Graphite to Newcastle — Shangri-la 4

by dm00

Kuniko (from the <i>Shangri-la</i> novel disapproves of fanboy-science

Kuniko (from the Shangri-la novel) disapproves of fanboy-science

Someday, someone will make science fiction in which economics is the science.  I don’t think this is that day.

In episode four Kuniko decides to sell part of Metal Age’s horde of pre-carbon-market graphite to finance an uprising against Atlas.

How can this make sense?  A market in carbon-credits implemented to meliorate CO2 emissions does not make carbon valuable in itself.  The point of Shangri-La‘s carbon-credit market is to encourage a move to carbon neutrality (or better: net removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere by making such removal pay).  Europe, which is already pretty efficient, has to spend quite a lot to become yet more efficient.  That same money spent in China can remove much more CO2 than it would in Europe.  So Europe buys carbon offsets from China, and China uses the money to build cleaner power-plants.  Or maybe the United States pays Brazil to reforest part of the Amazon, pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere that the US can then exhale.

Where does graphite come into this?  Graphite is nearly pure carbon.  Graphite in itself isn’t particularly valuable (it’s useful in a number of industrial processes).  But if you had a process that sucked CO2 out of the atmosphere and turned it into graphite+oxygen, you’d use the graphite as proof that you’d earned your carbon credits.  So it’s possible that a black-market in graphite might exist for unscrupulous carbon-sequesterers to claim to have sequestered more CO2 than they actually had, which, in turn, lets them spew more CO2 in various industrial processes, which processes have economic value.

Or that’s one possible explanation.  And I guess I want an explanation because I’m enjoying Shangri-la despite my better judgment.

Really, I enjoyed episode four of Shangri-la rather a lot,  despite all the stupid.  The visit to the aging otaku in Neo-Akihabara was a lot of fun.  It reminded me a bit of the Betamax episode of Cowboy Bebop, but mostly it was cartoony fun. The cartooniness reflected the context — the style of that part of the episode reflected its subject-matter.  Yes, the otaku were annoying, but that comes with the territory, and they were annoying in slightly off-the-wall ways, which counts for a lot.  And Momoko is delightfully transgressive — a wonderful twist on the macho bodyguard.  The show is repetitive (did you know that Momoko is a transvestite?  wait a few seconds and she’ll tell you), but it keeps coming up with nice little twists that keep this jaded viewer bemused, if not actually amused (Sorakake Girl does this as well, but it does it much better).

Karin gets a little more human and shows a bit of sympathy for poor Medusa.

Something tells me that Mi-ko’s presence is going to be very important to Mikuni.

I’m afraid I’m finding the dwellers in Atlas rather boringly decadent.  I harbor a secret hope that Atlas is built from carbon nanotube fibers, with the carbon sucked out of the atmosphere, so the structure is actually growing.

Carbon nanotube fibers bonded with the blood of Mikuni’s rejected attendants.

Sweet little construction supplier.

Sweet little construction-materials supplier.

4 Responses to “Graphite to Newcastle — Shangri-la 4”


  1. 1 fangzhao April 29, 2009 at 3:25 am

    Or maybe there’s a way to turn graphite into carbon dioxide so you can bankrupt other countries with a bunch of graphite!

  2. 2 21stcenturydigitalboy April 29, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    So wait, Murata designed the anime but the manga looks like Eureka Seven? I mean, I thought that was a Talho crossover at first.

  3. 3 dm00 April 29, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    @fangzhao> I suppose you could smuggle it in and burn it.

    @21CDB> Novel, not manga. Yes, the novel is illustrated by the character designer for Eureka 7, Ken’ichi Yoshida. More illustrations here

  4. 4 Snark April 30, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    Having a grasp of economics no greater then a single 101 course in uni, all misapplications of economic theory in the show go completely unnoticed. A fact which I am thankful for in this instance.


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