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KT Hensler
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This semester I learned how to be optimistic about the state of the world in regard to climate change. The feasibility to improve many problems in our country and others with all of the economic and policy tools we have discussed helped me to become more positive. Coming into this class, I will admit, I had a pretty negative outlook on the future of our planet. I still don’t trust our current leadership in politics will be the one to make the positive change through the economic tools we learned about, but that is not a permanent factor. It is a bad time in the climate change crisis to have such leadership, however, I have faith our country will learn from its mistakes and realize how dire the need is for sustainable and renewable practices. The potential for technological changes and advances towards a sustainable future had always seemed to be a dream from what I learned. Now it appears to be more plausible than I had ever known. I honestly did not have anywhere near the faith I have in the human race before taking this class. I am grateful for what I learned and what this class taught me, and I will take it with me going forward in life… evolve into an advocate for climate change optimism.
Toggle Commented Apr 22, 2020 on ECON 255 Final Exam at Jolly Green General
I thought the Stanford assessment of the Green New Deal was very helpful in understanding the steps to follow a plan so extreme. I found it most interesting to look at the research compilation that Mark Jacobson had provided. https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/100Pct-WWS-Papers.pdf http://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/TownsCities.pdf This article particularly stood out to me as it had specifics regarding cities in the United States. Jacobson estimated a Business-as-Usual (BAU) for 53 towns and cities, before the whole sector would be electrified. Then, by using an example set of clean, renewable technology he applies them to the demand for energy… I’m slightly rusty on the understanding of how he did this, but the results are awesome. Wind, water, and solar (WWS) have been shown to keep the demand for energy 100% stable or extremely close. Ultimately, Jacobson estimates resulting energy costs, air pollution costs, climate, and job creation/loss for the WWS versus BAU systems. I picked out Philadelphia, DC, and New York City to see how their end-use load decreased. Phil: -51.8% DC: -67.0% NYC: -47.2% Two cities in Louisiana (New Orleans and Abita Springs) had a percentage decrease of over 70%. Jacobson really covered just about everything any one person debating against climate policy and its feasibility needs to know. He even calculated the amount of available roof space for solar panels in each of the 53 cities (NYC has about 115 square km of rooftop suitable for PV panels). All of the hate articles and journalists that are anti-GND are simply stubborn and do not want to believe what the science is telling them. I highly recommend they give any of Mark Jacobson’s research articles a look. (Jacobson et al. 2018)
Toggle Commented Apr 14, 2020 on ECON 255: The Green New Deal at Jolly Green General
As many people have mentioned already, the fact that the EPA would suspend fines and penalties for polluting during this crisis shocked me. The article highlighted multiple ways in which the social cost of citizens would increase as a result of the lack of regulation. It is no secret that air pollution increases risk of asthma, respiratory disease, cardiovascular problems, and even pneumonia. It is also no secret that people with these health issues are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. Something is not adding up. The entire world’s economy is down, and I find it hard to understand why our country is prioritizing the economy over these obviously detrimental pollutants. I tried to find historical data on the air quality index of the United States, but I did end up finding a hard to understand visual towards the bottom of this page: https://aqicn.org/map/usa/ . Air quality around the world has been shown to be improving, but when I looked at this diagram, it seemed as if the United States had a huge increase in air pollution between Feb 2019 and last month. The March differences don’t show much improvement either. What I’ve gathered from the quick research I did on AQI, is that the amount our pollution has decreased is incremental to the amount that will now be produced with relaxed enforcement. I believe that air pollution enforcement should be prioritized before the economic comfort of the firms doing the polluting. Or if it’s a matter of protecting the workers themselves, I believe that should be addressed within the firm itself. Healthcare and other front-line corporations have in place safety restrictions to keep the workers protected from COVID-19. It would be interesting to see if our nation could be convinced that pollution enforcers and people who work to keep the AQI down in this country are (or should be) on the front line fighting the pandemic from a different angle. The risks are significantly less than those of healthcare workers, but the impact these restrictions would have on the death toll from this virus would be massive. I especially took note of Mikki’s statistic regarding 16-20% of patients in ICU care. Pollutants are much harder to trace from diseases than viruses, but if all those patients are at risk of permanent lung damage, now is not the time to increase their risks even more.
