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Walker Morris
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Economics 255 has truly been one of my favorite classes at W I will certainly miss our class (and Zoom) discussions on different topics relating to environmental protection, alternative energy sources, abating our output of carbon and methane, and the effects of policy on the environment. With that in mind, I learned a lot of new information relating to everything from our current political leaders to economic theory, and it is hard to pinpoint the “most important” thing I learned in this class. After thinking about it throughout the day, I have concluded that the most important and lasting lesson from this class is just how important the EPA is to the United States. As we learned, the EPA is crucial to environmental conservation, and efforts to mitigate pollution in our country. Despite this, politicians continuously discuss cutting funding and even eliminating the EPA altogether. President Trump has taken this stance by de-regulating the agency, cutting funding, and even preventing research. While the funding and regulations within the EPA will come and go as administrations do in Washington, the interference with scientific research is very concerning. Research is harmless to economic productivity, but it threats specific agendas that do not prioritize climate change. Interfering with it is extremely costly for future generations as a few years of lost research could accelerate climate change and prevent lawmakers from making important decisions in time. As the years progress and I continue to study economics and public policy, the lessons we learned about the EPA will certainly endure. It is now an agency that the US cannot afford to lose, and perhaps holds the greatest hope for our future. In terms of being a better citizen, I believe that I have become a much more conscious voter and am now more concerned with the future of our country. After all, it is our generation that will bear most of the responsibility for protecting the future of our planet. This class has certainly taught me to vouch for the EPA and our planet if I am ever fortunate enough to be in a meaningful position where I could influence policies, a company, or fellow Americans. On that note, it has been a pleasure to participate in this class, and the lessons learned from our civil discussions on environmental economics and environmental policy will remain on my mind for years to come.
Toggle Commented Apr 22, 2020 on ECON 255 Final Exam at Jolly Green General
John Oliver's very vague description of the United Kingdom's success with carbon pricing drew me to conduct further research on it's policy. Carbon emissions are an issue faced by every country across the world, and very few have found an effective solution to reduce their carbon emissions. Interestingly, policies towards carbon reduction in the UK are fairly conventional and have been applied in many other countries. What has made the UK so successful in reducing it's carbon footprint comes down to three factors: objectives, improvisation, and commitment. First, the UK set a range of different goals regarding pollution, including becoming carbon-neutral by 2050. To ensure that the country reached these goals, they set periodic thresholds to reach before 2050. This approach ensures a gradual transition away from carbon without instantaneously destroying the industry or eliminating the goods that rely on carbon. Establishing a distinct goal, much like the Green New Deal resolutions from 2019 creates a discussion on finding solutions and gives society a clear objective to reach. Next, the UK has faced adversity in it's journey to carbon-neutrality, but it has often responded to this adversity with new policies. For example, during the Great Recession, the EU's cap and trade policy was essentially put on hold as the continent went into a financial crisis. To continue it's efforts against carbon pollution, the UK introduced a price floor on carbon to discourage it's consumption. While price-floors are generally viewed as being very economically inefficient, they actually proved to be fairly effective with a good like carbon. Considering the numerous negative externalities of carbon consumption, the UK decided that it must be reduced at all costs. As seen through the article in John Oliver's video, this has been a success as carbon levels reached their lowest levels since the 19th century. Rather than following the example of other countries and easing it's approach to reaching carbon neutrality, the UK doubled down on it's objectives and introduced new policies to ensure it reached it's energy goals. This reveals the UK's commitment to becoming greener. Rather than creating arbitrary goals that it never intended to reach, the UK created meaningful objectives and carefully implemented a road map to eventually reach these objectives. Thus far, it seems to be working as the country's carbon emissions continue to decrease year after year. As we have seen throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the United States is not often at the forefront of compromise, something that will be inevitable in the fight against climate change. Furthermore, by withdrawing from agreements like the Paris Accords, and creating no meaningful alternative to the proposals of the Green New Deal, the US continues to avoid the inevitable climate policy decisions that will come over the decade or so. The United Kingdom, a close ally of the US with many cultural similarities has shown commitment to reaching it's climate objectives, the United States should follow it's example and generate a meaningful game plan moving forward. This does not necessarily mean implementing the policies of a "Green New Deal", but it certainly means creating something better than the status quo. London School of Economics article on British carbon policy: http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/faqs/what-is-a-carbon-price-and-why-do-we-need-one/ Article cited in John Oliver's Video: https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-uk-carbon-emissions-in-2017-fell-to-levels-last-seen-in-1890
