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Ryan Ellis
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Out of all the solutions for improving biodiversity presented in this piece, economic and noneconomic, I have to agree with the notion of decreasing the knowledge gap, especially amongst individuals who would show a genuine interest in helping the cause. Most secondary education in the US requires scientific courses to be taught such as environmental studies and biology. Where this education is lacking is explaining degradation as a primary topic. By educating individuals from an early age about the ramifications of harmful environmental practices and how species extinction plays a role in those harms, the need for change will be engrained to a large audience at an early age. Economically, the behavior of actors can be predicted from models and trends, but in order to raise awareness of biodiversity degradation, formal schooling is necessary. This is not by any means a short term solution, but this will ensure a much broader range of thought that cannot be achieved through policy changes and economic reform.
Toggle Commented Mar 3, 2016 on ECON 255 for Thursday at Jolly Green General
As many have previously mentioned, the fact that SCUBA divers have high willingness to pay for less crowding and higher coral cover is pretty obvious, especially considering the selected divers were on average fairly experienced divers (>6 yrs of experience). What interested me most was the differentiation between coral cover and crowded diving areas. What the article seemed to dismiss is that these factors are directly related. More coral cover provides more space for divers to explore the reefs, unless there are highly active areas that divers visit more often and in greater numbers. Furthermore, as the article mentions, less experienced divers generally prefer there to be more crowded diving spots because they feel more comfortable with more experienced divers around them. If the primary issue surrounding these reefs is to raise tourist attraction, wouldn't having a larger number of divers, especially new divers, generate economic growth? As counter intuitive as it sounds, If this is the case, then one could argue that more crowded reefs, regardless of coral cover, would be positive. This is a very specific study, sampling a small population of experienced divers that have been visiting Barbados for years. Although the results were statistically and economically significant, what may augment the results is a survey asking individuals how they value the existence or option of visiting Barbados. This will provide an accurate economic summary of how possible future tourists value these reefs.
Toggle Commented Feb 3, 2016 on ECON 255 for next Thursday at Jolly Green General
What struck me most about this paper was Coase’s last section, in which he accepts the fact that the theories and hypothetical situations he describes are occurring in an ideal world. Especially in his argument for social arrangements, we must assume that the actors involved will act rationally and for the least damaging social cost. Unfortunately, as he affirms, this rarely happens in the real world. Executives of firms responsible for environmental harm are profit-seekers, rather than seekers of well-being or social welfare. This alone will drive what we consider irrational decisions that affect not only the area around, say, a polluting factory, but also global climate change. Coase also addresses the difficulty in measuring social cost on a macro scale. Without a firm understanding of the marginal costs involved with pollution, especially air pollution, it is very challenging to provide incentives for firms to stop polluting. All of the numbers in his arguments are strictly hypothetical, although some can indeed be implemented into the real world, such as the herder/farmer example. A single cow or crop can be quantified to a dollar amount, but the possible economic loss of pollution and environmental harm cannot be calculated to a quantitative amount. Because of this, a system in which firms pay for social welfare damages becomes a tall order. Finally, along the same vein of the lack of an “ideal world”, especially in the US, a large number of individuals simply do not believe in the harms brought on by pollution. It is very easy to give examples of nuisances such as smoke and loud noises. It would also be very easy to come to a decision on the best system to omit these nuisances while maintaining economic prosperity, but when the social costs are not immediately seen or heard, the general public will not have any complaints. US citizens generally disagree with the idea that humans are causing the vast majority of climate change, and until that sentiment changes, significant progress on the front of higher social welfare cannot be made.
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Jan 27, 2016