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This article specifically focuses on how living in a world 4 degrees warmer than preindustrial temperatures, which they author claims could occur as early as the 2060s if mitigation does not happen soon enough, will affect developing countries. Although this warming is a global phenomenon and will impact many regions across the globe, developing countries will bear more of the costs, especially as they try to progress on their path to economic growth and development. This paper suggests that any attempts to mitigate the impacts of global warming and even adapt to new temperatures need to be global; global climate change is a negative externality that affects the entire world, not just a localized area. While, as Shelby points out, LDCs will need to participate in policy discussions, it will also be very important for developed countries to take the lead. Since most of the current level of carbon emissions was caused by the industrialization and growth of developed countries, we must recognize that any global policy would not be fair if it precluded LDCs from industrialization and growth. Instead, developed countries must be able to help LDCs implement growth strategies that are less carbon emission-heavy. Developed countries must also be willing to help LDCs adapt to the current effects of global climate change. If this cooperation occurs, policy aimed at preventing us from reaching a 4 degree world by the end of the century will be more effective, and LDCs will be more optimistic that these policies will not come at the expense of their own development.
Toggle Commented Nov 20, 2013 on ECON 280 Updated Syllabus at Jolly Green General
As others have mentioned, I found that this article was strongly related to Sen and Duflo's arguments about women's empowerment. Decisions about child labor are not made my the children themselves, but usually by the parents. Any household decision, as Udry points out, it not simply a collective decision, made with equal input from the husband and wife. Instead, as we have discussed in my Labor Econ class, household decisions are made largely on the basis of bargaining power: whoever has the most bargaining power in a household will have the largest impact on household decisions. Bargaining power is a function of income earned by that individual, so men typically have more bargaining power, particularly in developing countries. If women have more access to financing and are able to improve their prospects in the labor market, they will be responsible for a larger portion of household income, directly increasing their bargaining power. As Udry says, "extra income in the hands of mothers is associated with higher levels of investment in child human capital." This reinforces the argument that women's empowerment is an important goal, both because it is an important end itself, and because it will help improve the welfare of the entire household. Not only will the children in the household be positively impacted both by improved health and education in the present, but improved future outcomes that will eventually benefit future generations.
Toggle Commented Nov 7, 2013 on Corel Office Document at Jolly Green General
While reading this article, I was particularly struck by the indirect cost of malaria regarding mobility: as we read in "The Economic Lives of the Poor," one of the biggest obstacles that the poor face to economic prosperity is their lack of mobility. While Banerjee and Duflo's article points to community and family ties as the main reason why the poor do not change geographic locations to find work, the argument about malaria is even more compelling. The efficiency of markets assumes perfect mobility. If the poor cannot change locations to find a job where they are prevalent, they will be precluded from the few economic opportunities that exist. This problem of mobility is especially troublesome because there does not seem to be an easy fix. If individuals are afraid to travel to other regions in fear of losing immunity to the particular strain of malaria in their region or encountering a new strain, the costs of moving will always be too high. As Sachs and Malaney point out, the eradication of malaria in tropical environments is not a realistic goal. While the impacts of malaria can be diminished in a small number of specific areas, a large-scale fix that would improve many regions does not seem feasible. One possible solution to this problem is the improvement in information among the poor. If they were aware of which of the surrounding areas were prone to malaria and possible travel routes they could take to avoid the disease, mobility could improve.
This paper helps to explain why previous econometric evidence has not supported the hypothesis that external conditions, mainly interest rates in developed countries, impact international capital flows in developing countries. External interest rates do in fact have an impact on capital flows in addition to internal macroeconomic stability, which shows the importance of taking a comprehensive view of developing economies, rather than only looking at one aspect of an issue. I also thought this paper demonstrates the importance of random experiments that Esther Duflo discussed in the video clip we watched in class. Part of the reason that it is so hard to use regressions to depict the impact of a certain variable, ie. interest rates in the U.S., on another variable is that there is no "control" group in the real world. Since we have nothing to compare these time periods to, we can only try to isolate individual effects with a regression, which will obviously not be as reliable as a controlled experiment. However, this issue would be difficult to test as a controlled experiment on a microeconomic level because it is a macro issue. Therefore, the best we can do is try to specify a regression as accurately as possible, such as the regression performed by Eichengreen.
