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Katherine Rush
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Shawn's point about the Cape Cod wind farm really hit home with me, since my extended family has lived there for many generations and falls into the category of people strongly against the wind farm. If you asked Cape Cod residents if they thought the plan for New York state to switch entirely to renewable sources of energy was a good idea, I don't doubt that most would say yes. But as soon as you say that they will have to pay some of the cost by having the wind turbines in their backyards, on their favorite beaches, etc. they will change their answer. We all want what we think is best for our society as a whole, but we are constantly incentivized to free-ride. The benefits mentioned in this article sound wonderful, but the cost has to be paid by someone in order to make those benefits happen.
I agree with Holley that although this air quality problem is happening geographically far away from us, it should be a major source of concern in America. We read earlier this year that PMs are very difficult to monitor and regulate. But they can obviously create extremely dangerous living conditions that affect the health of anyone who goes outside. Reading this article reminded me of how Beijing enacted strict regulations on driving leading up to the 2008 Olympics. I found this article, discussing the results of reducing traffic and therefore carbon emissions: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120724144431.htm Although this article does not specifically mention the change in particulate matter, we know PMs are emitted from fossil fuel-burning cars. Decreasing the amount of cars on the road clearly helped the air quality during the Olympics, as intended by the policy makers. I wonder if this strategy could be permanently reinstated to help combat the air quality issue, or if that would be too difficult to sustain for long periods of time. Either way, obviously something must be done not only in Beijing, but in other major cities where pollution is becoming this extreme.
Toggle Commented Mar 1, 2013 on Off The Charts at Jolly Green General
While I agree with some of the commenters above that are skeptical about the causal link between climate change and natural disasters, I hope that events like Hurricane Sandy will force people to realize that a slight increase in gas prices is worth the cost of such tragic disasters. While this article focuses on just the economic losses incurred by Hurricane Katrina and Sandy, we all know from class last week that there are certain damages without market values. According to the article, temperatures are only going to rise faster in the coming century and "damages will rise more sharply than the temperature curve". So why is the United States so slow to increase emission taxes when top economists agree that it is the cheapest method for combatting climate change? I agree with Eric that the United States' rank as 33rd out of 34 countries in terms of carbon taxation is pretty embarrassing, given that we are one of the top emitters in the world. Looking at the list, I can't help but wonder what China's policy is and whether they would rank above or below us on carbon tax per ton.
I missed Obama's second inaugural speech when it was televised, so I'm glad this article prompted me to read the transcript. In the paragraph that Nate Silver discusses, President Obama begins boldly saying "We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations". He goes on to link anthropogenic sources of pollution with wildfires, droughts, and storms, and urges America to be the world leader of the transition to sustainable energy. The President ends his message about climate change by linking it to the economy, arguing that new technology related to reducing pollution will create jobs and revitalize the economy. The statistics that Nate Silver cites in this article prove that American citizens are on the path to agreement that climate change needs to be addressed. But despite the increasingly convincing scientific evidence that human activity is accelerating global warming, I don't think any of those statistics will ever reach 100%. Not everyone will be happy about the policies that Obama intends to implement, but that doesn't mean they should be avoided.
I agree with Emily Zankman's idea above that the word "tax" always has a negative connotation. Even in Microeconomics, most of us were trained to associate taxes with inefficiency, no matter what type of tax it was. I'm glad I read this article clarifying the difference between the effects of Pigouvian taxes and fiscal taxes, because I had honestly always lumped them together as price distortions resulting in that inefficient little triangle on our graphs. Now that I realize that Pigouvian taxes align marginal social cost with marginal private cost (resulting in the optimal level of production) AND do so by allocating resources more efficiently (without creating a deadweight loss), I agree with Emily that maybe we should rename Pigouvian taxes. Before studying economics, I would definitely have fallen into the trap that most Americans do and equate the word "tax" with a cost and not a benefit. I never would have known that higher gas prices could actually represent both environmental and economic benefits.
Toggle Commented Jan 23, 2013 on My Bad..... at Jolly Green General
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Jan 23, 2013