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Yishu Liu
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I really like ideas behind cap and trade or carbon tax, I think one or both are necessary and will be implemented in the future. However, the question is, how would it be implemented and regulated? For example, how do companies calculate how much carbon they are releasing into the atmosphere? Who is responsible for enforcing and regulating firms’ actions? Are individual companies responsible for reporting how carbon they emit? If so, what are the consequences if firms misreport? In addition, I think the article briefly touched on the impact of a carbon tax on low income families. How would low income families afford the increase in price of energy related good that are absolutely necessary for daily life? I would say this is a very important issue for United States to consider. Especially with U.S. economy and policies today, such as the high income inequity, and partial social society available. The article mentioned Norway as one of the countries with a successful use of a carbon, but Norway also have more policies in place to help people with low income. I don't think implementing carbon tax and removing income tax will be enough to supplement and make up for the higher expenses for low income family. I think a portion of the money needs to go to improve our current social security to make sure that a carbon tax is not crippling a whole family.
Toggle Commented Mar 30, 2016 on ECON 255 for next Thursday at Jolly Green General
Every time I read papers about environmental history and how the science/evidence is right in front of our faces, yet no actions are taken, I always feel distressed and lose hope in the world. “Confronting the Climate Energy Challenge” suggested three main action plans. I will be assessing the possibility and progress on those plans. The first one is the reduction of energy demand. It really means reducing energy usage of things we do today. In order to do so, we need more research and development to make the technology needed to be more efficient. However, R&D costs money, companies are unlikely to invest money and time into building a new technology unless they see the need/demand for it in the future. Such signal will have to come in the form of a government mandate and/or public sentiments for the desire to change. The general public cares more about being more energy efficient today, which is a good start, but not enough progress has been made. The second solution is non-Fossil Energy systems. Basically, renewable energies. This is one area where actions to mitigate climate change are visible. As we talked about in class, several states are utilizing renewables. In addition, as part of 2009 Recovery Act, money was invested into energy efficiency and renewable energy research. So progress is actually being made here. The last suggestion is carbon sequestration. The cost of carbon sequestration is incredibly expensive and the technology is not fully developed. In my opinion, I think rather than relying on man made carbon sequestration, we should preserve more peatlands and wetlands which naturally sequesters carbon. Overall, outlook is not very clear. Actions are needed like 10 years ago…
Toggle Commented Mar 16, 2016 on ECON 255 for next Thursday at Jolly Green General
I found this article to be incredibly well written and detailed, even if it is a bit outdated. In particular, the cost per kWh of coal externalities is stated to be 17.84 cents, with low range of 9.42 cents and high range of 26.89 cents. My understanding is that this cost does not include the market price of coal at the time. To put things in perceptive, the current cost of electricity in all of US averages to about 10 cents per kWh, with ranges between 7.86 cents per kWh (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas) and 21.22 cents per kWh (Alaska and Hawaii). The data I am using is from the US Energy Information Administration of December 2015 and does not specific the cost electricity from coal alone. On the other hand, the current cost of electricity from geothermal renewable sources is about 6 cents per kWh on average. It makes more economic sense to be using electricity from renewable sources just based on cost alone, even without the externalities. I am curious to know if coal’s contribution to CO2 levels are still at 81% of all CO2 emissions in US today. I would guess the percentage might be lower today because fewer coal plants are in production today than in 2005. This article is a very interesting and mind boggling read for me. The thought of writing a research paper to the depth that the author went into is daunting. I totally understand why the authors would not want to do an update on this analysis. I was blown away by the level of detail the authors included in the externality of coal. In class, we talked about the main externalities from energy usage, which are changes in air quality, ecosystem, groundwater quality. Alternatively, the paper used economic, human health, environment, and other as categories of externalities and looked for effects in those categories in every step of the life cycle of coal. The amount of research and level of detail the authors went into is eye-opening. For example, they listed “Loss of income from small scale forest gathering and farming (e.g., wild ginseng, mushrooms) due to habitat loss” under economic effects of coal mining, which is not something we would usually associate or think about with economic effects of coal mining. Although, coal has a leg up against renewable energies due to its massive supply and wide distribution network.
Toggle Commented Mar 9, 2016 on ECON 255 for Thursday at Jolly Green General
The Biodiversity Conservation article does an excellent job explaining and highlighting the importance of biodiversity. Like the article says, biodiversity “provides numerous essential services to society” from material goods, underpinning functions, to nonmaterial benefits like recreation. The paper goes on to assess the current and past efforts at biodiversity conservation. Even though worldwide conservation efforts have increased, biodiversity is still declining. One reason from this occurrence could be due to geographical differences. Conservation efforts could have increased significantly in more developed countries like the United States or Netherlands, which would increase the average worldwide conservation efforts. However, for developing countries with economies that rely on exporting material goods from areas with high biodiversity, the demand to cut down trees and make a living is still present, if not increasing. Biodiversity conservation efforts are stemmed in these countries because they create a conflict of interest for locals and raise the opportunity cost of conserving biodiversity. Together, the two different reactions to biodiversity conservation create the dichotomy of increasing conservation efforts with declining biodiversity One of the solutions or priorities the authors suggested to stop global loss of biodiversity is “to manage biodiversity as a public good”. I think the theory and intent before the idea is good, but the real life application of this solution is hard to achieve. The definition of a public good is something that is non-excludable and non-rivalrous. Fresh air is our go to example of a public good. Biodiversity is built on ecosystems that provide material goods to society or locals. I don’t think biodiversity can be a public good because the opportunity cost from the loss of biodiversity, e.g. cutting down a tree, is material and does reduce someone’s ability to cut down a tree. In addition, as the writers addressed, biodiversity does not have immediate impacts or one specific actor that it can traced down to. The combination of factors make me think that rebranding biodiversity conservation as a public good will not solve the problem, and the solution could be found in local changes or policies rather than worldwide statistics.
Toggle Commented Mar 2, 2016 on ECON 255 for Thursday at Jolly Green General
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Jan 21, 2016