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Grant Przybyla
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I watched Professor Greer’s lecture earlier in the year for my ENV-110 class with Professor Cowgill as well. Both times, I found it to be incredibly useful, and I very much appreciate Professor Greer’s ability to make a complicated issue easily understood, without sacrificing any key facts. I would also like to voice my frustration with media outlets and how they continue to make it sound as if there is still a debate over whether or not climate change is occurring. The vast, vast majority of scientists recognize that anthropogenic climate change is occurring. I trust these scientists, and I am not sure why news sites attempt to keep the American populace uneducated about the matter. Sadly, the only major media outlet I know of that has approached the matter well did so jokingly. As Professor Casey mentioned in class a few weeks ago, there is a skit on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight where he pretends to host a debate on climate change that is actually “fair and balanced.” He brings in two scientists – one to argue each side of the “issue”. Then ninety-so more scientists walk into the room... A quick Google search reveals that about 61% of Americans believe that “there is solid evidence that Earth’s average temperature has been getting warmer over the past few decades” (source: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/23/most-americans-believe-in-climate-change-but-give-it-low-priority/). I find it astonishing that this number is so low, and on Thursday I would be interested in having a conversation where we discuss various ways to raise this number.
Toggle Commented Mar 25, 2015 on Climate Talk at Jolly Green General
I would like to talk more about the deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon. Particularly, deforestation as a result of cattle ranching and soy bean production, and how foreign demand and the price of beef and soy have affected deforestation rates. This is something that I have been covering in my ENV-110 class that I have found interesting and I believe a more in-depth conversation would be useful, especially one that involves data and models to understand the relationship between deforestation and foreign demand.
Toggle Commented Mar 11, 2015 on For Thursday at Jolly Green General
This article highlights many of the real world problems that many theories and plans on paper may not account for. As can be seen by this case study in Tanzania, while it is easy for one to say, “fish stocks can be protected by creating no fishing zones,” (or other marine protected areas) implementation of these ideas can be more difficult. Here, as in other places, locals are heavily dependent on these fish. While protecting the stock of fish is in everyone’s best interest in the long run, it creates many difficulties for these locals in the short run. As the article points out, incentives must be created and implemented in order to provide these locals with a new livelihood. This is where difficulties often arise. The question arises: what incentives do we provide and how? There is no easy answer to this question. We can say, however, that these incentives must be more attractive than their alternative – in this case, fishing. Thus, these incentives must be very large in order for a population to change, in some cases, their entire way of living. I agree with the article that in these cases, the “carrot” will be far more affective than the “stick.” While the article makes progress figuring out which “carrots” work best, there is still much progress to be made in this field.
Toggle Commented Feb 11, 2015 on Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
I found the results of this paper fairly unsurprising. That scuba divers in Barbados (and most likely in other areas as well) value an experience where they witness living coral and significant amounts of marine diversity seems obvious – these are the principle reasons why people scuba dive. I also think that it is unsurprising that these divers were by and large willing to pay more for a better experience. Looking at the characteristics of those who responded to the survey, we find that “the sample was generally affluent and well educated” (p32). As we have mentioned in class, willingness to pay is a function of ability to pay. When the sample group is able to pay more for a better experience, it is unsurprising that the sample group was also willing to pay more for a better experience.
Toggle Commented Jan 29, 2015 on Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
When Hardin wrote the Tragedy of the Commons in 1968, the world's population was far smaller, our technology less advanced, and our ability to produce food far less efficient. Even assuming that technological gains continue in the agricultural field, which, I think, is a safe assumption, the fact still remains that we cannot produce an infinite amount of food, and therefore can only sustain a finite population. One of the main points Hardin discusses is Bentham's goal of "the greatest good for the greatest number." As Hardin points out, we cannot maximize both variables here (population and quality of life) at the same time. If we focus solely on producing more food to allow for more people, then the overall quality of life decreases for most people as problems of overcrowding, poverty, and scarcity set in. Given these restraints, I think it is better to focus on maximizing quality of life instead of quantity. I therefore agree with Hardin, and believe that it is prudent to legislate temperance. While it does seem preferable to not have government policies restricting the number of children a couple can have, I believe that China’s introduction of such a policy in the late 1970s was ultimately a very good decision that prevented, or at least lessened, starvation and famine. I also agree with Hardin on the other points he makes that are not population based, but similar in concept. For example, while it seems wonderful that the US allows unrestricted visiting to National Parks, I believe that it would be more beneficial to partially restrict access in some way in order to ensure their preservation.
Toggle Commented Jan 21, 2015 on Readings for Thursday at Jolly Green General
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Jan 21, 2015