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Ashley M Johnston
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This semester was very formative for my own personal beliefs and behavior. Learning about the negative externalities of climate change and the costs of not internalizing the costs of our behavior has allowed me to have conversations with my family, and open their eyes to the need for action on the environmental front. The variety of approaches that we learned about helped me communicate to them in an effective and convincing way, and show how this affects everyone. Because of the large impact, there is an ethical dynamic that we much work into our economic models to promote flourishing. Another book that I read, called Braiding Sweetgrass where the author says that “all flourishing is mutual, ” and I think that this class has pointed to that as well. Additionally, this course has opened my eyes to the importance of educated other about these issues. Because of this education through this class has led to several of my own behavior to change, and I think that education is the stimulus to behavior change that we believe in. This has challenged me to look inward, and I think educating others can prompt them to do the same.
Toggle Commented Apr 22, 2020 on ECON 255 Final Exam at Jolly Green General
As I read this article, I remembered the day that Professor Casey showed us the pictures of the bleeding whales on the beach. The message that day was that people respond more to negative images than positive ones. I think this article offers a cool perspective on how to use the wiring of our brain to communicate efficiently and effectively to people. I found myself encouraged and hopeful. Nichols's research finds interesting links between our actions and our environmental awareness. One, in particular, I found interesting was the link between water sports (yay swimming) and environmental interactions. They examine the different environmental attitudes of athletes in blue spaces (swimming, kayaking) compared to athletes in green spaces (mountaineering). I think these connections are important because research like this opens doors to more effective communication and education of environmental issues. If promoting more outdoor sports leads to greater awareness and accessibility to environmental issues, people might actually internalize environmental issues. Link to research articles:
To be honest, I was pretty discouraged while reading this article and kept trying to think of differences in jobs, income, education that might be a greater contribution to the outcome. While I wish that these factors were discussed more, I feel like several underlying problems could be the lack of accurate information, a mistrust in certain media or science, a lack of a drive to critically think through issues, and/or accepting information coming from one source instead of finding out multiple sources and making educated decisions. I wish that people would be open to facts and the circumstances even when it means we have to change our behavior. What is happening here with both COVID-19 and climate change is a rejection of the facts because it doesn’t benefit us. I’m trying to think about how willful ignorance could be added into an economic model, and maybe they don’t want to internalize the costs or even recognize that great costs are falling on others. I don’t know if this makes much sense but these were my first initial thoughts.
A few weeks ago in class, I remember we discussed that the pandemic could have positive effects in slowing down climate change, and potentially allow us to transform systems to be more sustainable. LIke the article said, because travel is limited, emissions are falling, air is clearer, and instead of taking steps forwards to allow the air to remain clear and for emissions to remain low, the government is falling back to bad habits. This reduction in accountability decreases the costs of abatement allowing for an increase in emissions at the lower price. This will result in damages that are much greater than the abatement costs. Even though it would be efficient to reduce emissions, the failure to act will result in exponential more damage than the lower prices are worth. In an article produced by the Week, while grim, parallels the Trump administration's coronavirus response to their response on climate change. Trump has been slow to respond to the threat of Coronavirus which has lead to an exponential increase in infected individuals and deaths. The failure to put in place preventative measures has resulted in hospitals begin overwhelmed and all individuals needing to respond with extreme actions. Preventative measures, while they might not be fun to implement can prevent more extreme measures from being taken down the road in attempts to reverse damage. The same is with climate change. Since we have not taken preventive measures, it is most likely that we will be stuck in a similar situation as we are now- taking the most extreme measures last minute in efforts to reduce the effects of climate change.
