reduce our oil consumption. I’m sorry to be unimpressed, but when a …