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Emily Foggo
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I agree with the comments above in that I believe Hausman’s comments seem aggressively negative, and in my opinion, they may even be unwarranted. When I was looking over this presentation, I was most surprised that Hausman suggests WTA =WTP. To me, this argument is completely flawed. I wholeheartedly agree with the counter arguments that suggest the difference between the two can be explained either by the elasticity of substitution, or by the fact that people value losses more than they value gains. Again, Hausman completely neglected these explanations and draws his conclusions based on economic theory alone. Despite my concerns with his argument regarding willingness to pay and willingness to accept, I think Hausman correctly identifies other problems with contingent valuation, such as hypothetical bias. We even addressed this issue in class when we discussed different non-market valuation techniques. With that, I agree with Carson in that there may be problems in the CV method, but we should seek to make it better as a technique, not attempt to discredit it completely.
This article reminds me that drastic times call for drastic measures. In a world where we pay dearly for the negative externalities of our energy sources, it is encouraging to hear that New York State thinks they could convert their energy infrastructure into one that is powered by wind, water and solar power in the near future. While I agree with the above-mentioned skepticism regarding the statistics, and do not doubt that the up-front capital required to fund these projects would be immense, I think this is a cost we, as a society, should be willing to accept. As our speaker mentioned last night, and as Professor Casey has talked about all semester, the possible consequences of some forms of energy extraction are horrifying. For one, to think that bromide leaked from shale gas drilling sites has reached the water supply in Pennsylvania, only to react with chlorine in the water to create deadly carcinogens, is terrifying. I do not feel that it is a fair trade off to subject future generations of society to such terrible conditions, merely to pay pennies less per gallon for gasoline or pennies less per kilowatt-hour for home heating. Obviously, there are bound to be economic and environmental consequences from converting to a completely green infrastructure as well, but I feel the literature suggests these consequences are no where near comparable to the negative effects of mining for coal or fracking for natural gas. If we want to curb the drastic and damaging effects of global climate change, we must create drastic measures. If that means possibly converting one of the country’s most energy consuming economies to one with sustainable infrastructure, then I believe we must do so.
I was surprised to read that environmental issues have not always fallen along political lines, but instead use to fall along geographic lines. It seems logical that politicians would lobby for issues that affect their constituents and that depending on their locations, environmental concerns may vary; however, it does not seem logical that politicians would base their support for environmental issues strictly on a political basis. Especially given the success of the sulphur dioxide cap and trade system, I was surprised the read that, in the last twenty years, republicans have turned their backs on environmental policies that have been proven effective. I believe our political system is suffering from information asymmetry with regards to environmental concerns. It seems that government officials do not understand the long-term effects that environmental change will have on our economy and our environment. I agree with some of the earlier posts that suggest moral suasion is the best way to inform the public about the costs and damages of environmental change. Hopefully with more information available to the public, we will be able to put real economic policy in place to prevent global climate change in the future. I was surprised to read that environmental issues have not always fallen along political lines, but instead use to fall along geographic lines. It seems logical that politicians would lobby for issues that affect their constituents and that depending on their locations, environmental concerns may vary; however, it does not seem logical that politicians would base their support for environmental issues strictly on a political basis. Especially given the success of the sulphur dioxide cap and trade system, I was surprised the read that, in the last twenty years, republicans have turned their backs on environmental policies that have been proven effective. I believe our political system is suffering from information asymmetry with regards to environmental concerns. It seems that government officials do not understand the long-term effects that environmental change will have on our economy and our environment. I agree with some of the earlier posts that suggest moral suasion is the best way to inform the public about the costs and damages of environmental change. Hopefully with more information available to the public, we will be able to put real economic policy in place to prevent further global climate from occurring.
Toggle Commented Mar 14, 2013 on Another Political Football at Jolly Green General
After reading this article, I could not help but imagine our Earth as it was depicted in the opening scenes of Disney Pixar's Wall-e. When I first saw the movie in high school, I remember thinking to myself that it would take hundreds of years for humans to have such a detrimental effect of planet Earth, but now, I’m not so sure. With Chinese air quality at 516 ppm of PM2.5 it seems that we are quickly accelerating towards to point of no return for our environment. The statistics coming out of the U.S. Embassy in China should serve as a wake up call to politicians and citizens alike who do not believe that we as humans are having a detrimental effect on our planet. As members of an international community, where environmental concerns have a global impact, we must take action now to stop or slow the deterioration of our planet. After all, I really don’t want to end up like the humans in Wall-e, floating around in space because earth was too polluted to be inhabited.