Toggle Commented Apr 15, 2020 on ECON 255: The Green New Deal at Jolly Green General
Patrick Sharkey's article is provides further evidence of one of the greatest challenges facing America as a society. This challenge is swift collective action during times of crisis. Collective action has been a difficulty for the United States since it's founding. During World War II, it took the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the death of over 2,000 Americans for society to unite behind the cause of stopping the global expansion of Nazi Germany and the Japanese Empire. Twenty years later, Americans once again found themselves acting on an issue that was long overdue when millions rallied behind the Civil Rights Movement in the name of racial equality. Both of these examples represent delayed responses to issues that threatened the fabric of our nation. Furthermore, collective action to address these issues led to long-term economic changes. In the case of World War II, the involvement of the United States ensured a definitive end to the Great Depression, while giving millions of women their first genuine opportunity to enter the workforce. The Civil Rights had significant economic impacts as well such as eliminating discriminatory Jim Crow Era laws, ensuring that minority groups could vote, and improving the educational opportunities of millions. The collective action during these times of national crisis led to profound societal changes that have helped shape our modern economy. Despite the great changes that came out of these events, it still took years of hardship and national crises to achieve significant change. For over a month, the United States has faced a new crisis in the form of a pandemic. While a majority of the population has responded by taking quarantine measures and extending help to America's most vulnerable households, it is still not enough. As Sharkey's article points out, millions of Americans have yet to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic in a meaningful way. Unfortunately this puts the entire country, and consequently the entire economy at risk. Choosing not to social distance could ensure that the coronavirus lives on for months if not years. This would mean more unemployment, more death, and less economic productivity; worsening the impending recession that already looms over the United States economy. In order to minimize the economic and health crises that will emerge from the coronavirus, virtually all of America must embrace social distancing, self-quarantining, and good hygiene. If not, catastrophe could be inevitable. Starkey also points out a correlation between Americans who ignore social distancing measure and those who chose to reject the notion of global warming. This only furthers concerns about the future of the United States economy. While I am confident that Americans will inevitably rally against these threats and take collective action to protect our health and future as a planet, the collective response may come too late as it did in World War II and the Civil Rights Era. While the bombing of a naval base and high death counts from a virus have served as wake-up calls for America. There may not be a wake-up call for climate change. Flooding, air pollution, and the extinction of more species could lead to millions of deaths and permanent economic damage not only in the United States, but throughout the rest of the world. This is what makes collective action in the context of climate change so difficult; it requires unity from virtually every country on the planet, something that many nations can't even achieve domestically. Contrary to Sharkey's beliefs, I feel that the global response to the coronavirus pandemic has been the greatest example of international collective action in my lifetime. I am optimistic that collective action in the context of the coronavirus could feed into collective action against climate change. An additional article that I found on Facebook about the impact of the coronavirus on air pollution in the Himalayas: https://www.wsbtv.com/news/trending/coronavirus-himalayas-visible-air-pollution-decreases-across-india/O2B5XSWW2ZCXNFIANWW7MR7K4Q/?fbclid=IwAR0uQRLTwHMWvE3v9uitnUPPpBxunF5md0TEJCMljIMMLrG9SlIXwZhQclw
I found Sophie Kasakove's article to be very thought provoking. While I have driven through Louisiana on several occasions and have seen the numerous chemical plants and other manufacturing centers throughout the state, I was never aware of "cancer alley". A basic knowledge of science and the affects of toxic air pollution inevitably suggests a higher likelihood to cancer exposure in areas with high concentrations of toxic air polluters, but to think that there is a highly populated section of America that has been known as "cancer alley" is astonishing. What is even more shocking is that people have known about the issues within "cancer alley" for decades, and very little has been done in response. In fact, the situation is likely getting worse as more chemical plants open or increase their capacity in the area. Now, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the communities of "cancer alley" have begun to yield higher percentages of Covid-19 cases and deaths than most other parts of the nation. This is entirely a result of