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Shawn Swaney
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The fisheries population is literally in shambles. At this point, we have overfished it to the point where many species are unable to rebound. While it all seems good and well to stop fishing, how many of us are actually going to stop buying that sushi, find that pack of tuna with the sustainable catch logo, the list goes on. Because we can not directly census populations of fish like we can with terrestrial species, we have no direct sense of how massively we are impacting the populations. Being a Biology major that wants to go into management of fisheries and species conservation, this issue hits home for me pretty hard. Unless we take drastic measures very soon, the fisheries system as we know it will die. Even though we have a grim future in the open water, sustainable actions like farm fishing and aquaculture allow for a slow shift away from unsustainable practices. There is a lot of promising legislation in the works, but until this issue comes into every single home's decision-making, it won't do much good
When I read through this article, I took special notice to the part where they talked about the cap and trade system and how it failed in a community. Especially in an community that is deemed as an "environmental justice community", I would imagine that a cap and trade system (something we've spent a great deal of time talking about in class this term) is incredibly harmful. Following that, I read a bit of the Skocpol article that they have linked and mentioned. This Harvard article says: "Innovation-oriented environmentalists are not the only ones who can ask for more funding. In February 2012, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy issued a “Philanthropy at Its Best” report called Cultivating the Grassroots: A Winning Approach for Environment and Climate Funders, taking up the cause of hundreds of social-justice oriented environmental groups, many of them relatively small and locally focused, who also felt slighted by the concentration of 2000s philanthropy on the USCAP effort...The fine print of the report, however, revealed a clear agenda – to designate a fixed share of funding to go to small, social justice-oriented groups, pretty much regardless of their relevance to any realistic policy agenda about climate change or the limitation of dangerous emissions." I thought it was especially interesting that this report states to allocate a fixed amount of resources, regardless of their relevance to any realistic policy. I would think that determining which actions need to be funded, especially in an environmental justice community, shouldn't be limited to just climate change or emissions. There are a myriad of problems that force these communities to bear negative externalities, not simply just problems that stem from climate change. In my opinion, in order to be able to have effective work in social justice, we need to consider broadening the terms of what is actually realistic and helpful. From there, we can determine the best ways of helping these communities
The benefits proposed by changing New York's power source in the article above seems feasible and incredibly beneficial. The presence of a statistic on premature deaths avoided (however this statistic was produced) makes the ideas seemingly enticing to the public eye. While I think the ideas proposed are incredibly beneficial and the direction that NY should be working towards, but putting those ideas into practice presents a whole different set of difficulties. I think back to another class that I was in where we talked about the Cape Wind Project. Designed to put wind turbines on Cape Cod, the Cape Wind project would provide large amounts of sustainable energy on Cape Cod. While good in theory, many residents of Cape Cod are against the project as the turbines would be deemed as eyesores, among other various reasons. I bring this up in order to bring light to the fact that while NY's proposed plan looks great and would be incredibly positive, moving the plan from proposal to action is going to face a lot more work.
Like Holley's response above, I also found the mass shift in ideology from a pro to a negative cap and trade system rather intriguing. I really like how Holley also quoted Krugman in saying "we have the economic analysis of limiting greenhouse gases, now we just need the political will." This political will, and more importantly the will of the public, is where I see the problems in the situation. With a cap and trade system, I would imagine it would be hard to convince people to vote for a system where you are paying to pollute. Even if you were uneducated about climate change and carbon dioxide emissions, I think it is an inherent trend in society to associate bad connotations with pollution. On the other side of the coin (taxes over cap and trade), very few are going to willingly vote for higher prices on gasoline and other commodities to allow for a carbon tax. This duality is where I think that legislation has come to a standstill. No one can rally around the "best" idea, because to the untrained public eye (which most of the voters would be) both options have a negative connotation to them. In my opinion the solution lies in advancements in technology. If we can find a way to lower the cost of producing emitting commodities like gasoline, a small spike in prices wouldn't mean as much. I would think that the two would allow for just enough of an offset that the public could rally behind it
Toggle Commented Mar 8, 2013 on Another Political Football at Jolly Green General
I'll admit that when I see pictures from Asia and the people are wearing masks, I tend to over-exaggerate it. I always had assumed the masks were solely used to protect from things like avian flu when there was an outbreak. Seeing the pictures in the article and looking up a few more on my own, it is crazy to think that these people are living and breathing this air. You can barely see in the before/after picture, I can only imagine how hard it would be to get a breath of clean air. I'm glad that the new leadership that the article talks about is conscious and aware about the environmental status of their land. Realistically it won't get to a pristine level of cleanliness quickly,. Hopefully they will walk the walk after they've been apparently talking the talk for the past year.
