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Tommy Concklin
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It is extremely frightening how massive an effect a 1 degree change can have on ecosystems around the world. It is also worrying that emissions from years ago are still trapped in the atmosphere and will continue to contribute to climate change even if we were able to achieve carbon neutrality. As many people have mentioned, inequality is a huge trend in terms of economics today. Obviously, at some point we have all read about income inequality as a major problem today. It is extremely unfortunate that emissions from developed nations can vitally affect the livelihood of struggling individuals in developing countries. If more polarizing weather or biodiversity loss do not scare individuals of the consequences of current climate change, an article like this would be important to read in order to gain perspective.
Toggle Commented Mar 29, 2017 on ECON 255 for Thursday at Jolly Green General
While it is clear that natural gas is clearly a suitable substitute to coal in the US, it is troubling that we won't have a complete understanding of the negative externalities for an extended period of time. Emissions per pound are clearly lower than coal, and the natural gas boom has caused dynamic economic benefits throughout the economy. It is a promising sign to see positive transformation for the economy, but hopefully it does not come at the expense of renewable sources of energy.
All three of these articles discuss (fairly obviously) how climate change is a global problem that needs to be faced globally. One country slowing down their CO2 emissions while the rest of the world continues to pollute will have a minute effect on the ultimate outcome. Schrag caught my eye the most when he discussed a scenario where the US has significant cuts and it ultimately had a small effect on CO2 levels in the atmosphere. While this is true, what was most astounding to me was the time when his speech was given. He stated that one goal would be to get rid of high polluting automobiles in 10 years; which would be 2014. He was giving this talk in 2004 with significant evidence of the damage we have already caused the planet. In addition, he states that China and other developing countries would be the biggest problems in cutting back on emissions. The US has made some strides in cutting back, yet now China is a country trying to lead the way in forms of sustainable energy. It is crazy to me that we have had such conclusive evidence for so long, and still, in some cases decline the reality of climate change. The country, as a whole, has had the opportunity to lead the world by creating a concrete plan to reduce emissions and has largely failed.
Toggle Commented Mar 8, 2017 on Econ 255 for next week at Jolly Green General
"Although not novel ideas in themselves, they are novel in the setting of south-western Tobago and the circumstances surrounding Buccoo Reef management." Out of everything, this sentence may have stood out to me the most. There are hundreds of vacations destinations around the world all facing this similar problem of trying to continually grow the economy while still trying to preserve the natural environment that brought the original growth. With all of these different locations, it would be helpful for mutual communication about successful and unsuccessful regulation. No one needs to come up with the newest, best idea every time, but many different ecosystems can use other success stories in order to benefit themselves.
This article is of particular interest to me as I went snorkeling this Summer in the gulf just outside Cancun. My family had gone on this exact snorkel a few years ago and had talked about the wide diversity of fish and wildlife they had witnessed. This past summer, I barely saw any fish at all and they even placed man made statues in the water to take divers in order to have something to look at in case the wildlife was lacking. While the experience was not overly expensive, I would have been happy to pay significantly more than I did just in order to see something not man made. I agree with Rainsford that surveys are not a perfect source of information, but the main takeaway is that these wildlife areas are worth significantly more than just what comes to the eye. When someone is spending thousands of dollars to travel and stay in these destination areas internationally, what is another $50 to most of them in order to help preserve the natural ecosystem.
The Krugman article astounded me with the overall acceptance of the Redefining Progress statement on climate change as well as the slight shrugging off of the importance of GDP. While all the articles had convincing arguments and points, this one stood out the most, in my opinion. Receiving support from thousands of economists is mind-blowing, as many economists seem to disagree over little nuances or issues within seemingly every paper. The incredible support given to these 5 economists demonstrates the importance of the growth of this sector and its ultimate importance to the entire field of economics as a whole. In terms of the meat of the article, Krugman states that GDP, while important in many metrics, is not the perfect measure of economic well being. For example, increased pollution taxes may decrease overall GDP, (while helping out with other forms of taxation) yet can still cause a drastic societal benefit that is completely ignored by an output based metric like GDP. I feel as if sometimes economists can become somewhat GDP-centric, and will therefore ignore some of the externalities surrounding the attempt to maximize output. The acknowledgment of the imperfections of GDP is extremely valid and represents many of the problems that face our society dominated by many growth and output based metrics.