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William Dantini
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The term "Environmental Racism" incorrectly implies that this is standalone problem. In fact, racism in the US has shown from various environmental aspects to test scores to covid risks to mortgage availability that every problem in this country is amplified by racism. Any good economist conducting a study in the US would factor race in as a control because they know the effects of racism are as pervasive as ultrafine particles in our organs. As much as legislation like the "Green New Deal" would be economically beneficial for the US and the businessmen given the opportunity to profit from it, so would solving the issue of racism in this country. The potential profits of equality are huge, however the benefits wouldn't necessarily all go to the top, which is probably why it hasn't been advocated in government As a politics major, I feel I could write an essay right now on how society and government need to change to fix this deep issue. In the meantime, health concerns from the environment will add to a host of effects of racism. Interestingly enough, last semester I did a project with real data of covid cases that showed that counties who voted for Trump in 2020 would have more covid cases. For people in the "Cancer Belt" and others in poor areas, the poor handling of the pandemic from the Trump administration may have contributed to the 2020 election results, which would highlight this effect in the data we found. I think it would be interesting to see how environmental racism and environmental classism are affecting current political election.
Toggle Commented Mar 31, 2022 on Last Post for the Semester at Jolly Green General
I thought the literature this week on the implementation of carbon taxes was very informative. The problem with implementing such a policy really comes down to short term incentives and politics. However, it is difficult for a politician to get the funding and votes by campaigning for a tax. It is a political death sentence. I remember facing this diffiulty when trying to propose a cap-and-trade system in a Model UN conference. The idea of taking that tax and giving it directly back to the people is an excellent way to get around this! Sure, a politician isn't going to get fossil fuel funding. On the other hand, they will be getting more votes and money by suggesting a net financial benefit to consumers and businesses in other sectors of the economy. I was happy to see that the article tried out several models based on varying forms of legislation. Too often in economic studies can the parameters be set to create a favorable conclusion through the data. The conlcusions drawn from both optimistic and pessimistic scenarios proves the strength of this study. Something that I found interesting with this debate was not just the impact on individuals, but the entire economy in general. The studies are expecting a negative impact on the economy based on historical notions. However, if one thinks about a lack of a carbon tax as a subsidy on the carbon-emmiting industries over the true cost of their emissions, then it becomes clear that a carbon tax would actually make the economy more efficient. A further effect of putting this money into the hands of the government is that it gives them more money to work with and a better hand to guide the economy in a politically favorable direction. Compared to some of the bleak reading we saw last week, these papers give me a lot of hope that change is possible.
Toggle Commented Mar 23, 2022 on Paper for Thursday at Jolly Green General
I thought these articles were interesting because of their ability to link the science with the social and economic effects they have. The articles give a direct link between pollution and health effects on our lives, whether it is through life-threatening diseases like heart failure, the suceptible like those with asthma and similar diseases, or your ability to think. After going through two years of this pandemic, I don't have much faith in the general population trusting the science or caring about people susceptible to certain conditions or diseases made worse by pollution. I hope that those who worry about the long-term effects of the coronavirus feel the same way about pollution. Unlike the pandemic, however, pollution effects everyone to some extent. Although I think these effects are important for understanding the magnitude of the effect increased pollution has on our lives, it does a poor job of convincing people to do something about it. Although a quick trip to Delhi or a coal plant will probably convince someone about the bad effects of pollution, the easiest way will probably be to relate it to their own pollution. For example, asking someone what it would be like to stand behind an idling truck all day, maybe even while on a treadmill, would feel like. For the more conservative, maybe asking how annoying it would be to wear a mask every day because the air is too polluted to breathe. I remember one of the most profound things my APES teacher showed us were pictures of different cities before and after clean air legislation was introduced. For the average person, seeing this difference visually works. This ties in the psychological science of economics and the problem with pollution. Convincing people and governments to take greater steps against pollution is just as important now as it was when combating the smoking industry.
