As a student studying environmental engineering, I'm curious to know what exactly is the role of an environmental economist? Does he add any value to onfield projects and what are the research opportunities available?
Let me answer with a few points:
An economist is good at weighing costs and benefits.
A good economist can also consider who gets the costs and who gets the benefits.
The environment creates benefits that are hard to quantify; economic activities can have environmental costs that are significant. An environmental economist can help you understand these BEFORE you even begin field work, as well as integrate them into choices made in the field ("gee, maybe you shouldn't release that tailwater into the river; people downstream don't like to drink pollution.")
There are many research opportunities, since engineers are not trained in talking to people about preferences, choices, tradeoffs and willingness to pay.
Today started over there and yesterday started around back:
A North Carolina university and a major technology company are tangled up in a court battle over which one of them has the right to turn an existential statement into a dull marketing slogan.
According to Reuters, East Carolina University is suing Cisco Systems Inc. over the company’s use of what the university says is its registered trademark, “Tomorrow Starts Here,” a phrase that plays prominently in the company’s new marketing campaign. ...
Steven C. Ballard, the university’s chancellor, said in a written statement on the university’s Web site that the slogan was nothing new for his university. He noted that the institution had been using it “for over a decade,” including in major advertisements. The university’s lawsuit seeks injunctive relief and damages, according to the statement.
A company spokeswoman told Reuters that the lawsuit was a surprise, adding that Cisco was “confident” that its campaign “does not create any confusion in the marketplace.”
A good way to remember this is to realize that
YOU'RE is short for "You are" (i.e. "You are invited"). The apostrophe (') replaces the "A" in "ARE".
Other versions of this type of word are:
I'm . . . he's . . . she's . . . we're . . . they're . . .
YOUR is just a possessive pronoun, the opposite of MY.
For example, "I like your shoes" "Is it your birthday?"
YOUR only relates to things that belong to someone.
Prof. Abel, who has written books on a wide range of topics,
including graffiti, genetic disorders and “Marihuana: the First Twelve
Thousand Years,” says names, initials and death just intrigue him.
“I do a lot of reading,” he says, “and like to speculate on a lot of
different aspects of behavior.” Baseball, Prof. Abel points out, is not
only a good place for data, it’s also more interesting than doing a
study on, say, academics. “What kind of kid grows up and wants to be an
economist?” he says.
Is that some sort of insult?
There are thousands of kids who grew up and wanted to be economists and these kids come in all shapes and sizes. Some of these kids are male, some are female. Some drink, some don't. Some are religious, some aren't. Most are a little more geeky than the average person (i.e., they like math, computers) . One reason is that being an economist is a relatively good job. Some of these economists agree with Prof. Abel and do research on the sports industry. However, some of them don't even like sports and choose to do research on other important, and interesting, topics. The broadest of these topics is improving our understanding of human behavior with an ultimate goal of making society better off in some small way (i.e., inquiries into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations).
That, sir, is the type of kid that grows up and wants to be an economist.
I realized recently that we haven't been getting questions submitted to the never dull Answer Desk. When I checked the Answer Desk link to the left I noticed that the time limit had expired for comments on the link and there was no place to submit a question. Knowing that there are millions* of you out there with pressing questions that only we can answer, I asked John if he could think of a solution (as you all know, he's the real brains behind this operation). Anyway, as usual, he asked 'how high?' when I asked him to jump and the link is fixed.
So the Env-Econ Answer Desk is open for business again**. Tell your friends, classmates, parents, in-laws. No question is off-limits and no question too stupid (but keep in mind the answers may be stupid). Ask away.
**Really I've been lacking in post ideas lately and I'm looking for you to save me before the*** Hammer of John comes down on me for being an anchor around his neck.
