Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Ratcliffe: Europe "has green taxes that, at best, can be described as foolish as they are having the opposite effect to how they were intended"

INEOS's Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s Open Letter to the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Feb 2019,

Dear President Juncker,

“Are you quite mad?” was the reaction of one well known CEO of a European chemicals company when INEOS publicly announced recently its huge €3 billion petrochemicals expansion in Antwerp in January of this year.   The first of its kind for a generation.

Nobody but nobody in my business seriously invests in Europe.   They haven’t for a generation.   Everyone in my business does however invest in the USA, Middle East or China, or indeed, all three.   The USA is in the middle of a $200 billion spending spree on 333 new chemical plants.   China has spent that sum annually for many years, constructing its own chemical building blocks.

Europe, not so long ago the world leader in chemicals, has seen its market share in the last decade alone collapse from 30% world market share to 15%.   This is an industry that employs over 1 million people in high quality jobs in Europe and five times that in indirect jobs. Worldwide, chemicals is an immense industry, considerably bigger than the automotive sector with revenues approaching $4 trillion.

Europe is no longer competitive.   It has the worlds most expensive energy and labour laws that are uninviting for employers.   Worst of all, it has green taxes that, at best, can be described as foolish as they are having the opposite effect to how they were intended. 
Europe going it alone with green taxes prevents renewal as it frightens away investment into the open arms of the USA and China. It also pushes manufacturing to other parts of the world that care less for the environment. To get a sense of the importance of renewal a 70s car will emit 50 times the pollution of a modern day car. Chemical plants are not so different.
The USA is fully in the process of renewal.   Immense building programmes are installing the world’s finest chemical technology which has a fraction of the emissions we saw a generation ago.   Old units are being shut down.  The USA doesn’t have green taxes but it does insist on the very highest environmental standards before it issues permits for new builds.So let’s step back.  Europe remains with an industry built one or two generations ago with old environmental standards and has frightened away new investment for a generation with heavy green taxes.  America has welcomed new investment but on condition that it has the highest possible environmental standards.  It has created investment, new jobs and improved environmental emissions.  Europe has done the opposite on all fronts. I know who looks smarter.

I have an intense interest in preserving the environment.   I see wildlife being slaughtered in Africa, forests burning all over the world, fish stocks being decimated and I fully believe that we must arrest global warming.

But Europe ‘going it alone’ with green taxes as its main strategy has got it wrong.

As for the question posed to me at the outset, “Are we mad?”, the answer is no.   INEOS is uniquely able to import huge quantities of cheap energy and feedstocks from the USA and we have no ‘market risk’ as all the product that we will produce will be consumed by our own INEOS businesses in Europe.

But don’t expect others to follow.   They will be welcomed by the USA and China with a warm smile and a good strategy.

Europe, reminds me somewhat of the Charge of the Light Brigade, immortalised in Tennyson’s wonderful poem, full of valour and good intention but the outcome will not be pretty.

Yours Sincerely

Violent video game engagement is not associated with adolescents' aggressive behaviour: No evidence for a critical tipping point relating violent game engagement to aggressive behaviour

Violent video game engagement is not associated with adolescents' aggressive behaviour: evidence from a registered report. Andrew K. Przybylski and Netta Weinstein. Royal Society Open Science, Volume 6, Issue 2.

Abstract: In this study, we investigated the extent to which adolescents who spend time playing violent video games exhibit higher levels of aggressive behaviour when compared with those who do not. A large sample of British adolescent participants (n = 1004) aged 14 and 15 years and an equal number of their carers were interviewed. Young people provided reports of their recent gaming experiences. Further, the violent contents of these games were coded using official EU and US ratings, and carers provided evaluations of their adolescents' aggressive behaviours in the past month. Following a preregistered analysis plan, multiple regression analyses tested the hypothesis that recent violent game play is linearly and positively related to carer assessments of aggressive behaviour. Results did not support this prediction, nor did they support the idea that the relationship between these factors follows a nonlinear parabolic function. There was no evidence for a critical tipping point relating violent game engagement to aggressive behaviour. Sensitivity and exploratory analyses indicated these null effects extended across multiple operationalizations of violent game engagement and when the focus was on another behavioural outcome, namely, prosocial behaviour. The discussion presents an interpretation of this pattern of effects in terms of both the ongoing scientific and policy debates around violent video games, and emerging standards for robust evidence-based policy concerning young people's technology use.

Do Americans consider polling results an objective source of information? They view polls as more credible when majority opinion matched their opinion

All the Best Polls Agree with Me: Bias in Evaluations of Political Polling. Gabriel J. Madson. D. Sunshine Hillygus. Political Behavior,

Abstract: Do Americans consider polling results an objective source of information? Experts tend to evaluate the credibility of polls based on the survey methods used, vendor track record, and data transparency, but it is unclear if the public does the same. In two different experimental studies—one focusing on candidate evaluations in the 2016 U.S. election and one on a policy issue—we find a significant factor in respondent assessments of polling credibility to be the poll results themselves. Respondents viewed polls as more credible when majority opinion matched their opinion. Moreover, we find evidence of attitude polarization after viewing polling results, suggesting motivated reasoning in the evaluations of political polls. These findings indicate that evaluations of polls are biased by motivated reasoning and suggest that such biases could constrain the possible impact of polls on political decision making.

Keywords: Polling Poll evaluation Public opinion Motivated reasoning Cognitive bias

Sex Differences in Human Olfaction: A Meta-Analysis

Sex Differences in Human Olfaction: A Meta-Analysis. Piotr Sorokowski, Maciej Karwowski, MichaƂ Misiak, Michalina Konstancja Marczak, Martyna Dziekan, Thomas Hummel and Agnieszka Sorokowska. Front. Psychol., 13 February 2019.

Although the view that women's olfactory abilities outperform men's is taken for granted, some studies involving large samples suggested that male and female olfactory abilities are actually similar. To address this discrepancy, we conducted a meta-analysis of existing studies on olfaction, targeting possible sex differences. The analyzed sample comprised n = 8 848 (5 065 women and 3 783 men) for olfactory threshold (as measured with the Sniffin Sticks Test; SST), n = 8 067 (4 496 women and 3 571 men) for discrimination (SST), n = 13 670 (7 501 women and 6 169 men) for identification (SST), and a total sample of n = 7 154 (3 866 women and 3 288 men) for works using University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT). We conducted separate meta-analyses for each aspect of olfaction: identification, discrimination and threshold. The results of our meta-analysis indicate that women generally outperform men in olfactory abilities. What is more, they do so in every aspect of olfaction analyzed in the current study. However, the effect sizes were weak and ranged between g = 0.08 and g = 0.30. We discuss our findings in the context of factors that potentially shape sex differences in olfaction. Nevertheless, although our findings seem to confirm the “common knowledge” on female olfactory superiority, it needs to be emphasized that the effect sizes we observed were notably small.