Sunday, October 31, 2010

the Nagoya Protocol

United Nations member states agreed to a set of provisions - dubbed the Nagoya Protocol - aimed at reducing species loss. Read about it here at the NY Times or here at the Guardian.

A critical aspect of the negotiations relates to the property rights associated with goods and services derived from plants and animals. Suppose country A discovers genetic information from a species in country B, and then uses that information (coupled with other inputs, lots of R&D, etc..) to produce and sell a good that earns $X in revenue.

How does requiring A to provide B with a share of X address the basic economic cause of the extinction problem? Lots of topics from our course can be considered: discount rates, common property resources, the importance of property rights (Coase), negative and positive externalities, the distribution of costs and benefits and how that affects individual incentives.

There's some other interesting stuff here, including the requirement of payment for genetic info discovered in the past, the lack of an agreement on how to finance such payments, and the importance of biodiversity for economic growth.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Valuation in the Gulf

From USA Today

Note the distinction between monetary compensation and compensatory restoration.

I've done some work on the NRDA process and damages to fisheries from small spills. Obviously, the Gulf spill falls under "type B".

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

National Petrolium Reserve

The National Petroleum Reserve (near ANWR) doesn't appear as useful for extraction as previously believed. Read about it here at CNN. Related story here (note the last paragraph). History here.

Implications for land rent?
Implications for conservation?
Implications for extraction from other areas?
Will this affect petroleum prices?
Implications for renewable energy policy?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

This is cool

Clean and green.

More here.

Would you buy this?

The double-edged sword of tourism

People come to see the natural resources, economy grows, external effects are not internalized, natural resource suffers. Read a recent example in the news here. What kinds of policies might be useful to remedy these types of situations? What types of research questions should be answered first? Are economic growth and nature-based tourism compatible?

Trees are good

A version of this story appeared in today's local paper.
Trees do a great job cleaning up the air.
What are the implications for policy?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A cement plant, a cruise ship port, an airport, or something else?

There's an interesting development vs. conservation issue on the horizon in St. Lucy, Barbados. Read about it here at the Barbados Advocate. The Arawak cement plant is currently located in the relatively undeveloped northwest region of the island, near Maycock's Bay. The plant is located right on the coast, and if you swim in the area you see a film of particulate matter on the surface of the sea. In addition to this air pollution, the plant is also quite noisy. The combination of air, noise and water pollution no doubt creates a host of negative external effects for nearby residents. The site apparently looks appealing for a new cruise ship port, or perhaps a new airport. Of course, the land could also be set aside for conservation, or developed for residential uses.

What can we say about how land rents for the area will depend on alternative uses? What kind of research questions might we consider before going forward? Does anyone have an indication as to how this might play out?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Implications for land rent?

Soils in the southern hemisphere are drying up.

Read about it here at Science Daily

Word of the day: "Envirotranspiration"

Aside: 30+ authors on the study! Four is considered a lot for an econ article. What is it about the natural sciences that leads to such a huge number of co-authors on research articles?

Offshore energy

Wind or oil?

A new study from Oceana
suggests that offshore wind energy could be more cost effective and create more jobs than offshore oil.

Coming soon to a gas station near you ... E15

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is about to approve 15% ethanol blends in motor fuels (most gas today has 10%).

Economic implications?
Good for the environment? Bad? It depends?

Read the story at:


The Wall Street Journal


Here's a story from the New York Times in 2008 that addresses both the econ and the environmental effects of biofuels (thanks to Gina at env-econ for the link). Gotta love it when a basic understanding of economics helps you see unintended consequences.

Aside: There's only one gas station here in Wilmington where you can buy non-ethanol gasoline... does anyone know where it is?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mining is profitable

What's going on here?

Why is the mining of natural resources so profitable during an economic downturn?

Are there externality issues that should be addressed? If so, how, and how might addressing externalities affect profitability and social well-being?

We'll be starting our study of mineral extraction soon.

Are electric cars really better for the environment?

Interesting article from here

Popular mechanics likes them

We have a chicken-and-the-egg problem

Should EV's be subsidized?
How about pushing fuel economy via command-and-control?

Read one viewpoint here, and the other here.
(Warning: strong opinions and normative content in the articles)

What do you think?

There's a much deeper issue underlying all of this: Can individuals (and nations) on the lower end of the income spectrum afford to be green? Are higher income individuals (and nations) who most certainly create more pollution in some way obligated to do more abatement?

200 new species

This happens every year and it always amazes me... we know so much and at the same time we're clueless.

Economic implications?


"Global Work Party" day... seems a strange name.
Are you doing anything on Sunday?
Why? Why not?

NFWF and fisheries catch shares

Read about it here.

How do catch shares work? (we'll get to this later in the term, but you can start researching it now)

Is this command-and-control, incentives or combination policy?

Why is NFWF providing money for this type of research?

NOAA fisheries research

Here's a link to an outline of NOAA grant support for endangered species research.

Can you link one or more of these to a valuation research question?

That is, once the science is complete, how might the resulting information be combined with economic valuation (market or non-market) to address a policy question?

What valuation techniques might be employed?