Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Value and Valuation from Conservation Strategy Fund

Below are links to a great series of videos from Conservation Strategy Fund covering this week's topics:

Valuation of Ecosystem Services: Classes of Values

Valuation of Ecosystem Services: Intro to Valuation

Cost-Benefit Discounting 

CSF also has short videos on each of the valuation methods. 

Here is the full playlist at YouTube

Fees for plastic bags vs. bans

Starting on June 1, grocery stores in my home-away-from-home will charge a 15-cent fee for the use of plastic grocery bags. This initiative (basically a Pigouvian tax on an activity that generates a negative externality) has been in the works for many years and after a lot of discussion and push-back appears to be finally happening.

This particular externality has many potential solutions. A tax or fee can be imposed on the use of bags, consumers can receive a subsidy for bringing their own bags or for recycling bags, or plastic bags can be banned outright. Each of these alternatives has pros and cons.

Many areas have banned plastic bags. Examples include the state of California, the Outer Banks of NC, Austin, TX and Seattle, WA.  Some places also have fees for paper bags. 

Are bans on plastic bags beneficial? Maybe. Like many things that appear simple, it is a complicated issue and there are no easy answers.

Here is a short article at Scientific American on the effectiveness of bag bans.

Here is a longer article at GreenLiving noting some of the important drawbacks and unintended consequences associated with bag bans.

Here is a summary of research from the University of New Hampshire on the costs and benefits of different approaches.   Importantly, the research shows that in some cases, bans might not be as good for the environment as initially thought.  When lightweight plastic bags are banned, people tend to substitute thicker bags, which are worse. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

A delayed welcome - Summer 2017

Greetings class.  Apologies for the delay in posting.

Now that we have several days of study under our belts, I'm curious to know what you have learned about natural resource economics.  You don't have to answer all of these questions, but here are some things to consider.

For economics majors:  How is the study of natural resources different than the study of market goods and services?  How is the economics of natural resource use similar to the use of other goods and services?

For environmental studies majors:  Has your perspective on economics changed over the past week?
What were your initial perceptions of economics and what are your perceptions now?

For all students:  What does economics bring to the table in terms of understanding natural resource use and developing policy options to promote economic and environmental sustainability?