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Marissa Gubler
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This is great that they are building large solar plants in the US. It is really nice that the US and Spain are both developing a solar plant, as this could be an example of successful international carbon mitigation and lead to facilitating international cooperation concerning mitigating carbon emissions. If these solar plants are successful, they might serve as an example for future energy development and help further the shift towards cleaner alternative energies. Not only will these (and hopefully many future) plants help reduce carbon emissions, but the construction of these plants will also create jobs at a time when unemployment rates are fairly high, thereby possibly having positive effects, such as, reducing crime and stresses on welfare systems.
Matthew Tejada has a good way of thinking about approaching environmental justice issues. Grassroots efforts and unity are key to communities seeking environmental justice as the more people make an uproar about the toxins that they are being exposed to, the more likely politicians and corporations are to listen. However, while getting environmental justice communities health care and transportation are beneficial, they do not truly take care of the problem, which is the release of toxins. As corporations are unlikely to change there polluting behavior unless they are given an incentive, politicians need to create tax and command and control policies for toxins, especially those that are known to be carcinogenic. Where the grassroot efforts and local people come in is in pressuring the corporations and politicians into changing polluting behavior. While it will probably be difficult to phase out carcinogen discharge overnight, policies could be structured to phase out carcinogens within a couple of years. If the environmental justice problem is similar to Love Canal as the community was built on a toxic waste site, then the government could subsidize families to relocate to safer locations at the expense of the party that was responsible for the irresponsible storage of toxic waste. Of course it might be hard to locate the responsible party, and in that case the subsidies could come out of an emergency fund provided by pollution taxes or pollution permits.
This was a very interesting read. One point I wished the article explored would be what caused a majority of conservatives in Congress to shift their views from indorsing cap and trade to attacking it within the last 20 years. In other words, why does there exist a sense that conservatives cannot support government intervention in the regulation of environmental hazards/ problems? Anyways, if the United States is going to solve any of our problems, from economic repression to climate change, Congressional senators and representatives cannot let their partisanship dictate the way they vote. Decisions should be made by evaluating impacts of all actions in question with an eye that is as much unbiased as possible. Constituents need to take notice of the government's current inaction, such as in the sequestration, and vote out officials who only vote based on their political affiliation instead of voting based on evaluating the costs and benefits of action and inaction. Then again, there are politicians who act like they are concerned about an issue, but instead of acting on that, they just keep talking. These are some of the reasons why the United States has so many problems facing its people, because the government officials typically want to argue and create stalemates instead of trying to solve the problem. The only way to change this is for voters to inform themselves as much as possible so that they can make the best choices during elections and vote people who do not help our situation out. Of course, if the United States wants to back up climate change legislation on a global scale, it needs to make some move, whether it be a carbon tax or a cap and trade system, so that other countries can take us seriously and be more willing to join in the efforts to mitigate climate change.
Toggle Commented Mar 10, 2013 on Another Political Football at Jolly Green General
The closing of coal plants has huge environmental and health benefits, but also there is a negative consequence that needs to be addressed. While it is great that with two years three coal-burning plants will be shut down and replaced with wind and solar plants, the generally impoverished communities employed at those three plants will become unemployed and will likely struggle just to stay on top of expenses. A solution to this consequence of closing plants could be to build the wind and solar plants where the coal plants currently are instead of building them in a different state. Perhaps, the workers can be employed at least in part to construct the new plants, but until the plant is built AEP should make sure their laid-off workers find another job, perhaps at another location, or compensate them until they can get a job at the newly built plants. On the bright side, it is great that AEP is recognizing the need and opportunity to switch to fuels that have a lesser impact on climate change, environmental health, and human health. Additionally, the installation of pollution scrubbers is a good way to reduce the impact of coal burning plants until they can be converted into plants that burn less impactful fuels, like natural gas. It is amazing how many death, infarctions, and asthma attacks can be prevented by closing these 3 coal plants , and hopefully this data along with the emission data will aid other power companies in seeing that coal burning plants carry along severe consequences and need to be converted to burning alternative, less harmful fuels.