KT Hensler is now following Caseyj
Mar 6, 2020
There was a lot of information in this article that was familiar to me, however, I wish to learn more about. In terms of the comment that, “today’s Appalachian coal mining is undeniably resulting in loss of aquatic species, many of which will never be known” (p 84), I wish to know if there is any way economists measure the lost opportunity of unknown species or biodiversity. Even if this measurement wouldn’t stand strong in a political sense, I think it is an interesting situation. After reading about the risk assessment performed by the NRC in Kentucky, I was interested in trying to find out what the annual costs of my home state, Pennsylvania, are. I struggled to find anything that had as definite a monetary value as the KY one. The PA 2018 risk assessment for coal mining mentioned costs of things such as transportation, impoundment failure due to seepage, embankment weakness and undermining and resulting in flooding. But, nothing about the health effects of the surrounding communities. There was a small section for CO2, but nothing that considered or measured SO2 as far as I could find. (https://pahmp.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Chapter-4-Risk-Assessment-Human-made-Hazards.pdf) The article continued to mention that these assessments are often underestimations of the real costs, in the case of KY, 3 times lower than what multiple models would predict otherwise. This made me think about my Env Policy and Law class and how in so many environmental policy decisions, it is difficult to find politicians that will support the upper end of the range. Another point that I found really interesting was that, “the economic losses from harmful algal blooms are estimated to be over $82 million/year in the United States, based on the most prominent episodes” (p 87). If these costs are taken into consideration, I wonder what potential remediation or prevention would look like. These environmental costs add so many more negative health impacts than the air quality of surrounding communities. The health effects from HABs are entirely different than the respiratory illnesses that are focused on in the coal impact assessments. I wonder, is there a line that is drawn where corporations would never be expected to internalize the costs of health effects? If so, where would that line be drawn and how would one come to that decision?
Toggle Commented Mar 6, 2020 on Discussion Paper for Friday at Jolly Green General
My initial reaction when I began reading this article was that a price raise from $3 to $20 is already so much, how much higher could they raise it from 2017-now? As I continued to read, however, noticing the demographics of the tourists that visit Belize, it makes more sense that the average willingness to pay is around $30. My thoughts right now are how does this WTP price compare to places where the demographics are more diverse? Traveling to tropical places can be expensive, which would limit the people being surveyed. Island Beach State Park in New Jersey also has a conservation plan, but it from what I remember, I did not have to pay anywhere close to $20 to visit. In the examples of previous WTP studies, there are a lot of prices that are “up to $x”. I couldn’t stop thinking about the lower end of those spectrums. In a place such as Island Beach State Park, or other local conservation efforts that have minimal to no funding, how would one of these studies be helpful? I would expect a raised price to seriously hurt the income of a US conservation location. This could be my still-developing economic thinking process, but I am very interested in seeing something with a more demographically diverse group surveyed.
I found that Krutilla is very optimistic in regard to the “learning-by-doing” concept and that technological progress can compensate for depleting natural resources. While I appreciate his discussion about preserving natural spaces and species for future research opportunities, I find it hard to believe that there are policy makers in this day and age, especially in the United States, who will think this far into the future. He used a quote from Davidson, Adams, and Seneca to explain the “learning-by-doing” concept, but from what I read, it seems as if this example was only supportive of recreational water activities. To extrapolate that and use it to support his comments about “grand scenic wonders” seems slightly forced in my opinion. I did find the fact that the subscribers to World Wildlife Fund are not expected to visit the wonders and species in which they are supporting. I believe the option value to be true to a certain extent. Monetizing the value of having an option to visit a scenic wonder is so difficult. This, on top of all the natural environmental research he claims is necessary for a policy decision seems to be very time consuming. On another note, I am very interested in seeing models of the functions Krutilla discussed throughout the journal article. He mentioned transformation functions, present and future demand of natural resource functions, and others.
When Coase discussed nuisance laws and how they were used in court when a harm such as sound or smell was involved, I thought back to my Environmental Policy and Law course about how those hearings so often result in no compensation for those affected by the nuisance. It is almost as if, the cost for a person who is uncomfortable with a sound or smell is higher than that particular nuisance. The actions and time taken to have a hearing regarding airplanes flying over a neighborhood are much more costly and ineffective. Although there are more manageable nuisances, I believe that the legal process is incredibly costly. Another point that stood out to me was when Coase stated that compensating people whose woods were burnt by train sparks was “not necessarily desirable” (29). This is a very specific situation, but I am confused as to what he meant buy such vague language. No tax or cost in general is desirable. He also used the example that a farm owner would be more likely to receive compensation for burnt land than simply a person with trees in their yard. It seems so difficult to gain leverage as a person with trees in their yard because of how difficult it is to monetize a few backyard trees. On a final note, I agreed with Coase when he stated that taxes equal to the amount of harm are not given to those harmed as compensation. This seems to me as a large contributor to the compensation problem. Firms can be taxed to balance out the harm in general, but those harmed are still being harmed despite the taxes paid. I would like to know more about the reasoning for choosing to pay a governmental tax over compensation to those harmed.
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Jan 15, 2020