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Grace A Stricklin
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The articles this week were about how minority groups are more exposed to, and thus more affected by, pollution than non-minority groups. The last two papers went on to interview people from areas of Louisiana and Michigan who are exposed to these higher levels of pollution also faced increased covid cases compared to other areas in the same states. The New York Times article stated that “In Michigan, African-Americans have accounted for more than 40 percent of deaths, even though they make up only 15 percent of the population” and the Vice article noticed a similar trend saying “African Americans account for 70 percent of all of the deaths in Louisiana so far. They make up just 32 percent of the population”. These patterns can easily lead one to conclude that a change in our policies on pollution is necessary and could perhaps lead one to conclude that new policies should be made that specifically target these low-income minority communities. So why haven’t policymakers enacted more climate policy that protects against this dangerous air pollution? Perhaps, it is because they are more inclined to listen to the interests of big, influential companies than the concerns of citizens. Perhaps, it is because they feel threatened by the notion that these problems are institutional, ingrained into the fabric of our society, and are thus rather large undertakings to combat. Either way, it is clear that more aggressive air pollution policy is necessary to ensure the health and safety of groups across the U.S.
Toggle Commented Mar 30, 2022 on Last Post for the Semester at Jolly Green General
I found it to be relatively comforting that this analysis found that the average household burden for each the pessimistic and optimistic Waxman-Markey plan and the cap-and-dividend policy fell between $138 and $436 dollars for the year in 2016. This represents less than one percent of household income (between .23 percent and .73 percent depending on the chosen strategy). Although these plans would still present significant financial burden, especially for specific groups disproportionately affected by the various strategies, they do not appear to be attempting to spend an impossible-to-receive amount of money. Of course, some household would likely fair better than others; in all three cases the households in the bottom income quintile and the households with a household head older than age 75 are harmed the least, those in the bottom income quintile could even have some monetary gains. These results are slightly concerning on a policy level since they could alienate middle class voters who may feel unfairly targeted by the climate policies. The examination of the three policies also found that households in the Plains region consistently faced higher average burdens for all age groups than households in other regions which means that middle class families from the Plains are most likely to be apprehensive about all three of the policies. Even though the burdens upon each household are likely to be less than one percent of household income, I believe that politicians attempting to pass any of these would need to be careful in the way they framed the policies, especially for the groups who are likely to feel targeted.
Toggle Commented Mar 23, 2022 on Paper for Thursday at Jolly Green General
I found these articles particularly interesting since, so far, we have been mainly looking at directly environmental and broadly societal impacts of pollution, but they focused on individual health outcomes of those exposed to air pollutants. All of the articles seemed to agree that air pollution has negative effects on general health and some of the more specific results were also quite intriguing. One article noted that the negative effects seem to be more pronounced in less educated men than in women and another noted that those who already have respiratory problems, like asthma, also experience more negative outcomes due to air pollution. The fact that less educated men face more harm due to air pollution definitely has policy implications; this seems to indicate that we should be more aware of the specific geopolitical areas in which we focus on air pollution policy and should perhaps focus more on less developed countries. These readings also indicate that policy could also attempt to generate more protections for those who have preexisting respiratory conditions who currently live in areas with high levels of air pollution. Overall, these articles tend to suggest that change in the way we deal with air pollution is necessary to protect the health of everyone who is exposed to it and that this change needs to happen soon. This set of readings seemed slightly less helpless to me than some of the others we have read, perhaps because they did not all go into detail about exactly what needs to be changed or perhaps because I am used to being presented with difficult to solve medical problems, but nevertheless I am hopeful that our society will soon be ready to make actual progress in the ways in which we address air pollution.
Toggle Commented Mar 16, 2022 on Papers for Thursday at Jolly Green General
Shaw ends his “Fueling Our Future” article with a quote from Daniel Schrag, a professor of earth and planetary sciences whose research is cited throughout the article, in which he says that a goal of 550ppm of CO2 emissions may be the best we can do but “it is still a disaster”. This is a rather bleak statement which does not leave one with much hope even after reading an article which has many ideas for possible solutions. Unfortunately, Shaw noted earlier in the article that the most feasible way to slow down climate change and decrease CO2 emissions is to use some of our coal. The United States, China, and India all have a significant amount of coal, but none of these countries have carbon emission laws to go along with this new power source. If these countries did decide to decrease their emissions despite the lack of a law telling them to do so, they will have to process their coal differently than the old way so as to capture and subsequently sequester the CO2 created during the process. So, even though this is the most realistic solution, it would still be very costly and would require the U.S., China, and India to rapidly shift their emissions policies and overall views about global warming. Thus, I believe that Schrag’s bleak outlook is rather justified, the potential solutions we do have are not likely to be implemented in time to be as helpful as would be ideal and, even if they are implemented in a timely manner, our planet will still be too warm.