the high concentration of pollution in the area, and a broader look at the spread of the pandemic on a national level reveals a pretty strong correlation between the severity of Covid-19 and areas with significant pollution. According to the infamous Johns Hopkins coronavirus data center, many of the top areas for Covid-19 outbreaks are large urban areas or communities with a significant industrial presence. These types of locations are areas that have suffered from air pollution for years; regardless of whether it came from urbanization in cities, or factory pollution in industrial centers. Detroit and the New York City area represent coronavirus hotspots where the outbreak was likely perpetuated by decades of are pollution from the inherent effects of urbanization. New York City in particular has been known to have poor air quality for years, and now the consequences of this are in full effect through the rapid spread of coronavirus in the city. The Mississippi River delta and southern half of New Jersey are examples of areas polluted by chemical plants and factories. These areas have also seen a disproportionate spread of the coronavirus compared to other parts of the nation. As the Vice article points out, this is likely from decades of toxic air pollution throughout these regions. While there has been a lot of discussion about the fact that the coronavirus has temporarily decreased global pollution, it is important to understand that the pandemic benefits from existing air pollution. Cover-19 seems to thrive in areas with heavy air pollution where inhabitants already have weakened respiratory systems, and respiratory illnesses are already abundant. The ongoing global health crisis has humbled many across the globe and will likely change human behavior for years to come. One must hope that the relationship between Covid-19 and air pollution forces society to think again about air pollution and climate change. As horrific as this pandemic is, I am confident and the United States and most of the world will come out of it with a renewed way of thinking. This moment of crisis could be monumental for the future of climate, foreign, and health policy worldwide. Kasakove's article made me think a lot about the spread of coronavirus in impoverished communities and the lack of sufficient health care in these areas. However, what it made me think about the most was the vulnerability of society as a result of toxic air pollution. If the world continues to pollute at an increasing rate, more "cancer allies" will emerge in communities all across the globe.
While I believe that his article is overly optimistic, David Victor's forum response on pursuing innovation with regards to clean coal brings up a potential scenario that we are living through today. Throughout most of the article, Victor evaluates potential methods for generating energy with coal by limiting it's carbon emissions. These include carbon sequestration, and efficiency maximizing production methods. While these approaches to using coal are innovative and enticing, they are also very expensive. For this reason, Victor argues that coal will continue to be the preferred energy source for much of the world unless if oil prices were to drop significantly: "Absent an unlikely plunge in gas prices, coal is here to stay." Today, eight years after the article was written, oil prices have reached their lowest level since the turn of the century. This sharp decrease in the price of oil was caused by a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, and will most likely be temporary. However, the Saudis can drill oil at a very low cost which opens up the possibility of the price war lasting for months or even years. In the unlikely event that the price of oil remains permanently low, it will allow for energy production through oil to be much more attractive than coal. This will motivate many countries and companies to pursue energy production through oil rather than coal. While oil is by not renewable and is by no means a "clean" option, it is still significantly better for the environment than coal. Abandoning electricity production through coal for oil is certainly a move that slow the rate of global warming, but it is not a solution. Furthermore, the law of supply and demand suggests that the price of oil would inevitably rise if more and more countries shift to oil for energy production. Still, the current price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia is important to follow, and could have serious consequences in the realm of energy production and climate change if it persists. Link on the historical price of oil: https://tradingeconomics.com/commodity/crude-oil
As someone who boats fairly frequently in the summer months, the first article about Evoy's new electric outboard motor is fascinating to me. Throughout the years of boating on lakes, I have always noticed the great difference in water quality between the open lake, and the areas in and around Marinas. Growing up, I was always told to never swim in locations where boats fill up with fuel or lay idle for considerable periods of time. This is entirely because of the high concentrations of oil and gas in these areas. While pollution from boats is less concentrated in open parts of the lake, one can only imagine what years of boating can do to the quality of the water. Evoy's electric motors and the electric motors that will inevitably follow won't reverse the course of pollution in lakes, but they will at least reduce the amount of exhaust that contaminates these bodies of water. Much like the electric engine for the automobile, Evoy's electric outboard motor is an example of innovation that will reduce pollution and diminish previous ecological damage.