If you are unlucky enough to be looking for a job at the 2009 ASSA meetings in San Francisco (I won't be there so don't look for the guy wearing eyeglasses and an ill-fitting suit talking to himself on the sidewalk) during what is sure to be the crappiest market since the early 1990s, you definitely need to review my list of 20 ASSA job interview survival tips (originally posted January 2, 2008):
When the greeter at the door on the last day empathizes that the job market is really a grind don't mention that there is no way you could have handled the past three days without getting high.
If a questionner asks why you don't pursue [insert difficult extension to your theoretical model] in your dissertation, don't offer that it would be much harder and you need to wrap things up within the next year (the correct answer is I'm going to pursue that extension after my defense due to time constraints).
This advice is likely too late, but anyway, if you are a serious bodybuilder, time your steroids cycle so that you're not stacking before the interviews. No one takes a bulked up, raging, hairless, infertile PhD candidate very seriously.
Don't confuse "the boss" (Springsteen) with the department chair.
Don't read the interviewer's papers, unless they are on your graduate seminar's reading list (e.g., How am I supposed to respond to "Wow, your latest paper in the southern journal of environmental and resource economics and policy/management rocked! How, in god's name, did you do that?" I get that question ALL the time and, self-importantly, it is SO embarrassing.)
Don't glance at your watch, worrying about being on time to the next, better, interview.
Don't mention the insightful quirkiness of the E&UE blog.
Don't mention your interest in Heterodox theories, unless this is your dissertation. And if so, no offense, good luck!
Don't quote Mystery Men (e.g., "I just wanted to say that I had a really great time tonight, and you were really nice to me, and I would love to, uh, take you out some time. But if I don't call you I just want you to know that it's because I'm dead."), Seinfeld (e.g., "Look, Vanessa, of course the market fluctuates. Everybody knows that. I just got fluctuated out of four thousand dollars! ") or Fight Club (e.g., "You don't talk about fight club").
That is why economics is known as the dismal science. We strange economists are most adept at recognizing the opportunity costs of various decisions. No one else really seems to care if opportunity costs offset some, or all, of the benefits of a good idea.
Opportunity cost is a strange notion to some (especially intro micro students) ... it is the value of the next best alternative whenever a choice is made. For example, if I purchase a $1000 flat panel LCD TV, the true cost of the TV is not $1000, but what I could purchase instead (such as $500 in each kid's college education 529 plan [sorry kids]).
In the case of green energy subsidies, if you are an economist then you must at least wonder if this is the best way to spend the money. There are benefits of pushing down the costs of green energy (e.g., improved air quality), and there are opportunity costs. Ignoring the opportunity costs is likely to lead to wasteful spending. Considering the opportunity costs is likely to lead to better social decision making -- regardless of whether the benefits of the subsidies exceed the costs.
The notion of opportunity cost, its recognition and the inevitable result that not all great sounding ideas are really great ideas, is the most important thing that economists bring to many policy discussions. Pointing out the unpleasantantries of opportunity cost is one of the purposes of this blog. The dismal part of the dismal science can not be avoided.
Reader Jason Welker received the following question from a high school student:
It’s very interesting how this whole marketing pollution rights works. In this way the “commons” in the tragedy of the commons becomes privatized, and companies are forced to take responsibility for their pollution which is being dumped into the atmosphere. I do have one question, though, and that is how does one regulate the amount of pollution a factory dispenses into the air? How can the government be sure that a firm is not violating the law by dumping more than its licensed amount?
My question: Why do Jason's high school students ask better questions than my PhD students?
"This blog aims to look at more of the microeconomic ideas that can be used toward environmental ends. Bringing to bear a large quantity of external sources and articles, this blog presents a clear vision of what economic environmentalism can be."
... the Environmental Economics blog ... is now the default homepage on my browser (but then again, I guess I am a wonk -- a word I learned on the E.E. blog). That is a very nice service to the profession. -- Anonymous
"... I try and read the blog everyday and have pointed it out to other faculty who have their students read it for class. It is truly one of the best things in the blogosphere." -- Anonymous