Brady F. Anderson

Super Freakonomics

A fun read. The chapters on the economics of prostitution and unconventional climate strategy stayed with me the most.

My Notes

“The average American walk about a half-mile a day outside the home or workplace” (3) – that made me so sad

Cars were hailed as environmental saviors when initially released because they helped eliminate the massive amount of manure horses leave on streets

In the early 1900s, one brothel in Chicago paid their workers $430,000 (in 2009 dollars) per year in addition to free healthcare, education, food, and board

“At least 20% of men born between 1933 and 1942 had their first sexual intercourse with a prostitute” (30)

Men used to pay double or triple for oral sex, and now it costs less than half the price of intercourse. Oral used to be more taboo and commanded a premium because of that.

Paying with drugs, performing sex outdoors, and using a condom can get you a discount from $2-$7

“A Chicago prostitute is more likely to have sex with a cop than be arrested by one” (41)

Prostitute demand spikes during holidays, usually due to visiting family members

The importance of fast internet: Cognitive drift can occur just by waiting more than 1 second for a window to load, and your brain can entirely lose track of what it’s doing if it takes 10 seconds. Dubner and Levitt use this in the context of medical errors, but I experience this almost constantly while working remotely

The best doctors in a hospital don’t spend any more than lesser doctors

Hospital staff still disinfect their hands in fewer than half of the instances they should.

Violet and property crimes quadrupled between 1950 and 1970

Singapore has a law that legally requires children to visit and support their parents

Car seats by and large are not safer than a standard seatbelt after age 2. They only serve to give us a misplaced sense of security and prevent us from looking for better solutions.

Scientists are trying to fix enteric fermentation in cows (a major source of methanol, a greenhouse gas) by transplanting kangaroo digestive bacteria

Water is the most abundant greenhouse gas, and climate models don’t know how to handle it

Fortunately, atmospheric carbon dioxide has diminishing returns. Each ton added to the air has less radiative impact than the previous one.

An increase in carbon dioxide isn’t all bad. With more carbon dioxide, plants need less water to grow. Most commercial greenhouses have supplemental carbon dioxide in their air.

Rising water levels aren’t primarily driven by ice caps melts, rather it caused mostly by the thermal expansion of water as the atmosphere heats up

A large amount of methane released from permafrost could cause a breakdown in the Gulf Stream

High latitude areas are 4X more sensitive to climate change than the equator.

A potential solution to reduce global warming is to pump sulfur dioxide at high altitudes in polar regions. We would only need to pump .05% of the yearly sulfur dioxide added to the atmosphere by natural and man-made sources if we did it at a sufficient height where it would have the greatest impact. And! It wouldn’t cost all that much ~$250 million (think about how much we already spend to fight climate change). We still need to decarbonize, but this provides a pretty viable backup in case we fail.

Clouds, even man-made ones, provide a cooling effect. In the wake of 9/11, with no contrails in the sky, surface temperatures rose nearly 2˚F

“It’s illogical to believe in a carbon-induced warming apocalypse and believe that such an apocalypse can be averted simply by curtailing new carbon emissions.” (203)