I stopped sending my env-econ.net posts to my facebook account (I'm sure some of my facebook friends get annoyed by them ... some "friends", right?). The link for our blog site is here: https://www.facebook.com/environmentalecon. I *think* all of our posts are arriving via RSS Graffiti (if anyone knows of a better way to do it please let me know).
That’s welcome news for the 12,000 Americans who have the disease, which is devastating and ultimately fatal, and for their families and future generations.
Now before I go much further, I will admit that we have a family friend (father of our kids' friends) who has been battling ALS for the past three years and I may not be fully objective when it comes to my views below, but anyway, if the campaign is working so well, then WHY DOES WILL OREMUS SPEND THE REST OF HIS ARTICLE CRITICIZING THE ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE?
Yet it’s hard to shake the feeling that, for most of the people posting ice bucket videos of themselves on Facebook, Vine, and Instagram, the charity part remains a postscript. Remember, the way the challenge is set up, the ice-drenching is the alternative to contributing actual money. Some of the people issuing the challenges have tweaked the rules by asking people to contribute $10 even if they do soak themselves. Even so, a lot of the participants are probably spending more money on bagged ice than on ALS research.
Yes, the challenge is a bit odd...either pour cold water on your head, or donate money. But as Will pointed out in the previous paragraph, people ARE donating.
So why be cynical Will?
But Will's idiocy doesn't end with this slight critique...he goes on:
As for “raising awareness,” few of the videos I’ve seen contain any substantive information about the disease, why the money is needed, or how it will be used. More than anything else, the ice bucket videos feel like an exercise in raising awareness of one’s own zaniness, altruism, and/or attractiveness in a wet T-shirt.
Will, Will, Will, we live in a time when messages have to be conveyed in less than 6 seconds and less than 140 characters. Not a lot of information can be conveyed in that time. But we also live in a time when the most extraordinary invention ever is available, in our hands, at all times: GOOGLE.
Ever heard of it?
Now let me demonstrate how GOOGLE might actually be helping with the awareness component you seem so concerned about. Here is a Facebook post from a family member:
I saw somebody else post the question: What is ALS? Do you know? There is a huge effort to "raise awareness" and I've seen a hundred friends dump ice water on themselves in the name of ALS awareness and I just had to look it up. I knew it was Lou Gehrig's disease, but nothing more. Did you know anything more than the ball player who had it? I'm supposed to dump water on myself soon. Thought I should look it up.
See how that works Will? The poster was only slightly aware of ALS. He was challenged to dump water on himself. He wondered why? He Googled ALS. Now he is MORE AWARE!
So what, oh wise-Will, do you propose is a better way to raise awareness?
That’s why I’m proposing what is sure to be an unpopular alternative to the #icebucketchallenge. It’s called the no ice bucket challenge, and it works like this:
Do not fetch a bucket, fill it with ice, or dump it on your head.
Do not film yourself or post anything on social media.
Just donate the damn money, whether to the ALS Association or to some other charity of your choice. And if it’s an organization you really believe in, feel free to politely encourage your friends and family to do the same.
BRILLIANT! Your solution Will is to DO NOTHING other than what was being done before? Hope people become magically aware? I'm pretty sure the folks who have been trying to raise awareness about ALS for the past 75 years are pretty happy with how this campaign is working. It's the best thing that has happened for their cause since Lou Gehrig declared himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.
Donations follow awareness.
Research follows donations.
Progress follows research.
So Will, here is my suggestion for how you can help raise awareness for ALS.
No seriously, just shut up.
It makes no sense, for idiots like you to weigh in. Why criticize something that clearly has had a positive impact and at worst a campaign to which others are indifferent? If you don't want to support the cause, don't. That's your choice. Just as it is the choice of 322,860 people and counting to use #ALSICEBUCKETCHALLENGE on Instagram to post videos of themselves being naive enough to participate in such a collosal waste of time (SARC).
Even if only a tiny fraction of those posters are now more aware, well, I think the conclusion is obvious.
The Chronicle of Higher Education has just put out its 2014 Almanac of Higher Education. Lots of interesting data to be used and misused. Here's a figure I found particularly interesting: The national trend in state versus student dollars spend on higher education (per student). I particularly note the upper left where the trend lines are about to touch.
While the state government has developed a detailed master plan for wetlands restoration in the region, and money has been promised from the federal government and the BP settlement of the 2010 oil spill, this project is getting its funding from a private equity firm. The company, Ecosystem Investment Partners, intends to profit from its good works by selling environmental restoration credits to private developers and government agencies like the Army Corps of Engineers, which need them to offset environmental damage done by their projects.
Such mitigation banks have been allowed for two decades under provisions of the Clean Water Act, but private-sector work tends to be done on a small scale to offset the effect of a single project — say, by placing a frog pond next to the new Walmart — and it tends to be unconnected to any larger environmental purpose. This project is remarkable for its ambition and scope: The company has raised $181 million from investors for this and other projects, and has bought 16,500 acres of this swamp. It could spend, by some estimates, $30 million here. ...