What really surprised me in these pieces was specifically from “Air-Pollution Related Illness: Effects of Particles” was that the most harmful particles, the smallest ones, are not regulated, while larger particles are. It seems to me that if there is support to regulate larger particles it should not be that difficult to regulate all particles. Because of the source of the particles coming from transportation, I could see there being resistance from the vehicle and transportation industry. I looked to see if regulation has been imposed since 2005 and fine PM is included to be regulated in the Clean Air Act. However, there does not seem to be a way to enforce the regulations (of course I’ve only done minimal research). The only “enforcement” for states that do not meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards is that they have to produce a plan of how to meet the standards, but there does not seem to be any enforcement of that plan that I could see. Granted these links seem to be about 4 years old, but I can’t imagine enforcing has gotten stricter with the current administration. Because of this lack of action, I’m sure the amount of deaths caused by PM has only increased. The article said that 500,000 people die each year from PM related deaths and it seems that little is being done to counteract this detrimental effect even 15 years later.
Toggle Commented Mar 12, 2020 on 3 short papers for Friday at Jolly Green General
One thing that I thought was interesting was that in Figure 1, the Public Health costs remain the same for the high, medium, and low cost estimates. Signifying that there are clear measurements to determine the impact that coal has on health. I think that it is staggering that when so much damage is so definitely caused that there are not greater efforts to reduce them. Climate change remains difficult to measure, and I was also wondering - How do you account for the cost of potential for damage such as dangerous impoundments filled with waste that has the potential to destroy land, cause illness and death? I think many industries share the risk of catastrophic events and damage to the environment. How are these risks evaluated and calculated in the cost?
Toggle Commented Mar 5, 2020 on Discussion Paper for Friday at Jolly Green General
With the tremendous research on the willingness to pay around the world, were there any studies that resulted in an unwillingness to pay for environmental conservation? Knowing what people are willing to pay is important whether or not it is the answer we want. Exploring the characteristics of results that show unwillingness to pay might help us better approach conservation for those individuals. I think it is interesting how many tourists are likely to return to Belize! Over 90 even with the rising environmental tax. This might reveal that caring for the environment and conservations make vacations more pleasant and desirable. Additionally, what people do on vacations might impact how they are willing to pay. I thought it was really interesting that people who say Mayan ruins had a higher willingness to pay. It might be that people who select into that activity values preservation of historical and monuments higher than those on the beach and this value transfers to marine conservation – or it might be that exposure to preserved wonders might increase people’s willingness to pay because it is a good outcome of preservation. Additionally, if the fees are raised so much that tourism decreases, would this have a positive impact on the conservation efforts because less tourism? What impact do tourists have on the environment over a vacation?
Krutilla’s “Conservation Reconsidered” bundles economic and environmental interests into his piece in a beautiful and thoughtful way. He strategically highlights the uniqueness of natural environments in regards to the market, and why markets fail both in perfectly pricing and in other theoretical novels. One particular quote – “it is impossible to determine whether the market allocation is efficient or inefficient,” stood out to me because we continually study why markets are inefficient in the case of environmental allocation. Krutilla points out that even when we try to fix market failures, the market is so massive and complex, we will never know if we have it right. Another unique feature of environmental economics is that there is no close substitute, and it is impossible to truly replace natural environments/resources after human involvement. The concept of option demand is new to me and I did not fully understand, but would like to talk more about. I think it is appropriate to differentiate the demand for natural resources and environments
Throughout the article, Coase's logic, examples, and explanations highlighted the complexities of familiar economic principles and theories. One thing that surprised me was the relationship between "harmed people" and those that "harm" them. The example of the doctor and confectionist stood out to me since a lawsuit can be avoided if the harmer pays the harmed the cost of the loss as long as the payment is less than the losses that the harmer would take in a lawsuit. The causes the harmed to give up their right to prosecute and allows for harm to persist. In order for harm or damage to be eliminated, both parties' opportunity cost must be considered. Concerning environmental harms caused by firms, I have never seriously considered the necessary conversation that requires the harmed and the harm to discuss both sides' cost. I think that we should consider that not all environmental issues should be solved or harm reduced in the same way. Lawsuits and defining individual's rights to compensation and discussion between parties provide two routes of reducing harm. Depending on the circumstance, we need to have in mind that each battle needs a different strategy.
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Jan 16, 2020