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Alison Peacock
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In part C of Choice on Control Instrument-A Domestic Perspectives, Aldy, Ley, and Parry discuss the cost-effectiveness of the specific fiscal interactions. They talk about how adding a CO2 tax will cause higher energy prices, which in turn will drive up product prices in general. This increase in price will lead to consumers having less purchasing power. The authors believe this could depress labor and capital supply. The final result would be an increase in the costs associated with climate policy. We have discussed this issue in class before. If the government decides to impose a carbon tax, the best way to offset the potential drawbacks associated with this would be to lower income taxes. This way, people have larger disposable income and have the power to decide if they want to spend their additional income on gas or reallocate it to more cost-effective options. Aldy, Ley, and Parry seem to also accept this idea when discussing revenue-recycling effect in comparison to the tax-interaction effect. Dropping income tax creates a higher revenue-recycling effect over the tax-interaction effect, which is why the authors back the idea of a carbon tax. I think for these reasons, a carbon tax is the most efficient way to lower emissions. With a carbon tax and lower income taxes, the economy will not be affected by the higher cost of energy. The only issue with these ideas is the negative connotation of taxes. The public often rejects the idea of increasing taxes. If there was a way to remove the word tax from carbon pricing, it would be easier to gain support for this project, especially if income taxes are also being lowered.
Toggle Commented Mar 30, 2016 on ECON 255 for next Thursday at Jolly Green General
I found the article, “Confronting the Climate-Energy Challenge” by Daniel Schrag very interesting. He lays out his argument in a way that is easy to understand. It is sad to hear that Schrag believes any solution created now will be incomplete because of the damage already done. It is hard to get people on board with solutions because they will take upwards of 50 years to complete. With this long length of time, people feel as though there are more pressing issues we need to address now and that its okay if we think about climate change later, which is not the case. Focusing on adaptation will not cause climate change to go away. Somehow, we need to make it more apparent that pushing off mitigation will only increase the cost of adaptation in the future. It was overwhelming to hear that it would take more than 200 years for terrestrial and oceanic uptake of carbon to restore the atmosphere back to where it was before industrialization, and that is only if we eliminate all of our emissions. It is also difficult to get people on board with mitigation when there is not a specific solution that can be applied to all countries. No country’s energy sources and level of use are the same, so cutting emissions will have a different effect world wide. This is also where the discussion of developing vs. developed countries comes up most often. Countries that are still developing tend to emit more whereas the fully developed countries are able to emit less. This leads to some tensions on who is most responsible for the CO2 emissions already in the atmosphere, and who should cut carbon emissions now. In another environmental studies course, we looked at an article in Rolling Stone, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math” ( Though it was published a few years ago, it still has relevant, interesting information. It puts global warming and climate change into more 3 easy to understand numbers. It explains how we need to stay under a 2-degree Celsius increase of the Earth’s temperature. Anything above a 2-degree increase will be associated with irreversible damage. The next two numbers show the limit of carbon dioxide that the Earth can handle (565 gigatons) and how much carbon we have in coal, oil, and natural gas reserves (2,795 gigatons). The amount of carbon in reserves is five times higher than what scientists believe the world can handle. This further proves the point that we cannot continue business as usual. We cannot continue to use coal, oil, and natural gas and deal with the damages later because it will already be too late.
Toggle Commented Mar 16, 2016 on ECON 255 for next Thursday at Jolly Green General
Like Owen, I am in introduction to biology and bio lab. This week, we took bug samples from woods creek to check the health of the water. Certain species of bugs are more tolerant of pollution in the water while other species can only survive in unpolluted water. By counting the amount and types of bugs within a water source, a ratio can be created to show the health of the body of water. It is interesting to see something we have worked on in lab being applied in the real world even though these results in the study are quite depressing. Another part of the article that stood out to me was the coal combustion waste that is made up of toxic chemicals. These chemicals are known to cause cancer, birth defects, neurological damage, and learning disabilities. With such detrimental effects from being exposed to this compound, I am very surprised that the impoundment ponds where this CCW is held are poorly made. I understand that getting policy through DC that cuts back on coal is very difficult to do, but the regulations on the impoundment ponds should be heightened. The article stated that “1 in 50 residents living in Kentucky, including 1 in 100 children, living near one of the fly ash ponds are at risk of developing cancer as a result of water- and air-borne exposure to waste” (Epstein et al.). With one child out of every 100 children at risk of developing cancer as a result of CCW, something needs to change drastically. On another note, as we talked in class, I learned that the process of converting coal into energy is highly inefficient. If only 1/3 of the coal is used for energy, how come we have not improved this technology? If coal is in such high demand, I would have assumed that there is a high market for more efficient technology in regards to coal.
Toggle Commented Mar 10, 2016 on ECON 255 for Thursday at Jolly Green General
During this article, the authors briefly talk about the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals. These are world-wide goals that each country is encouraged to work towards. In a previous Environmental Policy class, we discussed these goals and the COP 21 talks that occurred in Paris this past December. While these goals are something everyone should strive to achieve, they are almost too general to have a lot of value. The Sustainable Development Goals include goals like Goal #6-Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all and Goal #13-Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. There are no concrete solutions given on how we should reach these goals. In order to make an impact, countries need to make solid, achievable policies. I was wondering if we could go more in depth on the Sustainable Development Goals and what progress has been made with respect to biodiversity. I also would be interested in hearing people’s views on the COP21 talks that occurred last year and if people feel that the talks were successful. After COP15 in Copenhagen, there was some discussion that the talks were not effective and a strong enough agreement was not reached. Is the outlook more positive now? Have we moved forward since then?