Toggle Commented Feb 28, 2013 on Off The Charts at Jolly Green General
This coalition of states, as the source article and some background research suggest, are based mostly in the Northeastern part of the United States and some parts of Canada. While reducing the cap on carbon emissions is good in theory, I wonder as to how specialized the CGGI is to the specific emission trends in the Northeast. In my opinion, to be able to significantly reduce carbon emissions, this cap would have to be national. The specialization of the cap to the Northeastern states could prove less useful for other states on the western coast or anywhere else in the nation for that matter.
Emily, I'm glad you brought up the statistics, as it was a part of the article that my attention was drawn to upon reading. The range of watts/square meter is so large, especially when you consider that carbon dioxide emissions (something that society and scientists deem as prevalent) are listed at 1.56 W/sq meter. This signals to me that "black carbon" is an area that needs to be looked into further. It shows promise that a team of 31 scientists were solely focused on this topic. In the future, further evaluation of soot emissions and taking advantage of its inevitability could prove incredibly useful. When you think of issues like rising sea level, I often think that it is an inevitable consequence of global climate change. Nw being able to look at the positive effects of soot in the atmosphere, I have confidence that there is a feasible way to slow the rising sea level.
Toggle Commented Feb 9, 2013 on Worse than we thought.... at Jolly Green General
I think Sommer makes an excellent point by bringing in the fact that when we use the term "public", it does not solely refer to Americans, but to everyone (although the surveys and polls in the article are domestic). I spent three years of my life living in Austria, where they were incredibly conscious about the environment in a time where it wasn't as big of a hot button issue as it is currently. From the outside, a lot of people view the United States, a country that is responsible for a significant portion of the world's pollution, as a place that doesn't care about the environment and the repercussions our actions have on it. I would have to agree with Sommer when she states that situations like these, where Americans bring topics like the environment into a public forum, are a huge reason as to why President Obama is well liked in many foreign countries. Obviously the environment is one issue in a myriad of issues that can be discussed. I find the poll stating that "Fifty-seven percent of the 1,002 adults surveyed said the United States government should do “a great deal” or “quite a bit” on global warming" interesting as well. Given that these polls were taken soon after the Presidential Election, it would be interesting to see how people had voted and see if the candidate they voted for lined up with their ideology on the environment.
I find it interesting that Nick brings up the idea of the background of the students. While we really can't know that for sure, it brings in a certain methodology of thought. Personally, I am not an economics major, rather I am in this class for the environmental side of things. Because of that, my first instinct with a lot of these concepts and examples is to take them at face value. Basically thinking "well it has to be 100% flawless because it's in the book." I don't have the economic minded brain that a major would to recognize the flaw in the Pigouvian theory. Also, Matthew's point about understanding how taxes would benefit society was interesting to me. People knowing the exact intentions behind the tax would incentivize similar thinking, but only in a perfect world. I think that the word "tax", despite the positive benefits they have in this situation, would scare enough people away from allowing this kind of thinking to really gain any traction
Toggle Commented Jan 25, 2013 on My Bad..... at Jolly Green General
I think Callie makes a great point in referencing the fact that our society today is incredibly litigious. Everywhere you look it seems like there is some new law being passed. It doesn't surprise me that the US would, as the article suggests in the third paragraph, try to keep talks away from compensation and litigation. In my opinion, the US is trying to steer talks away from this, as we would have the most to lose by litigation being put in place. I found this article,, which talks about how the US is the biggest contributor of CO2 emissions worldwide (per capita). Litigation or compensation would seemingly put the US into a bigger financial hole. I'm pro-USA, but there's only so far that our "all talk and no action" strategy about improving environmental quality can go.
When Friedman says in his response "I have a hard time trying to find something to disagree with in this column", I can certainly empathize. When I read about how excess carbon levels could impact sea levels rising, I thought back to some other things that I have seen before. I watched a documentary over the summer called "Sun Come Up", which documented the story of the people of the Cartetet Islands. The sea levels are rising so much, that they are basically being forced to evacuate their home. The rising salt water prevents any crops from being grown and their land is eventually going to go underwater. Tyey have no food, no space, and basically no hope but to pick up and leave. I've seen in many places that it is estimated that the island will be completely submerged by 2015. Many other islands are facing the same problem. Here's an article I found that showed some of them: While this deviates from the original topic of a "carbon tax", I think that specific consequences of carbon emissions have to be taken into consideration when potential legislation is being discussed. Anecdotes like the Carterets show the fate we could soon face if we don't begin to seriously think about carbon emissions and rising sea levels. How do we, a nation separated by a huge ocean from the aforementioned islands, respond to something that isn't a domestic issue?
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Jan 9, 2013