Toggle Commented Mar 10, 2022 on Papers for Thursday at Jolly Green General
This article was especially interesting as it mentioned many of the things that impact fisheries other than simply the number of fish available or the way in which they are run. One section that was especially intriguing to me talked about how human competition can be detrimental to the benefits of fishery stakeholder of even well-managed fisheries. An activity called ‘derby fishing’ can occur when there is a catch quota; fishermen will race to catch their quota as they compete with others who are after the same fish. This derby fishing can lead to more injuries among fishermen and the shortened fishing period caused by this type of fishing can have negative impacts on the economic value of fisheries in which this occurs. The fact that even well-managed fisheries must also consider how the reactions of fisherman to their policies will further impact their fisheries is a clear example of how interconnected all the parts of the fishery business are with each other. The article did go on to offer some examples of how fisheries could avoid this problem (such as offering RBFM instead of open access fishing) which offers some hope for those well-managed fisheries with derby fishing problems.
Toggle Commented Feb 9, 2022 on Paper for Thursday at Jolly Green General
I found it interesting that the article noted that periods preceding elections usually have increased deforestation efforts as a result of “anticipation by deforesters that election results will bring relaxed enforcement” or even amnesties that forgive past deforestation violations. This implies that political leaders are likely to give into short term economic demands from their constituents rather than adhere to their environmental morals. This may also mean that it is more difficult to pass progressively more strict environmental protection legislation as some of the previous progress is lost most election cycles. I also thought it was interesting that Brazil made an exception to its ban on exporting raw logs. This ban had been in place since 1965, but it was lifted from 1987 to 1989 for logs exported from the port of Samuel. The fact that during this time one ship of logs every two weeks was sent to China tends to support the idea that the government in Brazil has tended to prioritize monetary gains over protective environmental policy. Both of these points further support the idea that was mentioned in class on Tuesday that the UN or some other group should provide funding to Brazil to incentivize protecting the Amazon.
Toggle Commented Feb 3, 2022 on Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
I found both of these articles especially interesting as they mentioned two ways to assign a value to what people are willing to pay to preserve both Barbados and Belize. The Belize article was especially intriguing as it mentioned that there had been a $3.75 conservation fee for visitors that had been raised to $20. The article mentioned a concept that I had not previously heard of called ‘anchoring’ when they were discussing if mentioning the existing $3.75 fee would cause people to become attached to this price point instead of giving their true willingness to pay for conservation efforts in the country. The researchers found that their fear of the anchoring affect was unfounded as upon hearing about the $3.75 fee, many peoples’ willingness to pay increased from their initially stated value. Ultimately, Belize was able to raise the fee to the existing $20 amount, however, some of the initial research indicates that many people would be willing to pay even more than $20. This research into how much people are willing to pay, or claim to be willing to pay, is extremely interesting and seems to offer hope for future conservation efforts in Belize and elsewhere.
Toggle Commented Jan 27, 2022 on Readings for Thursday at Jolly Green General
I found Solow’s preferred definition of sustainability to be particularly notable. He suggests that sustainability is “an obligation to conduct ourselves so that we leave to the future the option of the capacity to be as well off as we are” (Solow 181). This initially seems not only reasonable, but feasible as well; however, he seems to note one of the potential concerns with this definition himself- at present, we are unable to know what our current resources will be worth in the future. Solow discusses this point in regard to current natural resources, like oil, that will eventually be obsolete. However, he does not seem to consider the fact that resources that are not considered valuable now could soon be the most desirable natural resources. Solow notes that as we use current resources, we should invest the money made from them into sustainable efforts, which could mean that humanity could avoid this issue altogether if renewable energy sources are discovered or created instead. However, it is interesting that he places the most emphasis on currently used nonrenewable resources and sustainable resources without considering what resources may actually be considered valuable in the future.
Toggle Commented Jan 20, 2022 on Readings for Thursday at Jolly Green General
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Jan 19, 2022