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Patrick Sullivan
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I think the most important thing that I have learned in this class is the feasibility of attacking all of the issues we have discussed. I took this class a a way to challenge myself and learn about a topic that I really had no experience in and wanted to learn more. Throughout discussions and reading assignments I began to understand just how attainable some of these ideas really are. While I did not agree with all the proposed plans, I think most of them changed how I thought about climate and environmental issues as a whole. This class was insightful and challenged me every day, I enjoyed it.
Toggle Commented Apr 21, 2020 on ECON 255 Final Exam at Jolly Green General
The part of this article that resinated with me the most is the neurological power of nature, particularly the ocean. As a swimmer it reminded me a lot about the arguments surrounding outdoor and indoor training and the benefits of both. I would tend to agree that the outdoors have some sort of "healing" powers and reminded me of an article i read about a professional swimmer about a year ago that I will link in the post. https://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/news/michael-andrew-thriving-with-sunshine-training/ The open spaces and sunshine i think could absolutely have a positive impact on people and their mental state. Some of my fondest training memories come from training outdoors in high school. I feel like the mix of sunshine combined with the South Carolina heat made hard work more bearable and fun. I know most of this is antidotal and isn't necessarily backed by science currently, but i think it is a good thought experiment. Do we actually feel better while outdoors? or do all we need is a change of pace and perspective every once in a while?
The Green New Deal is obviously a highly contentious proposal as it rightfully should be. I can't imagine any situation in which such drastic changes to our normal human activity would not be met with strong pushback. To insinuate that those that are arguing against this proposal are unreasonable and idiotic is not what will push this over the edge. Wording, as John Oliver explained, is crucial. How you present an idea is critical to how it will be perceived and judged by public figures. Some ideas in the plan, I believe, are clearly more feasible than others and those should be pushed forward. Renewable energy, cleaner travel methods, and infrastructure improvements, these are the ideas that should be seriously pursued. As the proposal went on, it seemed to become less and less about environmental issues, and more about societal ideology that was open for criticism. Obviously the outcome of these ideas would be beneficial to society but I think that packaging by AOC was all wrong. While I highly question the true motivation of AOCs proposal, I think there is no doubt that she rushed this bill out and its lack of concrete ideas is worth being criticized. Just as we criticize the president for stating his ideas without any concrete plan in place sometimes, i think it is fair to put this "proposal" under the same microscope. I agree with a lot of what Noah said in his post as well. This bill was about a lot more than just climate change and was spun by both democrats and republicans to fit some narrative that they were purporting. Obviously there are some helpful ideas within the proposal but the execution of it was questionable to say the least.
Toggle Commented Apr 15, 2020 on ECON 255: The Green New Deal at Jolly Green General
Mind over matter professor. Never forget it.
Toggle Commented Apr 10, 2020 on Mindful Reminder at Jolly Green General
Obviously I think that all of these articles are extremely optimistic and show that not everything is doom and gloom on the horizon. Another thought that went through my mind while reading these articles is the impact that this global pandemic will have on our global society and how we conduct ourselves. Watching TV constantly over these past few weeks i have noticed myself being hyper sensitive to the hygiene practices of characters and actors on TV shows. Little things that never bothered me before now seem monumental and important. I guess what i am trying to say is that maybe this will change the way we live and the way conduct interactions with each other in the future. Maybe we will not be so willing to fly across the country, or world, to conduct that business meeting. Maybe we would rather do it via skype or our beloved zoom instead, lessening the emissions impact of air travel. While this transition obviously could have consequences we will not know about until the future, i think it is an interesting thing to think about in the wake of these weird times. Maybe everything that comes out of this won't be so bad.
Toggle Commented Apr 3, 2020 on ECON 255: Good News at Jolly Green General
I think the article assigned was gripping and attention grabbing to the issue at hand, but should be looked through a contextualized lens. I think we can all agree that the release of carcinogens into the air is a bad thing and in normal times we should try and cut down on these at all costs, but these obviously are not normal times. I think it is important that we understand the crippling situation most business are facing in the face of this global pandemic. I think the goal of the Presidents administration was to lessen the financial burden faced by companies during these next few months. With the decrease in overall travel, coupled with the laxed EPA policies, there may still be a decrease in pollution into the atmosphere during these quarantine times. I could not find any data on this subject but think it would be an interesting statistic to look at over the next few months. I think this also provides a unique opportunity for the country and the world to catch its breath. This situation will undoubtably change the way we live forever but the question is, how much it will. I think that this could be the catalyst the world needs in order to combat health, and environmental issues head on, and create alternative production/administration methods moving forward. In short, don't lose hope.
The second article I think is the most pressing in our current situation. Individuals who are more susceptible to airborne diseases such as particulate matter are at increasing risk due to pollution and we are seeing the consequences. These weak respiratory systems are clearly being seen to be a cause for concern in public health with the rise of COVID-19. Those that are born with respiratory conditions are being pummeled by this disease while those who weren’t are strong and healthy. If we clean up the air creating cleaner living conditions for children and adults than we can better protect ourselves from the rise of pandemics such as this. We are now living in a state where we are suffering from these weaker immune systems due to the rise in pm in local communities. I feel that when we look back at this disease and subsequent ones to follow, we are going to see how much these poor living conditions actually effect human health. While these diseases are strong and deadly the conditions and health hazards that we have created are making the situation with COVID-19 exponentially worse. Sorry for the lack of depth but the Coronavirus is taking up a lot of my mental capacity.
