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Rachana Ghimire
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I have listened to Professor Greer’s talk last year as a freshman, and I have also taken her global climate change class, so this video was a refresher of what I’ve learned last year. I think Professor Greer does a wonderful job at separating fact from fiction. She specifically focuses on the science behind climate change. Looking at the data and interpreting it, one can clearly see that we have gone off the trend. There is a lot of myth circulating around the general public about climate change. I don’t really understand how it got to this point, and I don’t see what scientists have to “gain” from saying that global climate change exists, and that is happening as a result of human activity. I think talks like Professor Greer’s would be helpful to educate the general public and get rid of some of the myths that they may have heard. A lot of businesses and politicians have different agendas, and acknowledging that global climate exists would pose a threat to their plans. This further complicates a problem that is already complex. For Thursday’s class, I think it would be interesting to look at some of the myths that are circulating around, and discussing ways to dispel some of them. This would ensure that everyone is on board and at least acknowledging that global climate change exists. After this initial step, we can look at possible solutions to resolving the negative effects of climate change.
Toggle Commented Mar 24, 2015 on Climate Talk at Jolly Green General
I think it would be interesting to discuss the topic of exotic and invasive species on Thursday. Kahn discusses this topic in Chapter 14. In my “Ecology of Place” class last spring, I did my project over invasive species, and I do not think people are aware of how damaging they actually are. This is not just ecologically, but economically as well. Through my research, I found that the cost of invasive species is in the billions. This is mainly from the costs of trying to eradicate the invasive species, which is very costly and very difficult. The best way that I found to ensure a healthy ecosystem is to ensure that we have good preventative measures. After an invasive species finds itself in another habitat, most are prolific. They will embed themselves in the habitat very quickly, and it is almost near impossible to get rid of them. There have only been a handful of successful eradications. It’s also interesting how many invasive species are actually in the back campus of Washington and Lee University, including Japanese honey suckle and garlic mustard. However, I also think it’s important to draw a distinction between exotic and nonnative species and invasive species. Just because a species is nonnative does not mean that it is invasive. There have been successful attempts where a non-native species has embedded itself into the habitat, and it was not harmful to the ecosystem. I’m pretty sure the honey bee is an example of this. Though it is not native to the United States, it has been considered part of the United States for quite a while. It’s important that people understand this distinction. Invasive species actually harm the ecosystem that they are in whereas a non-native species would not necessarily harm the ecosystem. Furthermore, I think it would interesting to go more in depth about how the most biodiversity is usually found in the poorest countries. Kahn discusses the importance of biodiversity in chapter 14 and focuses on the costs on losing biodiversity. We’ve been taught that biodiversity is important, and we know that we should be preserving biodiversity. However, I feel that often times; biodiversity is just seen from a first-world perspective in a sense. The most diverse regions with an abundance of species are usually in countries that are not economically rich. They cannot necessarily bear the burden of preserving biodiversity. For example, I’m originally from Nepal, and Nepal has an abundance of natural resources, animals, beautiful landscapes, etc. etc. Though we do get tourists, I’m not sure if the revenue generated from tourism is enough. Furthermore, it is not fair who benefits from the tourists. People that are more business-minded get pretty much the full benefits from tourists, while the rest of the nation is still left poor and starving. There are so many people living in poverty, especially children. The government is not adequate to allocate resources effectively, so tourism is not enough to cover these costs. While preserving the natural landscapes is important, I’m not sure that it is being done in the correct ways when it comes to third world countries. I wish it didn’t have to be saving people vs. preserving the environment, and it would be nice to discuss possible solutions to these problems, and if any measures have been taken in other countries to address this issue. We cannot ask third world countries to bear the full cost of preserving the environment without providing enough incentive to do so.