This article definitely provides hope for the global climate problem that humans currently face and will continue to face far into the future as opposed to many articles that merely present the severity of this problem. This is wonderful that these states that make up 20% of the United States' economic output have been able to reduce their carbon emissions by around 20% without weakening the United States’ economy. Hopefully, politicians in Washington will look to this as an example of what it best for the nation. This article really makes a lot of sense, logically. When cap and trade is put into effect, industries are forced to either reduce their carbon dioxide emissions or buy more permits, depending on the price of the permits versus their marginal abatement costs. Just like in this example, the cap and trade system encourages companies to invest in carbon reducing technologies and innovations. Therefore, more jobs are created so that scientists can work on engineering systems that are more efficient at reducing their carbon emissions. With more jobs, more people have more money to spend, and that money is injected into the United States’ economy via spending, thereby promoting growth. Also, it was very interesting that companies did not pass much of the costs of carbon emissions abatement on to the electricity customers, as electricity only went up by around 43 cents per month. Overall, this successful situation should serve as a model for the rest of the nation, and possibly for other areas of the world in respect to curbing carbon emissions to slow the process of global climate change.
Toggle Commented Feb 14, 2013 on Hurray for Market Forces!!!! at Jolly Green General
This New York Times article automatically draws a causal relationship between global warming/ greenhouse gas emissions and hurricanes, droughts, and other forms of severe weather. While it seems that greenhouse gas emissions will exacerbate severe weather occurrences, I would like to see some scientific evidence of this. However, there is no question that by doing nothing, problems associated with global warming will only continue to increase at an increasing rate. The worst thing anyone can do is nothing. Everyone needs to take an active role in reducing their waste and carbon emissions. A tax might be a solution to curbing carbon emissions; however, another tax such as, income tax, should be eliminated or reduced in proportion so that productivity is not stifled by very high gas prices. Since the world runs on petroleum (gasoline, plastics, textiles, etc…), an extreme peak in oil and thus gasoline prices would no doubt discourage American companies from producing goods and might even encourage them to outsource to other countries that have little to no taxes on oil, thereby weakening America’s already fragile economy and causing people to lose their jobs. A way to help counteract this problem is to reduce other taxes, such as, income and inheritance taxes. In order to effectively combat global warming, perhaps the tax should be placed on carbon, methane, and other greenhouse gas emissions in proportion to the damaging potential of each gas. The money collected from carbon emissions taxes could be used for public programmes, improvements in education, grants for climate-based research, and stored away for an emergency disaster fund, among being used to provide aid to other sectors that are in dire need of it.
A permit system involving cap and trade is a good incentive for producers to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. Those manufacturers whose marginal abatement costs for reducing CO2 emissions are less than the price of permits will sell their permits. And those whose marginal abatement costs for reducing CO2 emissions are more than the price of permits will buy permits. Those who have low marginal abatement costs will reduce their CO2 emissions and will likely try to develop new technologies or methods for reducing even more carbon emissions so that they can sell more permits. It is best for the cap in a cap and trade system to be gradually lowered to allow a smaller total of emissions from a given region. In this way, firms are continuously motivated to reduce their emissions and find innovations for providing cleaner energy. It is not wise for the government to raise the cap as that is undoing the work of the former cap and trade system. An increase in emissions will result in more damage to humans, animals, and the environment. thus it makes no sense to raise the cap and allow firms to pollute even more than they already are. Some government officials feel that the cap and trade system is not necessary as some firms have switched over from coal to natural gas and natural gas emits less carbon dioxide than coal. However, those officials who feel this way need to consider the other damages that natural gas entails, in particular its extraction through hydrofracking. In hydrofracking, the water table becomes polluted and freshwater sources are lost and other dire consequences result. The costs and benefits of coal and natural gas need to considered. The best thing to do in this situation is to keep the cap and trade system and gradually lower the cap by reducing the number of permits available over time. The government could make the permits expire after each year of the program and then issue a smaller number of permits each subsequent year.
