Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The political history of cap & trade

Good reading here at Smithsonian.com

Turtle bycatch improving

Here's an article from the local paper describing the downward trend in sea turtle bycatch. Turtle- excluder devices (TEDs) seem to be helping on a national scale but the NC fishers interviewed for the article don't seem to think that bycatch is an issue here. The article also cites a decreased number of vessels in the water (due to low profit causing exit from the industry) and a performance standard.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

the Coase Theorem in action

Here at the WSJ

Here at the Independent

the true cost of a gallon of gas

Here is a report suggesting that externalities bring the true cost of a gallon of gas up significantly (between $5 and $15). The report is several years old and pre-9/11, so we can probably assume that the numbers would be higher today.

Here's a piece by Ezra Klein at the Washington Post from 2010 that discusses the same issues.

More here at Catalyst.

Collective action requires incentives

Gernot Wagner (an economist at Environmental Defense Fund) has a thought-provoking piece in yesterday's New York Times. He hits on a lot of issues that we've been discussing in class or will discuss later in the semester. Notably topics are the need for incentives to curtail externalities and the notion that it's easy to make marginal movements toward being "green" when you're rich.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Elkhorn coral and pollution

Next week we'll be beginning our discussion of externality theory, which allows us to look at the inefficiency created when costs are created by a market but are not accounted for in the price of the good. Once we understand the cause of the inefficiency, we can develop measures to address it.

Externality theory is easily understood in the context of pollution in its many forms. Here is a study suggesting that white pox disease in elkhorn corals is attributable to improperly treated human waste. We can categorize solutions into two broad groups: "command-and-control" (standards) and incentive-based systems.

What are the external costs associated with this pollution?
What solutions might work?