Toggle Commented Mar 12, 2020 on 3 short papers for Friday at Jolly Green General
The methods of discerning the cost of an externality are obviously monumental in nature and make it hard to come to a conclusive result. There are numerous factors that go into being able to accurately and sufficiently quantify the cost of an externality such as coal mining, and the effects it has on numerous parts of human/natural life. Pollution, health hazards, and economic impacts all must be accounted for when it comes to valuing the cost of an externality, but can they be weighed the same? Each individual’s unique utility is the main driving force behind environmental economic valuation. What one person values and takes to be a main pro or con of an externality will be drastically different from that of someone else. Some will want better health benefits and in turn will value those portions of the externality higher than the others. Some may want greater economic benefit, even if it hurts their health. I feel that in order to fully understand the true cost of an externality, you must also completely understand the individual and their preferences. I think this is the main hiccup when it comes to policy decisions/policy making. Policy makers priorities and desires may be drastically different from that of the people they represent. The policy advocators may have the same issue as well when it comes to advocating for policies that don’t reflect the citizens views or needs. I think this is the biggest section missing from the method of cost accounting not just coal, but other negative externalities as well. The inability to understand what others value only adds to the hardship of accurately quantifying the cost of an externality. If more precaution was taken in what costs to highlight when presenting information, based on the audience, then policy decisions may be more beneficial and effective for all.
Toggle Commented Mar 5, 2020 on Discussion Paper for Friday at Jolly Green General
The discussion around tourist’s willingness to pay and the impact that would have on tourism is an extremely important conversation to be having in regard to Belize and its economy. As the paper stated, nearly 30% of GDP is accounted for through various activities in the two unique marine biomes. The activity surrounding these biomes makes it extremely important to ensure that they are protected and well looked after in order to safeguard their environmental and economic benefits. The study was conducted in order to decide if the rise in prices matched the rise in consumers’ willingness to pay from the late 1990s. I found it interesting the way the questions were worded and how, in order to escape biased results, the interviewers made sure that certain aspects of the survey were clear. Finding that on average, tourists were willing to pay more for the enjoyment they got from using the biomes was an encouraging result for Belize. This went on to affirm their decision to raise the exit fee to $20 in 2017. This fact was also corroborated due to the increase in total tourist in the following year. Some questions I had about the study result more in their implementation rather than how the data was collected. Was the PACT aware of these results before they made the increase to the exit fee of $20, or was that number arbitrarily decided upon. Along those lines, if they had done the research and discovered that $20 was an appropriate amount, why would they not release those results to back up their decision. I think releasing data that corroborates your policy decision is a good means for stemming any backlash an organization or government may receive for certain policy decisions. Likewise, I think it would be beneficial in the future to progressively raise the cost from year to year or slightly longer. This would go a long way in stemming the tide of anger that comes from raising the exit cost drastically, as happened in 2017. If the price were raised slowly over time, then there would be significantly less uproar over prices and PACT would receive more funds annually. This idea hinges upon the fact that the tourists WTP was not steamrolled, and a reasonable price cap was found at some point in the future.
Krutilla takes an interesting approach to environmental conservation in his work Conservation Reconsidered. While his work asked many important questions, he left the reader lacking in answers. Was that the main intention of his paper, or is the research just not completed enough to give us answers as to minimum levels of each natural resource that we would need. While these questions are crucial to ask, I believe that more concrete answers should be provided unless they are otherwise unavailable. In light of this however, I felt he made some really interesting points as to the future of how we should attack this issue. One of the more interesting, in my opinion, is when he asserts that advances in technology can be a catalyst to more efficient and productive resource depletion. These advances in technology may eventually curb the need to conserve current vital resources, as new alternatives are developed and used by future generations. This can have a multitude of effects on future generations as research will be able to focus on different issues then the ones currently at hand. The contemporary problem is the desire of individuals in the private sector to prioritize these developments in order to conserve the environment. I think the desire to pursue these alternative forms of energy can best be explained by how we value our natural resources. Krutilla makes a compelling point when describing how we can promote environmental valuation. He asserts that if more people participated in outdoor activities, then there would be a greater valuation by citizens to preserve that natural resource. Greater valuation of natural resources by individuals would in turn create more desire, and hopefully more capital, movement towards conservation efforts. While I think his idea is a good starting point, it reminded me slightly of our discussion on moral suasion and how that isn’t very effective on a large scale. Overall these efforts could have profound effects on generations to come and hopefully create a better environment for future humans.
After reading this article, I was constantly thinking back to when I first learned about Coase’s theory in my Microeconomics class. In that class it all seemed so simple and in a perfect world made sense. As we have briefly talked about throughout the beginning of this class, there are many intricacies that also come along with properly handling externalities. The hardest part of dealing with these externalities is deciding who is actually to blame for the cause of them. Coase postulates that it is not solely either parties’ fault in any given instance (Coase 13). While Coase takes fairly simplistic black and white cases to describe his point, I think he makes a sound argument. The issue at hand with Coase's theory is in its contemporary application. The issues at hand in today’s world are wildly different than that of Coase’s. He was not dealing with the radical multifaceted problems that now arise in dealing with externalities. The societal benefits/costs were of less of a concern when he wrote this in the 1960s, than they are now. I think that Coase may now agree with cetain levels of government intervention taking all social and economic costs into account. He would be cautious to say how much intervention should take place but would understand that it is a necessity given our circumstances. Coase interestingly was not even awarded any laurels for his efforts until some 30 years after his theory was published. This just goes to further the point that this piece must be taken in context. Many in the 1960s viewed what Coase theorized as a given or common sense, only later did we come to realize the importance of his theory. As with many economic theories, like the invisible hand, they work in a perfect world. As we get farther and farther from the conception of these ideas and theories, and deeper and deeper into the ever more complex world we live in, the less practical they become. The problem now hinges upon if there is a theory or policy that can wrap a solution in a nice little bow, or must everything be handled on a case by case basis.
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