This is Merritt McCaleb's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Merritt McCaleb's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Merritt McCaleb
Recent Activity
While I appreciated insight from all of the readings, the most unsettling and shocking bit of information I read for today came from the Vice article: “African Americans account for 70 percent of all of the deaths in Louisiana so far. They make up just 32 percent of the population.” This is a harrowing statistic, as it speaks directly to the blatant economic racism embedded within our institutions. This also speaks to the rhetoric embedded within the Vice article. Phrases such as “we’re just dying and waiting to die” and “it’s as if the government doesn’t even care how many people are dying” particularly caught my eye. This is tragic and so incredibly disheartening to read. Additionally, I appreciated how the Vice article set the context of environmental justice, racism, and consequences of air pollution against the specific backdrop of Covid-19. As the article mentions, the Covid-19 pandemic “poses a severe threat to people whose lungs, immune systems, and hearts have been weakened by environmental contaminants.” Before reading this article, I hadn’t thought deeply about who in particular the pandemic might have disproportionately affected. In my Poverty 101 class that I took last semester, we discussed the pernicious cycle of how air pollution adversely affects those who live near highly polluted areas, and how this can negatively impact unborn children, among other residents. The harmful effects of air pollution on health of those who are most exposed to it are so abundantly clear, and when challenged with the pandemic, these people are more at risk of catching the virus.
Toggle Commented Mar 30, 2022 on Last Post for the Semester at Jolly Green General
In reading the paper assigned for today, I was particularly struck by the length to which the largest burden falls upon the middle-income households. Of course, this makes sense, as they receive neither low-income rebates nor value through ownership of capital stock. Before reading this paper, I most likely would have assumed that the lower-income households bear the brunt of the costs of climate policy, so it was definitely a relief learning that lower-income households benefit – either directly or indirectly – from the different programs and policies that the paper mentioned, such as the Lower Income Energy Rebate Program. Thus, while it is still unfortunate that the middle class endures the burden of higher costs of climate policy, I’m glad that lower-income households are somewhat protected and that, according to the paper, “the most vulnerable groups of the population are not harmed.” Further, I liked how the study integrated the element of optimistic and pessimistic scenarios. In doing so, this would make the results more realistic, as some element of uncertainty would be understood and determined. Despite this aspect, however, the differences between such optimistic and pessimistic scenarios are quite large; in the optimistic scenario, the average household pays $138, but in the pessimistic scenario, the cost is $436 – a difference of just under $300. As Izzy points out, this incredibly wide range merely confirms the convoluted challenges that uncertainty brings.
Toggle Commented Mar 23, 2022 on Paper for Thursday at Jolly Green General
Last semester, I took a course on poverty (POV 101 with Professor Pickett), and we watched a video about and read an article by Patrick Sharkey, in which he discussed neighborhoods and multi-generational effects. He highlights how living in low-income neighborhoods creates vast implications for its members. While air pollution and its adverse effects weren’t his central talking point, he did address how such neighborhoods are characterized by poor education systems, little social opportunities, and low air quality. Further, there is little chance for upward social mobility, as Sharkey points out that the children who are currently exposed to low-quality neighborhoods typically come from families that experienced the same disadvantages in their own neighborhoods. With the aforementioned knowledge in mind, I found the three articles assigned for today to be, while interesting, rather disturbing. Clearly, air pollution is dangerous, but it was frightening reading about how the studies and research illustrated the extent to which it imposes harsh consequences on our health. As the article titled “The Impact of Exposure of Air Pollution on Cognitive Performance” reiterates, long-term exposure to air pollution significantly “impedes cognitive performance in verbal and math tests.” Further, the cognitive damage caused by air pollution yields “substantial health and economic costs,” which would greatly impact everyone affected. The third article discusses air pollution-related illnesses and the effects of particles, which originate from “sources such as vehicle exhaust, road dust, smokestacks, etc.” Realistically, I understand that vehicle exhaust and road dust contribute to air pollution, but as someone who has always lived in Dallas, it’s easy to sort of ignore the consequences that air pollution brings. I just don’t think about it on the day-to-day. Therefore, like the article mentioned, not only should health impacts of PM prompt further research, but public concern about this issue must increase, as people must understand the dangers that air pollution yields.
Toggle Commented Mar 16, 2022 on Papers for Thursday at Jolly Green General
While I appreciated both articles, I found that Jonathan Shaw’s “Fueling Our Future” particularly interested me. Professor Schrag’s expertise in the environmental field piqued my curiosity, and Shaw’s way of writing about such scary issues was riveting. For example, in the very first paragraph of the article, Shaw writes, “even forecasts of…rising sea levels worldwide that will someday drown major cities have thus far failed to mobilize public action in the United States.” This phrase made me think of when we were discussing whether it’s better or worse to frame environmental issues in a negative or positive light. The phrase above paints global warming in a pessimistic way that most likely overwhelms many people, even paralyzing them. After all, the thought of major cities being wiped out due to high sea levels is an image I doubt anyone wants to picture – it’s horrifying. The concept of global warming and climate change isn’t hard to grasp, but when trying to think of solutions, many people become paralyzed and therefore, little action to alleviate risks occurs. As we discussed in class, people definitely need to understand the scope and extent to which climate change occurs, but if we do so in a more optimistic and hopeful manner, then perhaps we will be more likely to act quickly. Furthermore, I found the information offered on known global reserves to be deeply unsettling. Schrag says that, based on consumption in 2006, “known global reserves of will last 41 years.” This article was written in 2006, so 41 years from that would be in 2047. That is 25 years from now….Finally, toward the end of the article, Schrag says, “the only thing missing…is the will to act.” How terrifying – it truly is haunting thinking about how we’re fully capable of avoiding environmental catastrophes, but that we might fail to do so simply because of our failure to act in a timely manner.