As others have said, I found Rodrick's argument about the importance of selective mixing of orthodox and unorthodox institutional reforms as appropriate to the current economic, political and social environment of a country to instigate and maintain growth particularly compelling. However, I also noticed that like any other recommendation for policy, Rodrick highlights the importance of not interpreting the paper's ideas in an extreme fashion. Rodrick highlights this point with the example of Argentina's experiment in the 1990's with a currency board. This example demonstrates that while unorthodox policy can often produce unprecedented positive impacts on an economy, it can also work against the current economic environment and cause more harm than good. Rodrick points out that "under better external circumstances, the credibility gained might have more than offset the disadvantages." While the failure of this policy itself would not have necessarily been detrimental to the Argentine economy, Argentina's reluctance to abandon the ineffective policy significantly damaged their real exchange rate. The example of Argentina also underscores Rodrick's argument that policies and institutional reforms that work for one developing nation may not function similarly in another developing nation. As we have learned so far throughout the semester, it is important to be mindful of the differences among developing countries and avoid over-generalization.
Toggle Commented Sep 26, 2013 on Growth Strategies - Econ 280 at Jolly Green General
As Krugman states at the very beginning of his paper, "this is not exactly a paper about Albert Hirschman." This unusual opening statement alerts the reader that this paper is not only not exactly about Hirschman, it is also not exactly about the validity of high development theory. To me, the most important insight of this paper was not whether or not the big push model accurately reflects reality, but the fact that no model will ever accurately reflect reality. As Krugman points out, in Economics or any science, all we have to work with (other than the real world itself) are models, and it is important in this class and any other economics class for us to always keep that in the back of our minds. While a model, like the big push, should not be dismissed because it is too simple or has unrealistic assumptions, it is always necessary to remember what those assumptions are when trying to translate the model into policy. As Professor Casey has said in class, most of these models were not created to advise public policy. They are useful to help us think about how the world actually works using models within our understanding, but they are not a prescription for how policy should be conducted.
In addition to what others have said about the article, I think that is also highlights the importance of deeper analysis of economic data about the developing world, as opposed to more generalized and superficial data. The example that stuck out to me was the level of education in India. In India, 93.4% of children ages 6-14 are enrolled in public schools. On the surface, this data may seem relatively encouraging and lead the average consumer or even policy makers to believe that there is not a significant education problem in India. However, further analysis of the data reveals 34.9% of children age 7 to 14 cannot read a single paragraph at second-grade level. This does not sound like a country that has over 93% of children receiving education to me. This discrepancy underscores the importance of using several indicators to measure an indicator of development. Further analysis of the level of education available in India would most likely reveal that a large portion of teachers do not show up to school on a regular basis, that these teachers are not well-trained, or that there are far too many students in a class. As we continue to read more articles this semester, it is important to keep such examples in mind.
Toggle Commented Sep 11, 2013 on Economic Lives of the Poor at Jolly Green General
While I, like many others, was shocked by the severity of overfishing and the and the effects of climate change and pollution on the ocean, I am not that surprised that it is harder to raise awareness about environmental problems of the ocean. First of all, as the article points out, no part of the ocean belongs to any specific country, and it is therefore not in any one country's direct economic interest to take action. This problem is a classic tragedy of the commons, but it is perhaps even worse because most people do not live near or even see the ocean on a regular basis, so they do not see this problem affecting them at all. While climate change on land will physically manifest in changing weather patterns and differences to the majority of the world's everyday lives, overfishing and ocean acidification do not directly affect most people. Additionally, as we discussed in class last week, people are much more likely to want to help animals that have human characteristics--animals with big eyes like owls or dogs. Fish look absolutely nothing like humans. They have small eyes, scales and are mostly viewed only as a source of food. While there is certainly a population of people that care about the well-being of fish, this population is not large compared to the rest of the world. In order to raise awareness about this issue, it may be necessary to frame it by how it will change human life: diminishing choices of edible fish, fewer recreational opportunities, etc.