Toggle Commented Mar 15, 2022 on Papers for Thursday at Jolly Green General
Schrag does an excellent job giving an overview of the complexities surrounding global warming and energy use. This report from 2007 highlights the need for an interdiscplinary approach to the issue. He talks about not only the science, but the economics that will drive decisions to reduce emissions or not. This paper reminds me of an experiment I did in Model UN in high school. It was a college conference at Brown, and the student running the room spent a significant amount of time explaining the issue and getting us to know each other better. We were representing nations in the UN, and formed groups based on our geolocation or political interests to come up with policy decisions to solve the global warming issue. After spending a lot of time discussing and making probably unrealistic concessions for the nations we were representing, the student told us that our efforts would not reduce global warming by 1.5 degrees, or even 2 degrees. We then spent some time trying to bring it down to 1.5 degrees of warming, realizing that it would take an enourmous effort on the part of everyone to make such a change happen. At the end of the day, the lesson that we learned, which I think Schrag is trying to say as well, is that it is impossible to completely remove global warming from the equation and difficult to even try. However, that doesn't mean that there aren't realistic steps we can take to reduce emissions. He proceeds to outline a general multi-faceted plan of what sustainable economic development would look like, which gives me some hope at the end of this paper that we are not doomed, even if the end result is not ideal.
Toggle Commented Mar 10, 2022 on Papers for Thursday at Jolly Green General
I found this article made a really interesting point with its argument about reforming global fisheries with the RBFM method. The article points out that the fisheries in developing areas are in worse shape than the ones in developed areas because of poor regulation. Ultimately, this is poorly impacting the economies of these developing nations. Therefore, there is an economic incentive for developing countries to adapt these regulation for economic benefit. So why aren't they doing this now? Well, this is in part because these nations don't have the resources or political stability to regulate their fisheries, which would also probably be unpopular in the short term with their fishers. It may be possible then for foreign aid from developed countries to focus on aiding these countries in this mission, which will not only be beneficial for bilateral relations, but will also improve the environment for everyone. If we look past the short term issues, then this paper presents are very viable political, economic, and environmental solution for sustainable fisheries.
Toggle Commented Feb 10, 2022 on Paper for Thursday at Jolly Green General
This topic is clearly complicated, as evidenced by the use of two linear regressions in the paper's results from data. I was impressed that only one interaction variable and an intercept were the only variables, whether dependent or control variables, that were insignificant. This means that the conclusions drawn are supported well from the data despite the complexity of the issue. This complexity is something that current politics seems to be ignoring to some extent. I find the posts about saving the Amazon rain forest on social media to have a good sentiment, but it is not very helpful. The focus of these posts should actually be on what is incentivizing the Bolsonaro to support depleting Brazil's own resources. This ties into international trade, with China's demand being a significant force behind the economic need for Brazil to supply soy and other products to China. This puts a lot of our environmental issues into a different light, because now we are in a better position to fight climate change and habitat loss by regulating our own demands, if we are willing. Many of the largest economies on Earth besides China are either the US or European. I don't feel that the US is green enough, but Europe on paper in the most environmentally-friendly region now. On paper. However, how green does Europe look when we factor in its economic demands? The Nordstream pipelines sure don't look green. A quick search shows that about 40% of the EU's imports are comprised equally of fuel and distillation products, electronic equipment, and machinery. These imports were not necessarily produced in a green fashion, especially the fuel imports. It is obvious that on a macroeconomic scale, demand forces are just as important as supply forces. Therefore, the WTO, national governments, and similar global organizations should reconsider their definitions for what defines a green economy. This definition should include all types of imports and exports, including foreign investments. Additionally, people need to be made aware of these factors in order to better petition their governments to take action.