Toggle Commented Mar 11, 2015 on For Thursday at Jolly Green General
I agree with Matthew that the ‘carrot’ and ‘stick’ methods were interesting in the paper. I believe that providing incentives would work much better than trying to enforce a policy for the local fisherman. Trying to enforce a policy in a place that does not necessarily want the policy in place probably would not have favorable outcomes for the local fisherman. Instead, providing economic incentives could help meditate the problem. However, as many people have already stated, I worry about the local fisherman even with the economic incentives. Matthew brings up a good point: Who is at fault for the low number of fish in the seas? In developing countries, it is often the case that outside companies come in to exploit the resources and leave. I’m not necessarily saying that this is true for this individual case, but it is important to remember that developing countries may not necessarily like the limitations that they are put with when they don’t exactly know what they have done wrong. Furthermore, it is important to remember that fishing may be a way of life for these people, and it is imbedded in their culture. Providing a few economic incentives would not necessarily be able to change opposition if there is some. I think that in order for an MPA to be successful and for the local people to be on board with it, you need to someone from the local side to explain what is happening and why. The paper pointed out that the people that were cooperating from the start felt that it was unfair because there were still people fishing illegally. While there will always be some outliers that do not necessarily follow regulations, it is important to ensure that most everyone is on board with the policy or even the ones that were on board at first will tend to oppose regulations. I also think that it is important to consult the local fisherman and find out what they think about the policies and regulations. Getting the local fishermen’s viewpoints would help when figuring out the best way to handle the situation to where you can try to maintain the fish populations while keeping the local people happy as well. After all, it is their way life that is being affected by the regulation, and it only seems fair that they have a say in what happens as well. Another question that I have is that what level of economic incentives would work in order to get local fishermen on board. Simply providing new technology and nets may not be enough if fishing is a big aspect in their livelihoods. The paper suggests that we should look at each individual village as they have different responses to different regulations, and I completely agree with that. Each village probably has a different set of norms, so regulations need to be adjusted to account for all this. I think, though, that this paper offers some insights about Tanzania that would provide vague insights for what may work in other developing countries in the world facing similar issues.
Toggle Commented Feb 11, 2015 on Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
The paper “Recreational SCUBA divers’ willingness to pay for marine biodiversity in Barbados” explores the topic of putting a value on something that is not necessarily a market good. I thought it was interesting that they placed a price on biodiversity by asking scuba divers to take a survey and then using that to infer how valuable they think corals are. There may be some level of bias in this type of study as scuba divers may value corals more than the general public, so it would not be safe to assume this is true for everyone, but I think it brings us closer to the real estimate of how much people value marine biodiversity in Barbados. I do agree though that this is mainly focused on tourists so it does not paint an accurate picture of how much the native people in Barbados value marine biodiversity, which I think would be important to explore as well. Though there are problems with survey type experiments, I think it still aids in policy making decisions which is exactly what the paper suggests. The paper at the end states “that conservation is good economic policy” from all the evidence they gathered from the surveys, and I think using more studies like this one would be a powerful tool in getting environmental regulations passed. Often times, people get many benefits from conservation without paying any price and showing evidence that the general public values conservation would aid in policy making decisions to resolve this issue.
Toggle Commented Jan 28, 2015 on Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
In “Conservation Reconsidered” by John V. Krutilla, I thought it was interesting the way he laid out how we don’t know all the science behind the natural environment, so it is hard to put a price on it per se. For example, he gives an instance about how different natural plants are being used for medicinal purposes. In fact, half of the new medicines currently being made are from different natural plants that we wouldn’t necessarily have if biodiversity was low. Hence, we cannot really predict the future value of biodiversity in the environment. This was another interesting concept that that Krutilla kept mentioning. He brings up the future repeatedly throughout his paper to demonstrate that we do not necessarily know what is going to happen, so is it better to be safe rather than sorry? And do we have a moral obligation to future generations to conserve the environment? Going back to the medicine example, future generations may need different plants to combat the different diseases that may plague society. If we do not conserve the environment well, the chemicals that they need in a particular plant might not exist. This is something that I feel that economists do not really delve into as much, but they are important questions to consider when thinking about conservation for the future, even if it is from an ethical stand-point.
Toggle Commented Jan 21, 2015 on Readings for Thursday at Jolly Green General
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Jan 21, 2015