May it please the court of public opinion: The Southern Environmental Law Center concedes that its attorneys work in Chapel Hill offices that might – on certain summer occasions – be regarded as air-conditioned.
But as to the charge of latte-drinking: Not guilty.
“They probably drink Coca-Colas and coffee,” Tom Taft Sr. of Greenville, an attorney and former state senator who serves on the non-profit environmental law firm’s board of trustees, told the Road Worrier. “But not expensive coffee.” ...
Derb S. Carter Jr., who heads the SELC office in Chapel Hill, said the jibe about lattes was “among many inaccuracies” in last week’s broadsides from McCrory and Tata.
“I actually hate lattes, and drink black coffee,” Carter said.
The Theoretical Economics Letters (TEL), a peer-reviewed open-access journal, is seeking papers for the upcoming special issues. We would like to invite contributors like you to submit papers that may shed some light on these issues through our Paper Submission System.
I've written a bunch of theoretical letters in my head. Fortunately, I don't hit send on most of those letters.
John managed earlier today to post an 842 word rant (don't make John angry, you wouldn't like him when he's angry) over the ridiculousness and arbitrariness of seemingly intelligent researchers choosing choice experiments over contingent valuation based on...well...the ridulous and arbitrary (and wrong) assumption that choice experiments somehow magically avoid the perceived woes of contingent valuation. I'm not sure I can put it any better than John did, and that's really not my point here. My point is that John managed to coherently rant for 842 words without citing or linking to this outstanding piece in the December 2013 issue of the journal Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy**.
“In his prolific and cutting-edge research, Michael has revolutionized the way we think about energy economics,” said John List, chairman of Economics. “He will be a leader in his field for decades to come, and his work will further broaden the impact of UChicago’s innovative thinking and research across disciplines and geographic boundaries.”
I'm looking forward to tailgating with Greenstone and List at the Centre vs Chicago football games!
*A number of alternative titles using epic, the most overused word ever, have crossed my mind ... but I like this one best: Michael Greenstone, obviously, is an unusually large, powerful or wonderful economist.
**Have you noticed a trend at this blog? We'll post anything to add a link to our paper? Yes, you noticed.
They floated down from the sky Sunday — 2,000 mice, wafting on tiny cardboard parachutes over Andersen Air Force Base in the U.S. territory of Guam.
But the rodent commandos didn't know they were on a mission: to help eradicate the brown tree snake, an invasive species that has caused millions of dollars in wildlife and commercial losses since it arrived a few decades ago.
That's because they were dead. And pumped full of painkillers.
The unlikely invasion was the fourth and biggest rodent air assault so far, part of an $8 million U.S. program approved in February to eradicate the snakes and save the exotic native birds that are their snack food.
It's not just birds the government is trying to protect. It's also money.
Andersen, like other large industrial complexes on the Western Pacific island, is regularly bedeviled by power failures caused when the snakes wriggle their way into electric substations — an average of 80 a year, costing as much as $4 million in annual repair costs and lost productivity, the Interior Department estimated in 2005.
OK, I'll give the CBA a try. Let's suppose that the cost of the creepy-drugged-mouse snake eradication program ($8m) consists of eight annual payments of $1m over the next eight years. At 5% discount rate, the present value of the costs is $6.46m.
Now let's consider the benefits. Because the story uses the language 'as much as' $4 million in annual prevented repair costs, I'm going to be super conservative and assume the savings are half that at $2 million per year. If that savings begins after complete eradication of the terrorist snakes (after 8 years) and lasts for 10 years (again being conservative--I could have made this a perpetual savings and really jacked up the benefit number), the present value of the cost savings alone is $10.45m.
And that doesn't even account for the benefits of keeping around the Guamian (is that a word?) exotic birds.
Groan, I know, but use this one if you are tired of those Florida freeze examples:
A rare collision of ill-timed rain, marauding animals and a growing love affair between the Chinese middle class and the pecan has resulted in the worst pecan supply in recent memory. As a result, grocery store prices are up by about 30 percent ....
In 2012, the nation’s pecan orchards produced about 302 million pounds of pecans. This year, that number could drop by as much as 35 percent, according to industry officials. In Georgia, the nation’s leading pecan-producing state, the crop is expected to be about half of what it was last year. In South Carolina, some orchards succumbed completely.
The problem began with record rainfall last spring and summer. Pollination became difficult, and the moisture encouraged disease. Pecan growers sprayed their fields in record amounts, but it was not enough to fight off a disease called scab.
In Texas and Oklahoma, it was a summer drought that hurt the trees. Then came autumn’s heavy rain, which made the ground too wet to hold the heavy equipment that shakes nuts from trees and sweeps them up.
