Maybe this could go into your "teaching" category. I have students keep a log of externalities, both positive and negative, that they both generate and experience. Winston Oakley sent me this, which I thought was env-econ worthy. He gave me permission to send it to you.
I wake up in the morning to my alarm. I start flipping on lights. I turn on the radio to listen to the news. I cook my breakfast on my electric stove. Everything uses electricity; electricity generated by a coal-burning power plant. That burnt coal sends tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, degrading air quality and contributing to global warming. But those costs aren’t included in my electric bill. The first externality of the day is on me.
I get ready and head to the bus stop. I hop on the bus and ride to campus. It gets me there by burning diesel. Once again, I’m degrading air quality and contributing to global warming. These costs aren’t covered [in] the price of the bus fare. Another negative externality on my part.
After attending a class I head to the student lounge to study. I sit down and start looking over my class materials. My concentration is broken when two other students start up a boisterous conversation. They’re having a great time, but my ability to study suffers. Negative externality on them. A few minutes later, a friend of mine comes into the lounge and it’s our turn create an externality. Now our conversation interferes with their work. Payback sucks.
My classes get done and I wait at the bus stop to head home. Another student walks up and stands nearby, also waiting for the bus. He decides to take this opportunity to enjoy a cigarette. The smoke blows over to the air I’m breathing. He gets all the enjoyment from smoking, I get the second-hand externality.
I get back to my apartment building and walk inside. It’s dinner time and the smell of each resident’s cooking seeps out into the hallway. It smells awful. They can’t really be eating something that smells like that, can they? Maybe it tastes better than it smells. Either way, they get the benefit of eating it; I have to suffer through the smell. I get in my apartment and make my own dinner. I wonder if it smells that bad out in the hallway…
I strum the guitar for a while to unwind. I play hard and sing loud. The walls of my building aren’t that thick, so I know my neighbors can hear every note. They didn’t have to pay extra to live next to a talented musician. Nope, they get that all for free. At least I finish the day with a positive externality. If any of my neighbors say differently they’re just jealous.
Thanks Frances! Thanks Winston!