Like Courtney, it was refreshing to see Tejada highlight the need for exchange of information on important issues impacting environment justice communities. For any type of policy or action to ameliorate environmental problems, it will be extremely important to keep both policy makers and the public informed of a wide array of information from many different fields. As others have pointed out, it is not just the direct environmental effects that are important, but residual effects on health and quality of life. It was also great to read about policy plans that are both adaptive and preventative. As we read in some of our earlier articles, both actions that will help us adapt to climate change or any other environmental problem and actions that will help prevent future damage will be necessary to combat the problem.
As others have mentioned, this article reflects the conclusion of the Stabilization Wedges paper,which demonstrates that we can stabilize CO2 concentration at 500 ppm using technology that we currently possess. As the paper points out, multiple solutions will be needed to stabilize emissions, and these solutions must come from efficiency, land use and fuel shift categories. This article specifically discusses alternative energy, which is obviously a large part of solution, but it would also be interesting to hear about plans that would incorporate improvements in land use. As Professor Casey mentioned in class, many solutions in this category, such as those relating to agriculture and deforestation, would be cheaper to implement and would probably be more widely accepted in the political arena. Since the massive overhaul of energy sources suggested in this article for New York State seems very severe and unlikely to move forward, it may be practical to suggest a more moderate plan to switch to alternative energy accompanied by changes in land use.
As many others have said, I find it extremely disappointing that climate change policy has become such a politicized issue. While any policy regarding the environment must obviously originate in congress, it does not need to be the case that conservatives and liberals be in opposition on every issue. I found it interesting that "many conservatives in the Congress undoubtedly opposed climate policies because of disagreement about the threat of climate change or the costs of the policies." While I am not at all surprised that the general public is uninformed about climate change and, as the article "Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change" proves, most people are unaware of the overwhelming consensus about climate change in the scientific community. It is somewhat surprising to me, however, that members of Congress are as uneducated as the public. It seems to me that the people charged with passing our government's legislation should research and fully understand the issues that they are debating. If all the articles we have read that state that there is now no question of whether climate change is occurring are true, then there should not be a question in Congress about the threat of climate change. Considering the strong conservative bias against any type of government intervention, however, I wonder if more education on the issue would even help that much.
Toggle Commented Mar 12, 2013 on Another Political Football at Jolly Green General
I thought it was very interesting that when discussing the frustrated response to China's continue pollution problems, Flanagan mentions that while Chinese social media was flooded with negative reactions, "irritation over the long-brewing issue was perhaps best summed up by a viral photo originally posted on popular Web portal of an unhappy looking Yao Ming, grimacing at the Beijing sky." This comment relates back to our discussion in class of how and where the general public gets their information about climate change and other climate issues. Just as people are more likely to listen to Leonardo DiCaprio about climate change than they are an educated scientist, Flanagan seems to think that more people will pay attention to China's air pollution problems if they hear that Yao Ming is concerned. While this idea is troubling, it is certainly true. In order to get the public to care about these issues, maybe it would help if other famous athletes, actors, singers and other stars tweeted about them or spoke about them publicly. While this is obviously not the best way to ensure that the public is informed with complete and accurate information, it may be the best way to peek their interest and motivate them to act.
Toggle Commented Mar 5, 2013 on Off The Charts at Jolly Green General
Like many others, I was surprised to read that black carbon (soot) has such a large effect on global climate change. Others also pointed out that this effect is very imprecise, because the confidence interval ranges from .17 watts to 2.1 watts. While it is true that this is a very wide range and that further research will need to be conducted to determine a more precise estimate, it is also important to realize that we do not have enough for scientists to conduct more and more studies to get extremely precise estimates. Even with preliminary research, it is important for scientists to educate the public about issues related to climate change. As we read in some of our articles for class last week, the public has a very different perception on how scientists view the problem of climate change. Part of this problem comes from the public not being aware of research because it is not as precise as it should be. If we wait around too long to find the exact effects, then it may be too late to take action. Since it is clear from the research that black carbon has some negative effect on the Earth's climate, it is important that we take action now to help alleviate the problem.
