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Gabriella Kitch
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While I took Professor Greer's Global Climate Change class as a freshman, this talk served as a great reminder to the complexities of the climate system with its drivers and amplifiers or feedback systems. I know that during the course, many of my personal misconceptions were shattered, and I believe this talk did the same for many people. This may be best exemplified by the fact that only six people in the crowd knew that according to the natural cycle, we are supposed to be nearing a ice box period. In contrast to what some of my peers have mentioned above, I do believe that Professor Greer did talk about some of the immediate threats of climate change, although maybe not as explicitly as some people might have liked. The Little Ice Age and the issues that the colder climate brought for food security, disease, and also political turmoil, were examples as to how climate change can effect social systems along with ecological ones. While Professor Greer did not delve into the issues we are currently facing (like Nina mentions above sea level rise, etc) I believe this is intentional to remove all politicized notions of climate change. Rather I believe that Professor Greer's talk is intended to give people the tools, or give them the curiosity to seek out the tools, to understand climate change, its history, and its importance in today's world. Professor Greer's talk and method of teaching is unique and invaluable in that regard; instead of simply pushing the outcomes of climate change models or the worst case senariors to get people's attention, Professor Greer presents all of the data that goes into the models, the importance of these data, and the trends and changes these data predict. Informing the general public of the hard science behind climate change is the first step in taking a stand to mitigate or adapt to it. On Thursday I would like to talk about better ways to educate people about climate change in a way they will listen to the science rather than the politics, especially in terms of educating public officials.
Toggle Commented Mar 24, 2015 on Climate Talk at Jolly Green General
For tomorrow's class period, I think it would be interesting to further discuss Chapter 17 on Agriculture and the Environment. After reading the chapter, I believe there are two main topics that need to be addressed or expanded upon. Although I believe Kahn outlined the majority of issues regarding agriculture, I believe he left out the large issue of transportation costs and the additional impact this has on the environment. Specifically I would like to address what the best way to mitigate these externalities, especially if these goods are being transported to developing countries in which case a tax on transportation would introduce equity issues. On the topic of equity, I would also like the section of Chapter 17 that discusses the the agriculture subsidy program in the United States vs an environmental subsidy program and specifically how such a program would affect supply and demand for various types of goods (normal, GMO, organic, and "green" produced plants). In term of Chapter 14, I would like to discuss the role of environmental education plays in biodiversity. It seems like an overarching theme in the concluding section of Chapter 14 is that habitat and biodiversity protection can only be maintained through a set of command and control policies. However, Kahn mentions that "policies aimed at the supply side alone cannot be effective...campaigns that make it socially unacceptable to use animal products can eliminate the profitability of the illegal trade." It seems like this thought could be expanded to promote a societal shift of making it socially unacceptable to degrade the environment in general, making policies to protect habitats and biodiversity more effective. In my opinion, this can effectively be done through increased environmental education that heavily favors time spent outdoors, however I feel like it would be an interesting discussion to have through an economic perspective.
Toggle Commented Mar 11, 2015 on For Thursday at Jolly Green General
As mentioned by many of the above posts and the authors themselves, the economic welfare of local fishers is often glanced over when looking at conservation plans for MPA's and other resources. One point that the authors make at the end of their paper, is that the Brundtland Commission, which discusses compensations for the "loser" side of conservation efforts, is still ignored in conservation efforts today. I believe this paper, like the Brundtland Commission itself, in a larger sense offers another example of the disconnect between social advocates/policy makers and scientists. In the case for MPA's, especially in Mnazi Bay, there seems to have been heavy emphasis on the science of conservation rather than the social costs and compensation needed for conservation. This disconnect is often difficult to merge, as highlighted by the author's account of MBREMP official's frustration with their dual role as conservationists and development experts. Furthermore, if countries do not have access to interdisciplinary development experts, as lower income countries usually are due to lack of higher education, the third-party working to make a policy may again overlook aspect highly valued to the locals even if the policy is interdisciplinary in nature. Additionally, beyond a disconnect between science and social policy, this paper also seems to highlight an issue with being narrow minded in what a potential solution would be. The paper discussed agriculture as an alternative to fishing, and that higher enforcement may cause a shift from an fishing community to an agricultural community. Regardless of the economic impacts of this shift, in terms of conservation, this solution may be short term as additional runoff and nutrients would soon begin to affect ocean chemistry and marine habitats. Although the solution to conservation areas is most complex, I believe the author's start the right conversation in noticing the intricacies of conservation efforts.
Toggle Commented Feb 12, 2015 on Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
Although I agree with many that placing a monetary value on the benefit SCUBA divers gain from diving in Barbados is an interesting point, in my opinion the most intriguing point is made in the conclusion of the paper. The authors then state that it may be possible for the economic gains of conservation to motivate growing conservation efforts. Although it seems plausible that ecotourism will motivate more people to learn about those ecosystems they are able to experience and therefore cause them to be more keen on preserving them, in what ways are these individuals going to be able to preserve them? Say for instance, someone from Texas went SCUBA diving in Barbados and fell in love with sea turtles, how are they going to be able to further prevent the destruction of their habitat? I'm sure they could encourage all of their friends to go dive in Barbados, or sponsor a turtle through a conservancy program, but will this ultimately conserve the sea turtles? The sea turtles habitat, the coral reef, is diminishing due to ocean acidification and an increase of ocean temperatures resulting in coral bleaching. This is a result of a global impact on the ocean. In this case, how can conservation, and the benefit derived from it, be any more of a temporary benefit than fishing the reef would be?
Toggle Commented Jan 28, 2015 on Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
To return to Sarah's question regarding Krutilla's answer to why a market has not developed for option demand, I believe the author does hesitantly answer the question in saying that if a natural area is seen as threatend, an organization such as the Nature Conservancy will buy such land. However, although such an option demand for natural features has developed Krutilla points out that the market is "grossly imperfect". From what I gathered, the imperfections in the market come from lack of knowledge of the investors about what makes the piece of land more deserving of conservation than others, the lack of knowledge of what part of the land will be given to scientific research, and the fact that the preserved land is not intended for just local use and therefore incurs issues that all public goods do. Does that answer your question? What I found most interesting in Krutilla's essay is his ultimate policy plan, which would take into consideration both the demand to use the land for scientific research/education and also the demand of those interested in outdoor recreation. It seems odd to me that he has left out the demand for land to remain untouched. Although it seems like Krutilla places value on untouched nature in saying that as time continues, the value of nature features will be compounded, however his policy plan does not seem to reflect this notion. Is he claiming that in order to receive benefit from the natural feature, individuals must actively participate in them? Will this outdoor recreation will leave the natural feature unchanged? Or, more simply, is he claiming that outdoor recreation and complete preservation fall under the same category? If so does that give either category the appropriate attention for such a policy objective?
Toggle Commented Jan 21, 2015 on Readings for Thursday at Jolly Green General
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Jan 20, 2015