Professors David Just and Brian Wansink of Cornell's Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, re-examined national data from 2007 to 2008 describing people's food habits based on their body mass index (BMI).
They discovered, that for all but the most overweight and underweight individuals, the consumption of soda, candy and fast food showed no link to BMI.
I've been interested in the correlation between food prices and obesity rates for a while (for example, see here). Now Cornell 'scientists' Just and Wansink (economists) seem to be supporting a contention I have made for a while: obesity rates are higher when calories are cheaper (demand slopes downward). So I am now in the process of writing the economists' guide to lower BMI. The book will be relatively short--2 pages. Page 1 will include a summary of all of the scientific data to date on the relationship between obesity and caloric intake: "EAT LESS." Page 2 will include all of the evidence on the relationship between obesity and physical activity: "EXERCISE MORE."
I see the logic in the case of transportation funding, but shudder at the thought, of more decisions being made at the state level. But, the environmental effects (in terms of efficiency) of lowering the federal gas tax, when it should be higher, are negative:
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is calling for the 18.4 cents-per-gallon gas tax that pays for most federal transportation projects to be cut by 80 percent.
The 2016 presidential hopeful said in a post on his campaign website that the gas tax should be cut because it is "outdated" and replaced by a system that allows states to take the lead on financing transportation projects.
He also vowed to veto any increase in the fuel levy if he is elected president. ...
Rubio is the second GOP presidential candidate to endorse the proposal to roll back federal gas taxes, joining Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), who called recently for gas tax to be eliminated and replaced with an increase in the use of tolls by states to pay for U.S. roads and bridge repairs.
This brings me back to my friend, Yoram Bauman, who sent me that headline. He is an environmental economist and stand-up comedian (yes, an unusual combo). He is also one of the leaders of the effort in Washington State to pass a carbon tax. He has been working tirelessly to build support.
Based on his experiences, he has a message for environmental activists: “I am increasingly convinced that the path to climate action is through the Republican Party. Yes, there are challenges on the right — skepticism about climate science and about tax reform — but those are surmountable with time and effort. The same cannot be said of the challenges on the left: an unyielding desire to tie everything to bigger government, and a willingness to use race and class as political weapons in order to pursue that desire.”
Yoram Bauman is a funny guy, but this time he is not joking.
I find no evidence that Yoram was not joking.
That said, can we all agree that politicians on the left and right are all getting it all wrong? This conclusion is always especially stark during the presidential campaign when the tax and other proposals cross the nonsensical barrier. I'm just waiting for someone to propose a 0% tax rate that would lead to enough economic growth that tax revenue will increase and eliminate the federal debt (or deficit, depending on the depth of your understanding of public finance).
This is an interesting approach. The damages in this case aren't from climate change itself, but rather the damages associated with giving false (or misleading) information to investors. The Al Capone and tax evasion approach.
The New York attorney general has begun an investigation of Exxon Mobil to determine whether the company lied to the public about the risks of climate change or to investors about how such risks might hurt the oil business.
According to people with knowledge of the investigation, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued a subpoena Wednesday evening to Exxon Mobil, demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents.
The investigation focuses on whether statements the company made to investors about climate risks as recently as this year were consistent with the company’s own long-running scientific research.
The Exxon inquiry might expand further to encompass other oil companies, according to the people with knowledge of the case, though no additional subpoenas have been issued to date.
The people spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to speak publicly about investigations that could produce civil or criminal charges. The Martin Act, a New York state law, confers on the attorney general broad powers to investigate financial fraud.
To date, lawsuits trying to hold fuel companies accountable for damage they are causing to the climate have failed in the courts, but most of those have been pursued by private plaintiffs.
Attorneys general for other states could join in Mr. Schneiderman’s efforts, bringing far greater investigative and legal resources to bear on the issue. Some experts see the potential for a legal assault on fossil fuel companies similar to the lawsuits against tobacco companies in recent decades, which cost those companies tens of billions of dollars in penalties.
“This could open up years of litigation and settlements in the same way that tobacco litigation did, also spearheaded by attorneys general,” said Brandon L. Garrett, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law. “In some ways, the theory is similar — that the public was misled about something dangerous to health. Whether the same smoking guns will emerge, we don’t know yet.”
[East Carolina University*]'s chancellor, who is stepping down next summer, just got a 19% pay raise.
The UNC Board of Governors gave Steve Ballard, and several other chancellors, pay raises in a controversial move on Friday. The board took the vote behind closed doors and only made the pay raises public today.
Ballard's salary went from $322,560 to $385,000. That increase is retroactive to July 1st.
Ballard, chancellor since 2004, announced in July that he would be stepping down July 1, 2016. The chancellor plans to take a faculty role in leadership for undergraduate students at the university.
"I certainly recognize that the timing of this increase will raise concerns," Ballard said in a statement. "Our faculty and staff have not been compensated adequately and yet they continue to excel and to implement our mission. Retaining our talent has been our first priority for several years but much more work remains."
ECU says the increase brings the chancellor pay closer to the market range identified by a Board of Governor's study released earlier this year.
Ballard's last salary hike was in 2012.
State employees received a $750 bonus from state lawmakers this year.
Dynamic adjustments could be a useful strategy for mitigating the costs of acute environmental shocks when timing is not a strictly binding constraint. To investigate whether such adjustments could apply to fertility, we estimate the effects of temperature shocks on birth rates in the United States between 1931 and 2010. Our innovative approach allows for presumably random variation in the distribution of daily temperatures to affect birth rates up to 24 months into the future. We find that additional days above 80 °F cause a large decline in birth rates approximately 8 to 10 months later. The initial decline is followed by a partial rebound in births over the next few months implying that populations can mitigate the fertility cost of temperature shocks by shifting conception month. This dynamic adjustment helps explain the observed decline in birth rates during the spring and subsequent increase during the summer. The lack of a full rebound suggests that increased temperatures due to climate change may reduce population growth rates in the coming century. As an added cost, climate change will shift even more births to the summer months when third trimester exposure to dangerously high temperatures increases. Based on our analysis of historical changes in the temperature-fertility relationship, we conclude air conditioning could be used to substantially offset the fertility costs of climate change.
"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."
Don't believe what they're saying
And allow me a quick moment to gush: ... The env-econ.net blog was more or less a lifeline in that period of my life, as it was one of the few ways I stayed plugged into the env. econ scene. -- Anonymous
... 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