Toggle Commented Mar 2, 2016 on ECON 255 for Thursday at Jolly Green General
While spending last spring term in Brazil, I saw firsthand how developing countries suffer from lack of clean water. During the time we spent on the Rio Negro, we would often see piles of trash floating by. The poor infrastructure and sewage facilities that causes high water contamination seem to be a relevant issue with the 2016 Summer Olympics being held in Rio de Janeiro. Though some improvements have been made, it does not sound like the issue has been completely fixed. The Brazilian government claims that the water has passed water quality tests, but these tests only monitor bacterial infections and not viral. Do you think that improvements in infrastructure can be made in time before the Olympics begin? Is Brazil responsible for bearing the full cost of cleaning the water? Or should the Olympic Committee help out?
Toggle Commented Feb 11, 2016 on More Chapters from Kahn at Jolly Green General
After reading the title of this paper, “Recreational SCUBA divers’ willingness to pay for marine biodiversity in Barbados”, I was not surprised that divers value protecting the environment. Their recreational activities are closely intertwined with bio diversity and a healthy marine ecosystem. The difference of preferences between experienced and unexperienced divers is also unsurprising. I would assume that unexperienced divers feel more comfortable around other divers, and as your skill level increases, you are willing to forgo other divers in order to have a more independent experience. Emily made a good point on how one should compare the value of these two preferences. Is there a concrete way to decide whose preferences matter more? Experienced divers would be more willing to pay more to have less crowded dives, so it may be ideal to make certain dive sites only open to divers with a certain level of experience. These dive sites could be more expensive because divers with high skill levels are willing to pay the cost of optimal conditions. I also wonder if the amount of divers in Barbados is big enough to have an effect on the conservation of marine biodiversity. Though the study showed that divers are willing to pay higher costs to have optimal diving conditions, is this willingness enough to encourage policy changes? Divers are still willing to pay for the current diving conditions, so there may be no real push for improvement at the moment. Conservation policy makers need to make this study and other similar studies more known to the public, so they too can begin to understand the opportunity at hand. I believe this ties back to the idea of improving education. The general population needs to understand what cost comes with environmental degradation. By getting this information out there, it will increase the opportunity of gaining support on conservation policy.
Toggle Commented Feb 3, 2016 on ECON 255 for next Thursday at Jolly Green General
Regarding the piece, “Conservation Reconsidered,” I found the notion of option demand very interesting. Krutilla explains this to be a “willingness to pay for retaining an option to use an area or facility that would be difficult or impossible to replace and for which no close substitute is available.” He goes on to say that even if there is no current use for the area or facility, we should still strive to protect it in case a need for it arises in the near future. Though Krutilla points out that there are cases of a market for option demands, it seems like a very difficult concept to quantify. The option value seems more sentimental than a concrete term to use in a market. If we are saving natural resources or protecting certain areas of the world, which we have no current use for, how do we assign a value to that entity? How can we predict the future worth of a product without knowing what the use is? Though I see the validity of his argument, I struggle to see how it is effective in a market setting. The market for retaining an option seems to have faults. While there are private organizations which will purchase land as a way to preserve it, there are high risks when its comes to these types of investments. There is no true way to predict the value of this land in the future, and this absence of knowledge will likely deter many potential investors. Krutilla also discuses the issue with the land being a public good, which people may attempt to eliminate the cost themselves by hoping others will step in to protect the land. Krutilla also goes in depth on the idea that present generations can stimulate demand for recreational activities for future generations. Any resource-based recreational activity increases in value if the present population understands, knows how to use it, and passes this knowledge down to its children. If our current generation can teach the next few generations about these recreational activities, it is more likely that these next generations will be willing to protect the resources. Krutilla explains that “we consider the remote backcountry landscape…as the object of experience and enjoyment, we recognize that utility from the experience depends predominantly upon the prior acquisition of technical skill and specialized knowledge.” If we want the future society to appreciate nature and the recreational services it provides, it falls upon our shoulders to show children how to correctly use it. This is a simple concept to understand, but in my personal experience, I worry that it may be hard to get the future population to indulge in outdoor activities. With younger siblings, it is easy to compare how I spent my childhood and how my 10 year-old and 11 year-old sisters spend theirs. With so much technology at their fingertips, my siblings spend more time inside than outside. I worry that they value technology over nature and what it has to offer. If we hope to keep increasing the value of outdoor activities, we need to be proactive in pushing our children to spend time outside. Coinciding with this, our education system should emphasis the values of natural recourses and conserving nature. If we start teaching the younger population, they will grow into a more informed population, who can then take on the task of protecting the environment as well.
Toggle Commented Jan 21, 2016 on ECON 255 for Friday at Jolly Green General
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Jan 21, 2016