Toggle Commented Apr 3, 2020 on ECON 255: Good News at Jolly Green General
The economic situation of this article represents an interesting situation. On the one hand, the coronavirus outbreak has caused pollution to decreased substantially from factory closures, fewer commuters, and restrictions in air travel. Conversely, the EPA's easing of regulation on pollution regulation will increase pollution at the same time. I believe that this situation can be best represented by an externality model revealing the marginal social cost (MSC) of pollution which is significantly greater than the marginal private cost (MPC). For the purpose of being specific, this model can be based on the marginal costs and benefits of factory usage in the United States. In a pre-coronavirus world, the model would show that the MSC of the factory is much greater than the MPB. When the outbreak reaches the United States and policies of social distancing are implemented and falling aggregate demand forces factory production to diminish, the MSC curve will shift leftward. This is because the negative effects of pollution will decrease as many factories will produce less materials. However, with the EPA deciding to ease it's regulatory policies, the MSC curve will again shift rightwards as the marginal social cost will increase. While it will not reach it's original position because factories will remain less productive, it will still increase pollution. When the coronavirus is finally under control, and the population leaves quarantine, the MSC will likely increase to unprecedented levels as factories will return to full production without much regulatory control. One of the few benefits of the coronavirus crisis has been the decrease in air pollution levels, and the EPA has decided to challenge this by easing regulatory measures. One can only hope that the EPA swiftly decides to reverse it's decision and re-implement some of it's regulatory measures to address air pollution. Obviously in class, we have discussed the models depicting air pollution in China before and after the coronavirus outbreak. The models reveal a significant decrease in pollution throughout the country as factories shut down, and individuals took self-quarantine measures. About a week ago, I came across an article in the New York Times that told a similar story about the United States. The article particularly focused on the impact that less commuting has had on pollution in major urban areas across the country. As individuals are instructed to work and study from home, they no longer have to commute to work and their different activities. This has significantly reduced traffic in all major cities, consequently, pollution in these cities has also greatly decreased. I particular, nitrogen dioxide levels (which primarily come from car and truck pollution) have decreased greatly over the past month. This goes to show just how much a daily commute can contribute to air pollution when it is multiplied by the millions of individuals who commute around some of America's largest cities on a daily bases. This data is very encouraging as it shows just how much individual commuters contribute to air pollution. My hope is that this information sparks changes in the habits of millions of Americans. Individuals may choose to carpool or use public transportation to get to work instead of commuting on their own, increasing traffic and pollution. As life in America slows down, and individuals have time to reflect on their lives from home, I am optimistic that many will begin to appreciate the air they breath and will begin to change their habits for the sake of keeping our air cleaner. Article Link: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/03/22/climate/coronavirus-usa-traffic.html
While the article "The impact of exposure to air pollution on cognitive performance" certainly provides important insight on a pertinent issue in environmental economics (the effects of air pollution on the cognitive skills of the elderly), the article made me more concerned about a separate issue regarding the economy of China. This issue is the retirement savings options for the citizens of China. After doing further research on retirement planning in China, I learned that Chinese citizens have far fewer options than Americans. The brief article in the link below provided quite a bit of insight into this. Obviously Americans have several options for retirement planning including social security, 401(k)'s, IRA's, and Roth IRA's. While many retirees in the United States struggle with having enough money, the issue in China seems much more serious. Being a nation with heavy government control, China obviously has a comprehensive government-run retirement system comparable to social security in the United States. However, with a much larger population, the Chinese government system has many constituents to support. Furthermore, as the Chinese economy becomes freer and freer, private retirement options comparable to American 401(K)'s and IRA's have emerged. This has left many Chinese citizens confused with how to retire as new saving options emerge and the structure economy continues to change. Furthermore, many private Chinese companies are hesitant to provide retirement savings plans for employees due to bureaucratic concerns and minimal government subsidies for providing these plans. This makes millions of individuals reliant on the Chinese equivalent to Social Security, a measure that may not be fiscally sustainable as the age of China's population rises in the long-run. As the article by Xin Zhang, Xi Chen, and Xiaobo Zhang reveals, the decision-making skills of many elderly Chinese individuals are diminished by air pollution throughout the country. This is even more concerning as millions of individuals may not be managing their money responsibly due to mental issues caused by pollution and a lack of transparency with the retirement options available to them. This could jeopardize entire generations as they may not responsibly prepare for retirement and may spend their savings recklessly due to mental impairments. The issue reveals how both pollution and poor government policy can jeopardize the savings of ordinary citizens. What the Chinese government should do is reform their retirement system to make private, company based plans more accessible to the public and launch a campaign to raise awareness for these programs. While this has no influence over reducing air pollution in China, it will ensure that millions of individuals can retire comfortably due to accumulated retirement savings. To include environmental concerns, another policy could include additional government dividends or tax exemptions regarded to those who provide sufficient evidence of environmental consideration. This could include a small dividend for those who recycle a certain amount of waste every year, or a tax exemption to business owners who make efforts to make their businesses more environmentally sustainable. Link: https://nolasia.net/retirement-options-in-china/