The process of making money out of restoring wetlands is complex, but it comes down to straightforward market principles. A policy developed under the first President George Bush calls for “no net loss” of wetlands, so when developers and government agencies tackle projects that drain or fill wetlands, they need to offset the damage either by restoring an equivalent amount of wetlands or by buying the credits from the restoration work done by others. ...
The current phase of the Chef Menteur project, a 508-acre chunk, will ultimately be worth 508 credits under the federal system. Ecosystem Investment Partners can negotiate the value of each credit with the buyers, with the price depending on factors that include the availability of other projects in the same area, the ability of the potential buyer to do its own mitigation projects and how badly the buyer needs the credits.
A federal rule issued in 2008 established a preference for any entity that damages wetlands, including the government, to use mitigation banking over doing the work itself — in part because specialists are more likely to do a better job and to tie the work to broader environmental goals. The preference could encourage private-sector involvement. That is where Ecosystem Investment Partners and similar groups come in, taking on the work and allowing the builders to focus on their projects.
But the field has yet to really take off because, as a recent paper from two Yale-trained researchers put it, the work can be expensive and financially risky, while the size of projects has tended to be too small to attract institutional investors like pension funds and university endowments. ...
Who puts money into the risky proposition of restoring swamps for profit? One of the investors is the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, a nonprofit based in Cambridge, Mass. Katie Lincoln, the chief investment officer for the group’s half-billion-dollar endowment, said she put $10 million into Mr. Dilks’s company not as an environmental do-good project but as an investment that she expected would generate returns. “This is not a charity for us,” she said.
Some of the credits become available when the restorer commits to the project, but the full measure of credits will not be accessible until the project has been completed and has proved successful for five years. Mr. Dilks acknowledged that his company was taking on risk that extended over several years — but said calculating risk was part of what investment fund managers like himself were paid to do. Still, he said, “if you don’t have patient, long-term capital behind you, it’s really hard.”
Steven Conn writing about "rubrics" and other student guidelines that limits thinking:
Cleaning out some files not too long ago I looked at a syllabus I wrote in my first year teaching. It was four pages long, had a rough-and-ready description of the course, and then a week-by-week schedule of lectures and assignments. The syllabus I just used in that same course ran to 13 pages, including as it now does a two-page explanation of what a “thesis” is and a page explaining each of the assignments.
I am also now required to include pages of administrative boilerplate. My favorite bit is the section where I have to explain my “learning objectives.” Head hung low, I confess that I have no idea what a “learning objective” is, though it sounds like the intellectual analog to having your dad remind you to brush your teeth.
The department of economics must get our (uniform across professors) learning objectives approved by the university level general education social science committee. Luckily, I'm on the general education social science committee.
Economists argue that the most efficient way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to raise the price of energy by introducing a price on carbon emissions, either through a tax or a cap-and-trade regime. A tax (or a cap-and-trade system that auctions off permits) has a secondary effect beyond providing incentives for reducing emissions: it raises a lot of new government revenue. Just what is done with this revenue weighs heavily on the distributional effects of a carbon price; in fact, it has greater relevance to the distributional outcome than the actual price on carbon emissions. In a new RFF discussion paper, with RFF’s Rob Williams and Richard Morgenstern, and Jared Carbone of the University of Calgary, we analyzed three different options for allocating the revenue from a $30 per-ton tax on carbon (which translates to $192 billion in the first year), and the effects on the distribution of the cost burden across income groups in the United States. These effects change over time. We focus here on the initial effects at the outset of the policy because these near-term consequences are the most salient in the contemporary political dialogue.
Most carbon tax proposals plan to return the money collected by the government to the people. For instance, California’s cap-and-trade scheme returns much of the revenue to utility customers with a biannual “climate credit.” The three policies we examine would recycle all carbon tax revenue—that is, the level of governments spending would not change. In one policy, an equal share of the revenue is returned to each resident in the form of a lump-sum rebate. In another, the revenue is used to pay for a cut in the marginal labor tax. And in a third, it pays for a cut in marginal capital taxes. The tax cuts are implemented as an equal percentage reduction in the tax rate at all income levels, although different approaches would have different effects. It has been well established that total economic efficiency is expected to be greatest when the revenue from a carbon tax is used to reduce the capital tax and next best when it is used to reduce the labor tax because, in each case, the policy substitutes for a preexisting distortionary policy. A lump-sum rebate does not share this characteristic. However, economic efficiency comes with particular distributional outcomes that should also be evaluated. ...
Although the capital tax recycling policy is most efficient, it is also the most regressive. The labor tax policy is somewhat less efficient, but spreads the welfare effects relatively evenly across income quintiles. The lump-sum rebate policy is the least efficient and has the most diverse distributional outcomes, but results in a strongly progressive outcome. In fact, roughly speaking, the lowest three income quintiles (60 percent of households) experience welfare gains under this policy, according to our analysis. ...
"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