Toggle Commented Mar 10, 2022 on Papers for Thursday at Jolly Green General
I thoroughly enjoyed the webinar from Monday's webinar; I particularly found Niquole Ester's topic of fisheries to be the most fascinating segment. As I mentioned in this Thursday's blog post, I didn't really know that much at all about fisheries prior to attending, so I learned a ton. It makes me want to reach out to Chris Watt to both talk to him about his love of fishing and learn what he thinks of global fisheries and potential economic solutions. Additionally, I hadn't before thought of how fishing connects to some of the global goals that Ester talks about, such as the zero hunger initiative and gender equality, but it's interesting knowing that fishing provides so much more than a mere meal - it provides ways of life. Furthermore, I was intrigued about the role that Kim Hodge plays in sustainability at W&L. I remember sitting in my freshman dorm's common room with my friends and watching some older students from the Compost Committee collect compost from the bins. Thus, it was fascinating hearing the actual, numerical difference that their efforts, along with others' efforts, has played in sustainability at W&L - I realized that it really has made such a big difference. Because of that, I'm eager to learn more about and get involved in sustainability efforts at W&L.
Toggle Commented Feb 10, 2022 on Next Webinar Monday at Jolly Green General
It was interesting reading this paper having attended the webinar about global fisheries from earlier this week. Prior to attending the webinar, I didn’t know much about fisheries, and I hadn’t realized the importance in their essential contributions to food security and poverty alleviation. For example, I learned that every 3 people out of 7 depend on seafood as their primary source of protein. Therefore, this paper merely extended my curiosity, as I now better understood how vital a role fisheries play. Costello and Ovando examine how fisheries, which illustrate the economics principle of the Tragedy of the Commons, serve as open-access resources and are depleted due to over-exploitation. To solve such over-exploitation, the article mentions the use of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), which would create sections of the ocean where human activity is limited; however, this solution alone is not enough. Further, while this isn’t a policy idea, more people need to be made aware of how vital fisheries are to global well-being. For example, as someone who doesn’t fish nor lives in a coastal area, I rarely think about fisheries and the impacts that over-production has. We need to shift our focus to increasing our understanding of how to create rights-based approaches to managing fisheries, because if we do so, then the fisheries will most likely experience higher profits and, according to the authors, “achieve greater conservation outcomes.” Otherwise, we’ll suffer the consequences.
Toggle Commented Feb 10, 2022 on Paper for Thursday at Jolly Green General
I’m fascinated at how China, a leading global economy, wields a vast amount of influence on Brazil’s economy and their Amazonian region. As China is a member of the Paris Agreement, I’m disheartened at its disregard for the Amazon Forest – I understand that China’s large economy requires it to maximize its profits, but certain initiatives should be implemented in order to alleviate the amount of deforestation in the Amazonian region. Further, as the paper was published in 2012 – and thus various projects were being debated at the time – I’m curious about the current relationship ten years later between China and Brazil’s Amazonian Forest, especially during the global pandemic. How did China and Brazil handle exports at the beginning of the Covid pandemic in 2020? Was there a brief increase or decrease in the amount of deforestation during that time? How has it evolved since then? Additionally, I’m curious has to what the Brazilian people think of the deforestation of the Amazonian region in lieu of the increase in research and conversations about global climate change over recent years; are they concerned for the region, or do they enjoy reaping the economic benefits?
Toggle Commented Feb 3, 2022 on Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
I drawn to John Quiggin’s article regarding how we could, potentially, end poverty while protecting the global environment. My fascination stemmed from how positive and optimistic his outlook is on economic strategies that might alleviate various environmental issues. His hopefulness is rooted in the article’s central question of not can we, but will we alleviate – and perhaps eliminate altogether – poverty without “destroying our natural environment” implying that such a balance is, in fact, possible. Yet while I appreciated Quiggin’s attitude, the arguments he puts forth seem ambitious and daunting. In fact, I actually got less optimistic as the article goes on. Specifically, I was struck when he mentions that “a large section of the political right…has turned rejection of climate science into a major front in the culture wars that dominate a tribalist approach to politics.” The political polarization that exists about such important environmental policies seems to prevent countries from uniting together to solve global problems. People get too swept up in their own individual points of view and are thus quick to stand their ground – this becomes dangerous when people fail to understand and comprehend others’ ideas. As a result, the phrase “it’s not a question of ‘can we,’ but ‘will we’” is almost scarier than saying we can’t do it at all, precisely because we are given the opportunity to succeed, but if we don’t, it’s because of our own failures and shortcomings (most likely being our inability to listen to one another). It’s haunting to realize that we are capable of avoiding environmental catastrophes and eliminating poverty, but that we very well may not succeed due to our inability to listen to one another. Further, the “foot-dragging of major nations” is irksome. Quiggin notes that such countries with major economies have slowed in reducing carbon emissions, and it’s frustrating that these countries, who wield vast influence over the rest of the world, are failing to take charge. Finally, I wanted to touch briefly on the idea of moral obligations, as I learned about this idea in my poverty class last semester. Robert Solow focuses on this idea of our obligations to future generations – according to him, we each are “entitled to please ourselves, so long as it’s not at the expense of future well-being.” In other words, we are free to do whatever we want, as long as we don’t impose harm upon anyone or anything else.
Toggle Commented Jan 20, 2022 on Readings for Thursday at Jolly Green General
Merritt McCaleb is now following The Typepad Team
Jan 19, 2022