Toggle Commented Mar 12, 2020 on 3 short papers for Friday at Jolly Green General
"Full Cost Accounting for the Life Cycle of Coal" is a fascinating and eye opening study into the real cost of the externalities of coal as a source of energy. The study looks at every angle of coal-based energy from extraction, to processing, all the way to the actual combustion of coal. The results of the study were staggering, and forced me to question why coal is still used for roughly 40% of the world's electricity production. Monetarily, coal is still a cheap option for energy production, but as renewable energy sources, and natural gas become cheaper and more accessible, the monetary cost argument will soon become insufficient. Furthermore, the study reveals that coal production is directly linked to thousands of deaths each and every year. Whether it be miners who die in mining accidents, or former miners who die from CWP (Black Lung); those who chose to work in coal mines risk their lives working in an industry that will eventually be replaced by a safer, more renewable energy source. While policy makers and coal companies may view the direct risks associated with coal mining as acceptable due to the cheap price of coal, the study reveals that when accounting for the spillover costs associated with coal-based energy, coal is by far the costliest source of energy. The study considers a vast array of variables that relate to the environment and public health in order to measure the cost of the negative externalities associated with coal. I was shocked to learn that virtually every step in the process from coal mining to combustion contributed greatly to these negative externalities. From the risks associated with storing waste in coal slurry ponds, to the numerous pollutants released from coal combustion, it is clear that coal is a very toxic energy source that is impossible to use in a manner that is conscientious towards the environment or public health. In all, the study revealed that the “true” cost of producing coal is $345.3 billion, and the conclusion even suggests that this estimate is on the lower end as it does not consider the impact of coal on plants, animals, and the contribution of coal-based energy production to the greenhouse effect. While the entire world shares the burden of these negative externalities, it is the communities that rely on coal that suffer the most. As I have explained in a previous blog post, I visited a mountain top removal site two years ago. When visiting the site, I was fortunate enough to speak with several local community members about the effects of mountain top removal mining on their daily lives. They expressed frightening concerns about changes in their quality of drinking water, the destruction of local wildlife, and an increase in flooding caused by the removal of topsoil. However, what they were most concerned about was the potential threat of slurry ponds failing and dumping toxic waste into their community.
Toggle Commented Mar 6, 2020 on Discussion Paper for Friday at Jolly Green General
Of the articles and papers studied so far in this course, I found this paper to be the most relevant and applicable, especially since it is a case study into a non-market environmental good. More importantly, the paper reinforced the concepts of preference methods, particularly the contingent valuation method (CVM). The CVM was used in this study to estimate the willingness to pay (WTP) of tourists in Belize for environmental conservation fees. In Wednesday’s class we discussed the different preference methods used to calculate WTP, and seeing an actual study using the CVM gave me a much better understanding of both the methods used to make estimations and the considerations taken by economists when gathering data through a survey. Beyond the development of my knowledge of preference methods, the paper also introduced what I believe is one of the best systems for generating funds to support environmental conservation efforts. This system is simply a small fee attached to the recreational consumption of environmental resources. For instance, if an individual goes scuba diving they are to pay a small consumption fee for using the ocean and the ecosystems below its surface. In turn, the revenue generated from the consumption fee will be collected by the government before being allocated to support environmental conservation. In other words, this system can be viewed as a highway toll system for environmental conservation. If you use an environmental resource for your own enjoyment, you must also pay a small fee to preserve the environment you used. While this may seem like an additional tax that most consumers would reject, the research conducted in the paper suggests otherwise. In fact, roughly 79% of survey respondents stated that they would be willing to pay an additional consumption fee if they knew that it would be allocated to environmental conservation. Furthermore, a little bit less than half of the respondents said they would be willing to pay up to $10 in consumption fees. While the general willingness to pay of consumers is very encouraging, caution should be taken by policy makers if they attempt to implement or raise environmental consumption fees. As stated earlier, about 1 in every 5 respondents rejected the concept of implementing consumption fees. This means that if consumption fees are implemented or raised, a sizable amount of consumers could vanish. Furthermore, many respondents expressed support for increased fees as long as they were fairly low. After reviewing the survey results, I still believe that a consumption fee is an appropriate policy towards promoting conservation and combating the effects of climate change. That being said, any future implementation of consumption fees should be done with extreme caution and careful research. Policy makers cannot expect generate the funds needed for conservation if they implement a charge of more than $10, as they would lose a significant amount of their consumer base. Instead, policy makers should introduce fees in a very cautious and gradual manner. Introducing a fee of less than $5 would be a good start, and if consumers are still willing to pay for using the environment, the fees can be raised. If the EPA or local agencies introduced consumption fees in the United States, I believe that it would promote conservation and sustainability throughout society. Small fees for fishing in rivers, camping, or using hiking trails would pay off in the future in the form of healthier and cleaner ecosystems throughout the country. I believe that the United States should take Belize's policy a step further and apply conservation fees to a wide array of activities involving natural resources.