As a result, harvesting was sporadic, and the pecan supply was left wide open for feral pigs, which have become quite a problem in Texas, and for squirrels, which are always looking for a free nut. ...
The bad nut crop has a few other causes, one of which is the cyclical nature of pecans: Typically, if one year is good, the next year is not.
Last year, for example, Texas produced about 65 million pounds of pecans, said Larry Stein, a professor of horticulture at Texas A&M University. Most estimates indicate that this year will bring no more than 35 million pounds. ...
In the mid-2000s, the market for pecans in China began to grow rapidly. China now consumes more than a third of the American pecan crop, a development that followed the country’s inclusion in the World Trade Organization in 2001.
The Bet is Yale University historian Paul Sabin's (no relation to Nick) telling of the story and political culture surrounding Paul Ehrlich and Julian Simon's 1980-1990 $1,000 bet over the Hotelling rule. OK, it wasn't really over the Hotelling rule, but it was about Hotelling-like predictions of changes in depletable resource prices. In particular, the bet focused on the change in prices of five metals (Copper, tin, chromium, nickel and tungsten--I think they made that last one up) over a 10 year period. Whack-job dooms-day ecologist Paul Ehrlich--OK, that's unfair to Ehrlich, he is a butterfly biologist, not an ecologist (is that biased?)--famously predicted throughout the late 1960's and 1970's the coming cataclysmic collapse of the Earth's environmental/ecological systems due to natural limits and exponential population growth.
In short, Ehrlich believed that humans are but one part of the broad ecosystem, and subject to all of the natural laws and limits that come with being part of that system--including species collapse due to exceeding the system's natural carrying capacity. Ehrlich was the loudest voice of the early zero-economic growth movement (and a contemporary of the Club of Rome and Limits to Growth). One observable indicator of Ehrlich's and his colleagues' dire predictions would be the Hotelling-like rise in depletable resource prices over time. As resources become more scarce (reach their natural limits), prices would have to rise. This is a somewhat ironic prediction from Ehrlich given the lack of price rationing in the Limits to Growth-type models of world collapse, but I digress.
Julian Simon, a mild-manned Chicago-trained University of Illinois professor of marketing (who eventually ended up in the University of Maryland School of Business), disagreed with Ehrlich's basic premise that population growth necessarily strained the natural limits of the ecosystem and instead argued that scarcity creates increasing opportunity costs and opportunities for investment, exploration, discovery, innovation and development of subsitute forms of capital. In short, Simon the economist argued that the simple form of Hotelling (prices rise in response to increasing scarcity) was correct, but the extension needs to be accounted for--increasing prices create incentives for the generation/investment/invention of alternative resources. Simon believes that increased in population actually increased general well being, increased the stock of human capital and would ultimately result in the creation of substitute pools of resources (whether natural or man-made). Simon believed that man-made capital would remain substitutable for depleted natural capital and resource prices would fall.
In the end, Simon won the bet and Ehrlich paid off without much fanfare. But in Sabin's view, the bet highlighted a growing set of divides: The academic divide between ecoologists and economists on matters of the environment, the philosophical divide between growthers and zero-growthers, and the political divide between the left and the right over matters of economic management. Sabin does an intriguing job of couching the bet within the heated political environment of the 1970's and 80's tracing the environmental movement through the national political scene from the environmental conservatism of Nixon, to the limited growth/strict conservation advocacy of Carter (not much mention of Ford), to the deregulated free-marketism of Reagan. In the end Sabin draws lessons from both Ehrlich and Simon to make a strong and lucid case for a middle ground between the coercive population reduction arguments of Ehrlich and the free-market environmentalism of Simon.
On a personal note, I found the book particularly useful at providing a different perspective on my own training in environmental economics. Beginning my graduate training in 1991, the year after the bet ended, the foundations of market-based environmental interventions had already been accepted by most economists and much of the mainstream public (to varying degrees of course). "The Bet" provides an interesting, easy-to-read introduction to the muddy politics and social setting that served as a backdrop for the development and relevance of the field of environmental economics. The political and public context provided by "The Bet" has helped to provide me with a much better understanding of how I ended up thinking like I do about environmental issues.
Holes in ASS? I'm thinking I could have written a better title ... so it is time for a little holiday post title contest. Write your entry into the comments box. The winner could receive a free turkey dinner (but check out my second entry -- beat that!)!
Also, this reminds me of the name of Dan Petrolia's research group: Coastal Research and Policy.
Every once in a while (once a month hour?) I click on our Stat Counter (on the right) to make sure people are still paying attention. I usually also click on the 'Came From' tab to see what sites are leading to Env-Econ. Usually, the list is populated with Google Searches and references from other blogs. Occasionally if a mainstream news site pics up one of our inane posts, we will get a visit spike from that site. But this morning when i clicked on the Stat Counter, I saw the list below.
"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