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Belen Delgado Mio
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I think that all of these articles point to something that we have discussed in class a lot - that low-income people and minorities have always suffered the most when it comes to environmental issues. Lane et al. did a great job at demonstrating how this relates back to systemic racism in the US. Redlining, a set of housing policies created by the US government that discriminated against poor and low-income people in the 1930s, continues to negatively affect marginalized groups in urban areas to this day. The effects come in many different forms. Redlined communities are less likely to have green space, and are more likely to be closer to primary sources of air pollution, thus making these communities more susceptible to illnesses that affect their hearts and lungs. Homes in these areas were not eligible for federal loans or decent mortgage terms in the 1930s, preventing marginalized communities from being able to build up generational wealth. These factors already made it difficult for these communities to survive, but the COVID pandemic further worsened these issues. I think that these issues show that the importance of environmental justice. We can't begin to create policies that try to tackle these issues without considering how marginalized communities will be affected.
Toggle Commented Mar 31, 2022 on Last Post for the Semester at Jolly Green General
I thought it was really interesting that the paper described the socioeconomic classes and age groups that end up winning and losing in the various climate change policy scenarios. The paper affirmed a lot of what we had already discussed previously in class - that low income households would benefit the most from policies tackling climate change because they would receive some sort of rebate that would supplement their regular income. However, on Tuesday we talked about how low-income households are generally the group that are most likely to not support climate change policies. I think part of this has to be because low-income households may not be aware that many climate change policies come with rebates that are greater than the income they will lose due to price increases in gas, energy, etc. I wonder if educating low-income households on how these policies could benefit them would increase their support for these policies. Especially since it has recently become more apparent that poorer households will incur the most costs due to climate change.
Toggle Commented Mar 24, 2022 on Paper for Thursday at Jolly Green General
I think that all of these articles showed important information about the different ways in which air pollution negatively affects us as a society. The articles pointed out some of the well-known effects air pollution has on human health, like asthma, bronchitis, stroke, cardiovascular issues, etc. However, Zhang et al. also discussed how air pollution could negatively affect a person's cognition. It was really surprising to find out that the cognitive effects were very serious for the elderly. Especially since cognitive decline in older people can increase their likelihood of developing dementia. It was also interesting that the paper connected cognitive declines in the elderly to potential financial losses. Originally, I didn't think about how this decline could affect their retirement plans, health insurance, or family members who have to take care of them. In class we often talk about putting a tax on pollution to ensure that companies' internalize the negative externalities associated with their pollution. It was interesting to see just how costly these negative externalities are in real life. For example, Jalaludin et al. stated that the total indirect and direct costs of asthma in Australia in 1991 were around $600 million and $700 million. This is very concerning because this estimate only refers to the costs associated with asthma. The true costs of all of the negative health outcomes associated with air pollution are a much higher number.
Toggle Commented Mar 16, 2022 on Papers for Thursday at Jolly Green General
I thought that Schrag's article was a super interesting read. Although Schrag made it clear that in 2007 we had already reached a point in which we could not do anything to stop climate change from happening, he still had a very hopeful perspective about the possibility of mitigating its effects. I really liked the fact that he mentioned that the argument that we should focus all of our resources toward making communities adaptable to climate change is flawed. We can't act in this way because climate change will only continue to worsen if we do not address what's causing it - too much CO2 and other GHGs in the atmosphere. I also thought it was interesting that he said that we don't have to force countries to consume less to reduce our total energy demand. Instead, we should focus on investing in technology that will make our cities more energy efficient, like better/more widespread public transportation systems. I also thought that it was really important that he brought up carbon sequestration as part of the solution. In Professor Greer's climate change class we talked extensively about geoengineering technologies that could be very useful for removing carbon from the atmosphere. He mentioned one of the more controversial ones - sucking CO2 from the atmosphere and pumping it deep into underground reservoirs. But there are other methods that are a lot less daunting - such as spreading calcium and silica ions across the ocean to create phytoplankton blooms so that the phytoplankton can absorb more CO2, or even using various soil carbon sequestration techniques (which could help crop growth as well).
Toggle Commented Mar 10, 2022 on Papers for Thursday at Jolly Green General
This article demonstrated that fisheries management is incredibly important for international economies, especially economies in developing countries. If these fisheries are mismanaged due to a lack of governance, these fisheries can quickly deteriorate. This portion of the text reminded me of the problems that are associated with the tragedy of the commons, because so many of these problems stem from a lack of government regulations. It also demonstrates the intersection between an ecological problem to economic and political issues. It's clear to me that stricter regulations are necessary to keep economies that are dependent on these fisheries from collapsing. As we've mentioned in class previously, no one will follow rules that can't be enforced unless those rules would somehow benefit them.
Toggle Commented Feb 10, 2022 on Paper for Thursday at Jolly Green General
I think that this article highlighted something that we talked about during the last class: if rich countries want to see developed nations conserve their rainforests, pollute less, or implement other sustainable initiatives, they need to provide developing countries with the resources necessary to do so. This article demonstrated the link between commodities that China wants from Brazil, like soybeans and beef, to the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest. China is able to have such a great influence on Brazil's environmental policies because this relationship is very beneficial to Brazil in several ways. This trade allows for Brazil's agribusiness to continuously grow. Not only that, but China has the financial power to invest in major development projects in Brazil like the Santarem-Cuiaba railway. Finally, China's purchases of Brazilian land help boost land prices in Brazil. Given all of the benefits that Brazil gains from China's trade and the deforestation of the Amazon, how could we expect Brazil to stop deforestation or to make strong environmental protection policies? If rich countries want to preserve the Amazon Rainforest, then they need to demonstrate that they are willing to invest in Brazil's economy, just like China has.
Toggle Commented Feb 3, 2022 on Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
I found these two articles really interesting. It's nice to know that many tourists were willing to pay higher fees in order to conserve wildlife ecosystems in Belize or to keep beaches clean in Barbados. I had a couple of questions about the study that took place in Belize. I wonder if a bigger sample size in this study would have made a difference in the results. I also wondered if a trend would be seen along political leanings. Also, since the surveys were done in an interview style, I wondered if the respondents would have answered lower WTP amounts, had they taken the survey on their own. Finally, since the most common maximum willingness to pay was $10, I wondered what the respondents would have answered to a question that asked that since their WTP was lower than $20, the new fee, would they stop visiting Belize altogether? I assume that visiting Belize isn't relatively cheap so I'm not sure if a $10 difference in the fee would keep so many of the respondents from coming back.
Toggle Commented Jan 26, 2022 on Readings for Thursday at Jolly Green General
Quiggin's article makes it clear that the US has the ability to make renewable energy widely available to its people through technological improvements, and to decrease the amount of people that go hungry globally by giving more foreign aid to developing countries. However, as he stated, the problem lies within the willingness of the US, and other developed countries, to actually take action on these issues. This reminded me of two of the three I's of why we don't have better environmental policy, interests and ideology. Unfortunately, the interests of very powerful oil and gas companies, along with the unwillingness of a majority of the Republican party to take an initiative on the problem of global climate change prevents the US from being able to make substantial progress on this issue. My fear is that, as a country, we won't do anything about this issue before it's too late. Not because we don't have the right technology or the money available to build the right infrastructure for renewable energy to become widely available, but because partisanship and powerful people will halt progress on this issue altogether. Unfortunately, reading Quiggin's article made me less optimistic for the future because he shows us that we have the tools to fix our problems, but that we probably won't do the right thing because we have the choice not to.
Toggle Commented Jan 19, 2022 on Readings for Thursday at Jolly Green General
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Jan 19, 2022