Toggle Commented Feb 4, 2022 on Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the seminar. Your presentation covered a decent amount of what we have already talked about in class (environmental economics), however I think that Prof. Humston and Ms. Keeling brought a great deal of perspective on what it all the things we talk about actually mean. Prof. Humston covered the Anthropocene, a concept I remember reading and hearing about from Elizabeth Kolbert. This perspective on the past thousands to billions of years really puts into perspective the idea of sustainability in the context of our planet's history. This has led me to the conclusion that although the world may suffer now, and in the worst case scenario humanity will perish sooner than anticipated, life on Earth will continue to thrive in some way, shape, or form. On the other hand, Ms. Keeling did an excellent job showing how business incorporates into sustainability. In class, we read some of your research on sustainable methods to maintain coastlines and beaches. This gave me the sense of how we can take an economic theory, collect data, and formulate that theory into positive action. Ms. Keeling is the next step in the business of this kind of research, because she theorized a solution to the problem presented like in your research, then used her networks and business skills to make that idea a reality. Sustainability isn't just about what problems we face in the Anthropocene. It is about understanding the purpose of our efforts in the grand scheme of things, both past and future. It is about taking our problems and creating real, workable, and multidimensional solutions to our problems.
Toggle Commented Feb 1, 2022 on Sustainability Webinar at Jolly Green General
Having just taken econometrics, I find these studies to be very interesting from a perspective on theory. Your research shows clearly how economic theory and data combined with econometric models can be used to promote sustainability. By surveying people on their willingness to pay, you are able able to come up with a good level of confidence, the predicted choices that a consumer is going to make. Having just taken microeconomics, this is a big step in my mind of connecting the microeconomic theory with real results because we never explained in class how one actually goes about finding consumer preferences. With this in mind, you have made clear arguments, supported by data and theory, that point to a sustainable solution for Belize and Barbados by taking advantage of economic incentives. Although it wasn't explicitly talked about, this kind of research can be a strong foundation for more studies in other states that rely on coastal resources for tourism, like Greece, which could have significant effects on public policy to preserve these resources and their economic benefits. For me, the next step that I see is lobbying the government to make policy changes with this research. Talking at economics conferences, getting peer-reviewed, speaking with organizations like the EPA, and getting some publicity would be the next step to get noticed and for the economic engine to drive the political train in a sustainable direction that improves all parties involved. This is an excellent example of how economic theory and applied research can ultimately lead to positive benefits for society.
Toggle Commented Jan 27, 2022 on Readings for Thursday at Jolly Green General
I found that both of the articles make some large assumptions and generalizations that to some effect invalidates their points. In general, they both are talking about the logistical issues with minimizing costs by finding where the marginal damage and marginal abatement costs meet. The first article (Solow) generalizes that the idea of sustainability is unreachable because the costs would be too high. He immediately invalidates his argument first by ignoring the moral issue of sustainability. Although climate change has, is, and will have significant impacts on the lives of people, sustainability measures are not always taken for pure economic benefit. Often times there is a moral component that he completely ignores. The other problem is that he doesn't bother to create any meaningful solution for the problem he presents, which is just depressing. One point he does bring up is the time differential, which is interested. From a microeconomics perspective on the present and future value of investment, an economic argument could be made for sustainability measures by understanding the cost of wasting natural resources now rather than using them over time to create future returns on investment. He argues that investment rates would negate this idea, but anyone familiar with civilizations like the Mayans or Easter Island will know that mismanagement of resources will lead to collapse, even if the people of that society decided to use the resources now in a way similar to how "the market" works today. Ultimately I think this idea can be expanded on to create a more accurate model of the present and current value of natural resources to satisfy those who need a bit more than a moral push. On the other hand, Quiggin only discusses a few major issues, and ultimately decides that we need to work together for the common betterment of humanity. This solution is not really attainable in our current society, so not very useful. Instead, the focus should be on solving the political and economic incentives that can create a global working environment that helps to solve these problems. Our natural resources often suffer from the Tragedy of the Commons, and only by solving that multi-step Game Theory puzzle can we create global solutions to solve these global problems. Much like the how the EU is crafted upon decades of careful alliances in favor of national interests, the same must happen for nations and businesses to solve our greatest Tragedies of the Commons, lest we all become a Greek Tragedy ourselves.
Toggle Commented Jan 20, 2022 on Readings for Thursday at Jolly Green General
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Jan 19, 2022