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?

3 comments:

Tom Connolly said...

Would the negative externality cost of this study/activity be the loss/reduction in healthy, living coral reefs? It seems like the coral reefs are the third party because they don't have anything to do with our production/consumption, but they are taking the brunt of the abuse.

One solution for stoping human excrement from reaching coral-infested waters is to build better septic tanks that don't leak human excrement into the groundwater/soil as easily, or other more effective waste-water treatment plans which would prohibit waste water from coming anywhere close to groundwater or ocean water.

Alex Cashion said...

This is quite a big deal seeing as it is the first known human-to-invertabrate disease transmission. We need to really shape up how we are dumping human excrement. The obvious solution to me would be to do as the article says: upgrade or replace waste dumping methods. An upgrade to waste management facilities should be mandatory - keep our oceans clean!!

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