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Xiaoxiang Yang
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Same as many other people, I really enjoyed Prof. Greer's talk because of the large amount of her evidence she used in order to back up her claim that the CO2 level has been rising rapidly since the postindustrial era and the global warming is becoming a more and more serious problem. She used lots of graphs to compare the trends of the CO2 level and global temperature. And she also drew information from her own research to illustrate how those geological evidence has been obtained. Near the end of the presentation, the stories about how temperature changes affect European's normal life and how CO2 level can affect the ocean currents behavior make me believe the large effects of these environmental changes on people's well-being. However, as we all know, the public opinion is still largely divided regarding the topic of global warming. People are still arguing about whether or not human's modern behaviors affect the CO2 level. Therefore, I would be very interested to see on Thursday the reasons that people on the other side of the debate have. Do they have a lot scientific evidence to show that human behaviors do not relate to the global warming? Or are their arguments mostly philosophical ones? I would like to see both sides of the debate in order to have a much better understanding of this issue.
Toggle Commented Mar 25, 2015 on Climate Talk at Jolly Green General
I remember in the paper "The Role of Incentives for Sustainable Implementation of Marine Protected Areas", the author mentions that people living in those marine protected areas have the choice to participate in either fishery or agriculture. As a result, I would really like to see the relationship between those two activities. Will the existence of one of them affect the environment for the other? And how do people actually make choices between those two activities?
Toggle Commented Mar 11, 2015 on For Thursday at Jolly Green General
This research paper not only provides many valuable information on the economics about the Marine Protected Areas, but also raises several very interesting ideas. For example, the author creates a model to study the effects of three different programs (1. Changing fishing technology, 2. Using law enforcement to prohibit fishing activities, and 3. Introduce alternative agricultural activities) on fishmen's behaviors and the economic welfare of those villages. I am really surprised to see how the author is able to simplify such a complex system and analyze some qualitative results. Therefore I think this paper introduces some very useful analysis tools for studying MPAs. However, one of the doubt I have regarding this research is whether or not the author simplify this situation too much. For example, when he tries to study the effects of those programs on different villages, he differentiate those villages simply by their locations. But I suspect there are many more factors that can possibly influence the results, such as the villages' equipment and technology endowment, the population composition, and etc. And also when he concludes that the law enforcement can only eliminate the mixed or agricultural villages from fishing, but have little effects on the fishing-only villages, he can also try to provide more reasons for this phenomenon, or develop subsequent researches to test this hypothesis. At the end of the paper, after discovering the limitations of these three programs, he can also try to suggest some alternative ways to improve the sustainability of the MPAs without damaging the welfare of those villages.
Toggle Commented Feb 11, 2015 on Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
This paper is very interesting in the way that it uses the non-market valuation techniques to study the monetary value of marine biodiversity, especially the coverage of coral reef and the existence of sea turtles, to scuba divers in Barbados. However, I do have several questions regarding the methods used in this research. First of all, as mentioned by Jerry above, a group of 165 wealthy scuba divers who came from US and UK can potentially be a very biased sample that is also very small. Since as shown in the paper, the utility derived by individuals has both a deterministic value and a random component, this small sample size makes the quality of the results shown in this paper very debatable. Besides that, researchers only assess the monetary values of these different objects through surveys instead of also carrying out corresponding programs. As most people probably already realize, people's actual behaviors tend to be different from the ones they indicate on survey or in interviews. Therefore, whether or not these surveys reflect the true values of the biodiversity in those scuba divers' mind is not certain. At last, near the end of the paper authors also suggest to use the 'payment for environmental services' PES scheme to compensate fishermen for protecting marine biodiversity. However, how difficulty it is to carry this program out, and how effective it will be in real life are also very interesting questions that are worth further investigation.
Toggle Commented Jan 28, 2015 on Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
I definitely agree with Garrett Hardin's notion that overpopulation is a problem that cannot be solved simply by technological advancement. Technological advancements can only increase the endowment of the commons. But as the population continues to grow, all available resources will eventually still be used up. And because the population tends to grow geometrically, in the long run, people's quality of life will tend to decrease at a even faster pace as the increase in capacity of the commons created by new technologies cannot keep up with the increasing population growth rate. Therefore, it leads to his suggestion that the only way to control the population growth is to implement a mutually agreed coercion. This can be achieved by either enforcing a law to remove the commons in breading or internalizing the costs of over-breeding through some economic incentives such as taxes. Even this suggestion might sound immoral, it actually might be the only way to stop over-breeding and maintain a certain level of living quality. In factor, such methods might have already been used in some countries in the past. For example, in China, government has established a law over the last several decades specifically saying that families who have more than one child will be fined and parents can even lose their jobs. Not surprisingly, this harsh law indeed successful slowed down China's population growth. Thus, I think this argument comes down to a moral level. It depends on whether we think it is ethical or not to restrict people's certain rights in order to preserve the benefits to everybody. Hence, this coercion must be mutually agreed on by every member in the society.
Toggle Commented Jan 21, 2015 on Readings for Thursday at Jolly Green General
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Jan 20, 2015