Toggle Commented Mar 7, 2013 on Off The Charts at Jolly Green General
This article claims that black carbon soot is responsible for 1.1 watts per square meter of the energy that is trapped on earth and contributing to global warming. This statistic places black carbon soot second only to carbon dioxide emissions, which are responsible for 1.56 watts per square meter of the energy trapped within the atmosphere. While this statistic is staggering, I think it is critically important to address the confidence interval with which it comes. In 2009, Doherty and her colleagues stated they were 90% confident that the effect of black carbon soot on the environment was between .17 and 2.1 watts per square meter of energy. From an econometric standpoint, this confidence interval is huge. If black carbon soot were only responsible for .17 watts per square meter of the energy contributing to global warming, then it would only have 10% of the effect that carbon dioxide emissions have. If, however, black carbon soot were responsible for 2.1 watts per square meter of energy, then it would have 130% of the effect of carbon dioxide emissions. This range is simply way too large for me to trust, particularly at a 90% confidence level. With that being said, I still believe it should be a priority to reduce our black carbon soot emissions as much as needed. Until scientists perform further studies, we may not know exactly how dangerous soot really is in the environment, but that does not mean we should ignore the effects completely. We now know soot is not only hazardous to human health but it is also, to a certain degree, hazardous to planetary health. So, regardless of the strength of the effect, we should invest in efforts to reduce emissions now and worry about pinpointing the exact effects later.
Toggle Commented Feb 9, 2013 on Worse than we thought.... at Jolly Green General
I also find it embarrassing that the United States is ranked so poorly for our effective tax per ton on carbon emissions. I was curious to see if those countries that are ranked the highest, emit the fewest metric tons of carbon, or if those countries that are ranked the lowest, emit the most metrics tons of carbon. As it turns out, it doesn’t seem like there is much correlation between these two variables. Countries such as Luxembourg, heavily tax carbon emissions, but also emit 20.4 metric tons of carbon per capita each year, whereas countries such as Mexico do not heavily tax CO2 emissions, but only emit 4.0 metric tons of carbon per capita each year. After some quick research on the World Bank’s website, http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EN.ATM.CO2E.PC, I found these statistics about the following countries and the amount of metric tons of carbon per capita they produced in 2009: 1) Switzerland – 5.4 2) Luxembourg – 20.4 3) Norway – 9.7 4) Netherlands – 10.3 5) Denmark – 8.3 32) Canada – 15.2 33) United States – 17.3 34) Mexico - 4.0 With these results, I question whether or not a tax on carbon emissions is as effective as John Whitehead says it is. It definitely seems possible that countries could have an appropriate tax on carbon emissions yet still produce carbon at incredibly high rates. I think this raises a potentially interesting counter argument to Whitehead’s claim.
As many students have pointed out before, this article is very enlightening regarding the misconceptions of Pigouvian taxes. In addition, I find David's last point in the previous comment to be quite interesting as well. He says that only if we accurately assess the cost of an externality, will we truly be able to ensure that there is no dead weight loss associated with the tax. Since the cost of externalities can vary, it can be difficult to accurately predict the appropriate level of tax, and thus the benefit of a Pigouvian tax can vary as well. I find this to be so interesting because I think David’s comment also relates to Holly’s comment and her previous perception of economics as a field where everything is black or white. In intro level classes, economics may seem very straightforward and predictable, with definite right or wrong answers, but from my experience and the classes I have taken, it seems that there is an exception to every model, every graph, and even every theory. Even in this case, although Zetland just spent some time explaining to us that Pigouvian taxes do not cause dead weight losses, this is only true when the cost of the externality is determined accurately. We cannot say, without a doubt, that a Pigouvian tax will never cause a dead weight loss, because as we’ve learned, that is not always the case. I think this speaks to the fact that economics is a field or grey, with exceptions and anomalies to every solution we may propose.
Toggle Commented Jan 27, 2013 on My Bad..... at Jolly Green General
The article states that “the steps taken in Qatar are just words for now. But they could matter a great deal as droughts intensify, floods spread, heat waves kill, seas rise, and islands disappear”. Personally, I believe it is our responsibility to take action now to put the words spoken in Qatar into action. We cannot continue to ignore the international environmental issues at hand, and while it may be extremely difficult to codify international law, I believe it must be done. As President Obama said in his inaugural speech today, we must, “[invest] in the generation that will build [our] future,” and if that means developing an international court to adjudicate on environmental challenges, then we must figure out how to create a fair, judicial system. Understandably, there are doubts about this process, like those Scott Diamond expressed, but we as citizens of this earth need to take responsibility for the damages our actions have caused. I think the best way to combat fears about such a system is to further invest in attribution research, as the article described. The stronger the cause and effect argument is, the stronger the evidence against polluting nations will be. So even though critics have said that the idea of an international law system may sound promising, but will fail in execution, I say we continue to invest in such a system until we find a solution that is viable and fair. Interestingly, President Obama also said in his inaugural address that, “we recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm.” While Mr. Obama may have been speaking about issues larger than our current environmental challenges, I think this quotes speaks to the fact that we are all at the mercy of other countries and other countries’ ability to pollute, so no matter how responsible we may be, our actions may be meaningless without a broader overarching international court system to support our efforts.
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Jan 21, 2013