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Jenny Rea Bulley
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The intro to this paper blatantly lays out the extent of the worldwide use of coal and some of the basic negative effects of such use. Coal is responsible for 40% of emissions and is the largest source of electricity. China uses more coal than the US, the EU, and Japan combined. Only a fraction of the potential energy is actually extracted from burning coal. From here, the authors transition to discussing their method of life cycle analysis of coal. Basically, they evaluate each unit of coals life cycle, including underground mining, mountain top removal, coal mining, transportation, combustion, waste disposal, and electricity transmission. For each one of these parts of coal's life cycle, the paper estimates the costs of externalities that are not captured in the current cost of production. The chart on page 78-80 gives a comprehensive list of all such costs. After doing such analysis, they conclude that the total cost of coal production in 2008$ is 345.3 billion dollars. They go on to provide many recommendations to minimize these costs. Most recommendations include investing in some other sorts of energy. Some are as simple as planting roof top gardens. We would like to see a more comprehensive recommendation section as the one that is given is incomplete and not fleshed out, if you will. It does not discuss the costs or benefits of these initiatives, nor does the paper really explain the reasoning behind them, except that it minimizes coal use.
Toggle Commented Feb 11, 2014 on Paper for next Tuesday at Jolly Green General
Reading about climate change is nothing new to our generation. I feel like this issue is brought up again and again, often with opposing opinions on what is actually taking place here. Is climate change happening? Are we just running around yelling that the sky is falling? The "data" suggest both. This article is a very clear, concise, and convincing argument that global warming is happening and that it would have severe effects, especially in the tropics. There would be food shortages, flooding, dryer climates, etc. I think it is safe to say that we do not want global warming to happen, regardless whether or not you think it will. I spent last summer in Ilulissat, Greenland. This little town is home to the Ilulissat Icefjord, the most active glacier in the world. In the last few years, the fjord has been pumping out large (although not all-time highs)amounts of ice at record velocity. However, the people there, the locals and the Icefjord staff, seem unconcerned with global warming. They claim that it isn't anything new; that this has happened before. They have the mentality that there is plenty of ice, it isn't going anywhere. Even if melting speeds up four-fold, the ice cap still has thousands of years to melt before it is at dangerously low levels. I don't know how founded in science these opinions are, but they exists, nonetheless. I simply found it interesting that people who live in one of, arguably, the most affected by global warming, seem lackadaisical at best to address the issue.
Toggle Commented Nov 14, 2013 on ECON 280 Updated Syllabus at Jolly Green General
This article was especially useful and eye-opening for me as I am hoping to work with an international organization in the developing world when I graduate, focusing mainly on small business enterprise and microfinance. I have read articles about the benefits and successes of microfinance, and some on its failure. This article is helpful in that it discusses why a microfinance institution can or could not help those it serves. It is of the utmost importance to look holistically at communities and problems instead of aiming at one failure at a time. Poverty is complex and intricate and can not be solved with one solution. It is going to take a combination and a coordination of solutions to alleviate extreme poverty. Going forward, I intend to use knowledge, skill, and passions that I have developed in college to thoroughly and effectively analyze social and economic problems and then aim policy or programs at correcting them. It will not involve a simple loan or savings account as this paper shows how that is simply not enough to indicate success.
Toggle Commented Oct 24, 2013 on Microfinance (econ 280) at Jolly Green General
This article makes me really contemplate rational thought and market failures. In several classes we are discussing women's roles in development. There is a general consensus that investment in women yields higher return to investment because they distribute their human capital and income to their children and to health and education at a higher rate than men. This is because of their caretaker role and their lower starting point in development. I thought a lot about why women are treated worse than men, especially in developing economies. We understand how important women are to development, so then why does this problem persist. It can be easy to pass judgement. However, there are rational explanations for this phenomenon. Women cannot yield as much physical output as men. Also, men receive a dowry at marriage and women must give one. Women leave the family at marriage to join the husband's, providing no more benefit to her parents. When your income and livelihood is so dependent on child labor and support, it makes sense that men are more valued, in the short run. In the long-run, we understand this concept is a fallacy and simply immoral and wrong. How do we change this systematic favoring of men over women? Is it simply education? Is it market restructuring? I don't have the answers.
Rodrik made many interesting points about trying to apply "cookie-cutter" (thanks Mac) policy to spur development. It is often easy for us, Westerners, to assume economic development follows democracy and market-driven free economies. However, Roderik pointed out that as long as we follow neo-classical models within context, development will follow. That is not to say that every policy will work in every country. The key is to evaluate and analyze within context. He uses many case studies to illustrate his argument. He uses China contrasted with India contrasted with Korea contrasted with Latin American countries to show that you cannot simply take a strategy that worked for someplace else, apply it, and hope for the same results when your political and social makeup are vastly different. Roderik also discusses sustainable development versus development spurts. This hits on what we discussed on Tuesday in class. It is easier to move along the production function by adding labor or adding capital, but that kind of development will not last as the returns to investment continue to shrink. Policy should aim at rotating the production function up, increasing national capacity to develop. However, again, this is not a cookie-cutter recommendation as different countries should approach this differently depending on where they currently reside in the model. Overall, this paper argues that classical economics should not be forgotten in policy decisions, but it should not be used naively and willy-nilly. Let knowledge of classical economics inform policy decisions given national conditions, culture, economies, and politics.
Toggle Commented Sep 26, 2013 on Growth Strategies - Econ 280 at Jolly Green General
As other students have discussed, this paper deals largely with the invalidity of high development theory and models in general. I have been getting in arguments with my friends about the concept of economics being a science. They are pre-med or psychology students. However adamantly I can argue for research economics to be a science (based on the scientific method and drawing from empirical data), I always must concede when it comes to theoretical economics. No matter how well thought out a theory is, there are always assumptions made and exceptions to be had. Theories and models cannot ever truly represent reality because they are not reality. Economists must realize that their models do not always tell the true story. Real life has more than two axis. There often exists many many variables and systems and forces at work to cause something to happen that are not explained by the model. This is why there are half a dozen or so theories of development. They all make sense and they all have examples to support them. So the question now becomes, how do we choose which to apply and where?
Something that struck me in this article that the author did not explore thoroughly is the cultural, social, and communal barriers to acting in the ways he described as beneficial. He went into how and why the poor do not save, invest in education, migrate long-term, etc; however, he did not explore some of the non-economic barriers to acting in these ways. Something I found while working on the Navajo Indian reservation is that their ties to family, land, and history trumped their financial obligations. They would rather stay on the reservation earning less income than move off and earn more. The same goes for weddings, funerals, and ceremonies. Often, these practices have heavy spiritual and cultural significance that to neglect the would be detrimental to individuals. Another thing I notice while reading this article is that the author tends to assume that the poor are consciously making these decisions with full knowledge. I do not think that is the case in most instances. Perhaps the poor would purchase higher calorie food if they were better informed about nutrition. Perhaps they would specialize and reap better returns to scale if they knew what benefits could be reaped. Overall, I agree with most the author said about the way poor interact with the world around them. There is more to poverty than individual neglect and market barriers. Like other students discussed, there exists a cycle of poverty that ensnares generations of people. There is no easy solution to this problem as it is an aggregate of many problems.
Toggle Commented Sep 12, 2013 on Economic Lives of the Poor at Jolly Green General
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Sep 12, 2013