"Conservation Reconsidered" by John Krutilla is a fascinating article with a unique outlook on future approaches to conservation. Krutilla primarily views nature as a good within society's economy; considering the demand for nature through the public desire for recreational activity and sightseeing, and the supply of nature as inelastic and virtually impossible to reproduce. Early in the article, Krutilla makes an interesting point that the diminishing access to "unspoiled natural environments" is a market failure as current and future generations will have less access to these natural wonders than their predecessors. While progress has certainly been made since Krutilla wrote this article, I agree with his assessment and believe that further action should be taken in both the public and private sectors to buy back partially used land and transform it into a conserved natural environment. Krutilla points out that being an effective businessman is rarely compatible with being a good conservationist, but he also notes that demand for outdoor activities is on the rise, which could finally create a real market for preservation. Today, I believe that Krutilla's dream of a market for preservation has come true. While great strides are still needed, the Nature Conservancy has served as an excellent leader in the investment of land for conservation. I have seen this first hand in the small farming community of my cousins, where local environmentalists and the town government have begun buying uncultivated land from local farmers to establish environmental sanctuaries. Since this process began about ten years ago, a market for using these sanctuaries has emerged. Now, some of the most popular activities in the town include hiking, biking, and camping in these new sanctuaries. Lastly, I found the concept of "option demand" to be particularly interesting. Krutilla defines this as "a willingness to pay for retaining an option to use an area or facility that would be impossible to replace and for which no close substitute is available." In the context of environmental economics, option demand is essentially the willingness to buy natural land that has been minimally impacted by society's development. The reason why option demand stands out to me is because it applies to anyone interested in buying land for the purpose preserving it. Krutilla points out that option demand can exist at many different levels. It can apply to anything from a national government buying large tracts of land, to smaller stakeholders supporting preservation causes like the World Wildlife Fund. For this reason he states that option demand extends to individuals who simply invest in the conservation of a certain species or ecological phenomenon. Overall, I agree with most of Krutilla's points, even though I take what he would describe as an "optimistic" view of the future of preservation and the role that industries play in combatting issues like pollution and deforestation.
Despite being written in 1960, Coase's article is still relevant to social costs associated with many markets today. At the center of his argument, Coase stresses that any action taken against market failures affecting the environment (i.e.: Negative externalities such as air pollution, health effects, and deforestation) should be made with full consideration to all facets of the society effected. While it makes sense in theory, this is very difficult to achieve in reality, especially with full cooperation from all parties. Still, Coase's point that all stakeholders must be considered is valid to almost economic situation, especially that of the negative externalities associated with pollution and climate change. However, in the realm of pollution and climate change it is almost impossible to appease every stakeholder. For this reason, I am a bit critical of some of Coase's examples. The examples using the rancher and adjacent farmer deserve particular attention as they are overly simplistic with very idealistic assumptions. Coase generally assumes that the two parties would be very cooperative and understanding of each other. In the case of polluters cooperating with government regulation and the interest of society, we know that mutual cooperation is almost impossible to achieve. On a first hand basis, I found this to be true when I visited West Virginia two summers ago on my pre-orientation service trip. This trip included a visit to a mountain-top removal site, discussion with a local environmentalist, and a meeting with lobbyists from the Friends of Coal advocacy group. After reading Coase's article and reflecting on my experience in West Virginia, I came to the conclusion that it would be almost impossible for coal mining companies to pay reparations to every stakeholder they have effected without going bankrupt. Companies that produce coal would have to pay substantial fees to the government for years of air pollution, on top of paying for other externalities such as increases in "black lung", birth defects, flooding, water pollution, and the destruction of the surrounding ecosystems. For this reason, addressing the negative externalities associated with coal mining should come in the form of stricter environmental laws, emissions restrictions, and requiring mining companies to leave mining sites better intact. In all, I believe that Coase has many valid points, and that in theory his argument regarding consideration to all stakeholders is valid. Unfortunately, pollution is such a large issue, with stakeholders on a global scale that simply compensating effected stakeholders is almost impossible. Tackling pollution should be done in a manner that reduces pollution, rather than compensating the parties effected.
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Jan 17, 2020