I found this article to be quite interesting as I never thought before that not all taxes create a loss in consumer and/or producer surplus. It is key to understand that there are taxes that the government levies in order to raise revenue and there are Pigouvian taxes that are levied in order to change consumer and producer behavior. A key feature of Pigouvian taxes is that they usually tax emissions or byproducts rather than taxing the good itself, as they are not meant to discourage production or consumption of that particular good. In other words, Pigouvian taxes are meant to discourage and reduce harmful emissions or byproducts to a socially optimal level. A socially optimal level minimizes social costs, which means that the marginal damages have to be equated to the marginal abatement costs. Unfortunately, the government does not know every firms marginal abatement costs and will likely over- or under-estimate those costs, which will lead to a level of emissions that is not socially optimal. Assuming a perfect world, Pigouvian taxes are great at changing producer behavior to achieve a socially optimal outcome while creating no deadweight losses. Let's say that the government issues a Pigouvian tax on sulfur dioxide emissions. In this case, the primary concern is not to use taxes as a way to gain revenue; instead, the taxes are meant to discourage SO2 emissions to a level that is socially optimal. In this way, production and consumption of a beneficial product is not discouraged, but producers are encouraged to lower emissions to a socially optimal level. On the other hand, if the government wants to raise revenue for public programs, it could place a fiscal tax on textbooks, but in the process they would be discouraging consumption of textbooks as potential buyers would not be as willing to pay above market prices. In essence, this creates a deadweight loss in an area that is vital to a successful society, education.
Toggle Commented Jan 24, 2013 on My Bad..... at Jolly Green General
According to the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, the 5 highest emitters of carbon dioxide are China, United States, India, Russia, and Japan ( If the rate of global climate change is to be slowed down, then at the minimum all these countries need to agree to lower their emissions. However, it would be optimal to have a worldwide agreement to cut down CO2 emissions by a percentage worked out in scientific models, as other developing nations are steadily increasing their greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, since there are many contributors of greenhouse gas emissions, there will be high transaction costs and compromise will likely be hard to reach. So, that no nation is at a production or economic disadvantage due to lowering their carbon emissions, a worldwide limit on greenhouse gas emissions will help to even the playing field. One way to allocate the amount of carbon emissions each country can produce would be to scientifically find the optimal level of carbon emissions and then allocate emissions based on each country’s percentage of the world’s population. However, a population based allocation may not be realistic for some countries, so a goods production based allocation may be another useful metric. No matter, how one puts it, it will be difficult to efficiently divide limits of carbon emissions. Switching over to the legalities of global climate change and damages, such as, increased flooding, disappearance of dry land, and loss of biodiversity, I feel it is extremely hard to prove that one nation or one company or a group of them are completely responsible for adverse effects of global climate change as global warming is not a localized problem. Greenhouse gas emissions from one part of the world affect the world as a whole, and do not just affect the surrounding area. Also, global climate change has been aggravated over time, especially since the Industrial Revolution, by multiple countries and companies, though some entities have filled more carbon sinks than others. Yet, the problem still exists as to how to compensate people adversely affected by global climate change. Perhaps a worldwide fund could be created from worldwide carbon emissions taxes to be used to compensation those who are receiving the costs of carbon emissions. The worse thing anyone can do in this situation is nothing; the world needs to take note of the increasing threat of global climate change and take action to curb it.
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Jan 9, 2013
A small carbon tax on businesses could promote innovation to create greener technologies, improve air quality, decrease the rate of global climate change, and reduce the United States’ consumption of foreign fossil fuels. However, while John Whitehead holds valid points about the benefits of a carbon tax, he does not delve into possible negative consequences. While a carbon tax would encourage businesses to reduce their consumption of carbon-releasing technologies, a high carbon tax could become a financial problem for some American businesses to the point of driving them to locate overseas, where they can survive without being burdened by high taxes. A possible consequence of a high carbon tax is the outsourcing of American companies, which takes away precious jobs for Americans, thereby creating financial difficulties. On an interesting note, how is the government going to monitor how much carbon an entity emits? If there is not a good way to monitor this, then entities can fudge their carbon emissions data while still releasing similar or greater amounts of carbon dioxide.
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Jan 9, 2013