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Juan Mayol
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The Executive Summary does a good job at describing the possible negative outcomes that will occur at specific places given the case that the average temperature increases by 2 degrees Celsius, or by 4 degrees Celsius. Geographically and/or demographically similar regions are expected to face similar issues. Some of these are related to rise of sea level, desertification and deforestation, rural to urban migration, spread of diseases and other health issues, reduction in crops yields and livestock for some areas, decrease in biodiversity, more extreme climate phenomena such as droughts and storms, negative effects on energy production, melting of glaciers, among other several negative consequences that will affect most of the planet if the temperature rises. My only critiques are that they should account (and maybe they do on other publication) for what are the possible solutions or what is being done now to counteract or get ready for these changes, and that they do not take into consideration the possibility for innovation and change as we talked today in class. So I think that either the paper is too pessimistic, or that if it is not, it does not try to propose any solution to the given problems. Furthermore, it does not try to point out who the major players responsible for this temperature increase, which could help target the problem before it causes everything mentioned on the publication. So, I think this publication is good to create awareness, but it would be more effective if it took an extra step and tried to propose possible solutions.
After reading the article and some of my classmates comments, there are some thoughts I would like to share, focusing on the part involving the use of money for other purposes than feeding themselves. My argument is not based from "I come from South America and understand this better than the rest of the people in my class", but from my experience working with poor people while I was in high school, and during these past year at W&L, when I had the opportunity to go to Guatemala on a service trip. People in less developed countries have a totally different mindset than what we are used here in the US, and especially here at W&L. Not everything is investment banking and making money. During my week in Guatemala, I made friends with a 14 year old kid that worked at a construction site from 4am until noon to support his sister because their parents died in a mudslide. That job does not pay him enough to reach the 2000 calories, and instead of doing afternoon shifts to reach this amount, he would play soccer with his friends, and go to the Semana Santa festivities at night. The article by Banerjee and Duflo described perfectly this behavior, but I think they should do a better job at explaining the reasons behind this. From my conversation with 'Rambo' (that is how he called himself), I found out that he is aware that his expenditure is not the most "rational", as economic books would say, and he realized that there were visible effects of his malnutrition, like in his height, but he explained that given the circumstances that he found himself, he would give preference to the 'small pleasures' in life, like drinking coca cola instead of buying more food, or playing soccer instead of working. It takes a while to get used to the idea, but after hanging out with him every day for a week, I realized that his 'levels of happiness' where the same as someone with infinitely more resources than him. He most likely has a lower life expectancy, and given his situation he will probably never learn a fraction of what another 17 year old boy in a developed country does, but by spending his daily dollar on things that would sound irrational, after his misfortunes and his poor alimentation, he managed to keep a constant smile on his face. When making an economic decision, there is always an opportunity cost, a marginal cost, and a marginal benefit, and given the circumstances, someone with less resources would prefer to eat ice cream, drink coca cola, or play soccer, instead of eating another tortilla or working extra hours, and this will make total sense in their heads because the instantaneous benefit they get from this is larger. He knew that with the diseases, earthquakes, volcano eruptions, and mudslides, he could die at any moment, like his parents, so why would he save for later and think in the long run?
Toggle Commented Sep 18, 2014 on 280 reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
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Sep 17, 2014