Toggle Commented Feb 12, 2013 on Worse than we thought.... at Jolly Green General
Like many of the other posts, I am ashamed that the U.S. is ranked 33rd out of 34 countries of the OECD in carbon dioxide taxes. However, I would also like to point out that this article comes from the New York Times, and not a scientific journal. There are many studies out there that make a strong argument linking global climate change to superstorms (check out the journal Scientific American), but the New York Times does not include such studies, because it is geared towards the average reader, and not consumers of scientific data. While it may have been helpful for the writer to link to some further studies, his decision to link Hurricane Sandy with global climate change is definitely not unfounded. Regarding a possible carbon tax in the U.S., it is clear that we will have to wait for the economy to improve significantly before we can get voters to consider environmental issues. Now, everyone is focused on what will happen to the economy, and concerns like global climate change have fallen into the background. Once people feel that their economic well-being is no longer in jeopardy, they will be more likely to consider a tax on emissions and other steps towards slowing global climate change.
Like many others have previously commented, the argument that lower-cost natural gas has eliminated the need for the program and that we should therefore reset the cap to allow higher levels of pollution does not make any sense, but environmentally and economically. If the cap is reset to allow more pollution, then it will cost less to pollute. Unless it costs less to use the lower-cost natural gas, then companies will pollute more. And, as the author points out, lower-cost natural gas decreases the MAC of carbon emissions, the efficient policy response is to reduce emissions, and not enact a policy that could possibly raise them. Even though we have invested in lower-cost natural gas, the problem of carbon emissions is not irrelevant, and it is important for policy-makers to not only focus on alternatives to carbon, but also continuing to control the carbon emissions that still persist.
For me, this post not only clarified the nonexistence of deadweight loss in the instance of a Pigouvian tax; the author also pointed out that for a Pigouvian tax not to create a deadweight loss, the revenue from the tax must be used to help alleviate the negative effects of the externality. For example, he states that the revenue from cigarette taxes are used to pay for additional health costs caused by cigarettes. This helped to clarify the distinction from a fiscal tax, in which not only does the tax not help reduce a negative externality, but the revenue is used for other purposes not necessarily related to what is being taxed. In the comment above, Kathryn refers to the crayon example from class, which is really an example of command and control, since a law exists in the U.S. that says toxins cannot be put into crayons. If the restriction on toxins in crayons was a Pigouvian tax instead of a law, then it might be more difficult to get such a tax passed. However, I think that the tax would be very effective for crayon manufacturers, since it is inexpensive to make crayons without toxins, so the marginal abatement cost is probably much less than the marginal damage.
Toggle Commented Jan 21, 2013 on My Bad..... at Jolly Green General
In my Chemistry 100 class that I took last semester, we spent a lot of time discussing the issue of Climate Change and possible solutions. The problem with most of the solutions we discussed was that they would be extremely costly, particularly to the U.S. government. A carbon tax, however, would not cost the U.S. government money, but would actually help reduce the budget deficit, which makes this option much more attractive from an economical standpoint. As Courtney points out, in addition, Sanders proposed several other measures, such as investment in efficiency, sustainable energy and clean energy research that would counterbalance the effect of a carbon tax on the deficit and possibly even increase it. In my chemistry class we also discussed different approaches to the problem of climate change, usually motivated by self-interest, including waiting and studying the effects of climate change further before taking any action, and the opposite approach, quickly taking many actions to try and improve the problem. It seems that neither of these extremes are likely to alleviate the problem, in part because they are not likely to be approved by voters; therefore I think that proposing just a part of Sander's climate bill, the carbon tax, and putting off some of the other actions until the economy has improved, would be a more sensible option. As others have said, even if a carbon tax is unlikely to get passed, its proposal is definitely a step in the right direction.
Toggle Commented Jan 15, 2013 on Rumor has it..... at Jolly Green General
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Jan 14, 2013