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Old 09-30-2004, 04:53 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Global enviornmental problems

I know at least some of you know about some global enviornmental problems. Well, I'm doing a presentation on the economic effect of global enviornmental problems in my Econ class (I'm focusing more on the ecosystem). I'm not exactly sure how I should go about starting all of this partally because I didn't know much about economics till just recently (first Econ class I've had so far). Could anyone throw some pointers at me or give me some ideas on what to focus on? This would be really appreiciated!!
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Old 09-30-2004, 07:41 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Well, here's one example: Say independent fishing boats all try to maximize their own profits by fishing as much as they can in a particular body of water. Since each boat is doing what's economically best for itself, fish stocks get depleted. Now, none of the boats can turn a profit because there aren't enough fish! I think this is called tragedy of the commons.
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Old 10-01-2004, 09:10 PM   #3 (permalink)
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some economist or another had a recent publication showing that it is always beneficial for an individual to maximize external costs, no matter what that cost happens to be. this is in contrast to the normal thinking that external costs can be ignored by an individual (rather than maximized) if the individual is looking to maximumize personal gain. the name escapes me, but it might be worth checking.

if you're interested in ecosystem issues, consider looking up the following keywords:

external costs
life cycle analysis
finite resources
economic valuation of ecology (diversity of species)

hopefully that will give you a good start.
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Old 10-03-2004, 02:17 AM   #4 (permalink)
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If you wanna talk about the global environment and economics, then China and Global warming is where it's at.

First, Global warming; Global levels of greenhouse gases produced from artificial (human) sources has contributed massive amounts to the natural greenhouse processes of this planet. Theories surrounding the greenhouse climate shift point toward a greenhouse "cliff" that could occur within the next couple of decades. Too many greenhouse gasses faster than the planet can handle means massive die-offs in vegitation, trees, seaweed, etc. All begin rapid die-backs in response to the ever increasing corbon dioxide levels. Moderate vegitation death brings about a small but important rise in global temerature, between 4-5 degrees celsius. An increase of 2-3 degrees celsius is all the planet would need to undergo in order to release the massive amount of greenhouse gases stored off the coast of California and Indonesia. Once these millions of tons of greenhouse gases go up into the atmosphere, the earth will most likely undergo a rapid additional 5-6 degree hike in global temp. At this point, most oxygen producing plant life wil be unable to deal with rapidly rising temperatures, and only the heartiest plants will survive. With our main source of oxygen gone, the demise of the human race is all but assured, since the Earth will likely head into a massive warming period that could either culminate in a Venusian atmosphere (Hell on Earth) or a slow return to equilibrium (50-500 million years).

Given, it's all speculation, but it's founded on solid scientific evidence.

NOW, If you're still with me, lets talk about CHINA.

China is sitting on some of the most extensive coal reserves on the planet. Coal is a cheap and easy source of power, as it creates very large temperatures when you burn it. The downside, is that it is the single most polluting source of power that the human race has ever devised, releasing obscene amounts of toxic chemicals and even more obscene amounts greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. In the USA, some of those pollutants are filtered out, some are rendered non-reactive, and the rest are let out into the air. In China, no such restrictions on pollution are in place, so coal power plants are going up all over the country to power their ever-growing industrial infrastructure.

I think you can see where this is going.

Greenhouse "Cliff" = End of human life on Earth (theoretically)
China's Power Industry = Could single-handedly bring about said cliff.

I will assume that this is way more information than you would need, but it's still interesting to think about. The possibility that within our lifetimes, we could see the beginning of the end of the human race. It may have already become irreversible.

But then again, perhaps the Earth is more hearty than we think, and it will adapt to the larger amounts of greenhouse gas in a positive way. Think positive!
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Old 10-03-2004, 02:17 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Goddamnit that was waaaaay too long.

Note to self: KEEP IT SIMPLE.
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Old 10-03-2004, 06:47 AM   #6 (permalink)
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greyeyes: i just reread your post--i think we're offering you the wrong advice. there have been models evaluating the economic cost of global warming. check out the ipcc reports on climate change: http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/index.htm (there may be more recent reports).

also, there was a study a few years ago showing that the economic value of hunting down all sperm whales now is worth more than allowing managing the species. i can't remember the study author, but i'll try to hunt it down for you. the point was that, if you want to save whales, you need more than economic motivitation to do so.
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Old 10-03-2004, 12:05 PM   #7 (permalink)
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this project that I'm doing is for my Econ class and I just recently realized that I probably chose one of the harder topics that was offered. This is a group project focusing on global enviornmental problems and we split it off into subgroups that the individuals would focus on. I of course chose the hardest topic (something on the terms of how saving the ecosystem would help the economy and/or how destroying the ecosystem would hurt the economy, and I would need some specific examples). from what rsl12 said about the whales this might be harder than I had previously assumed. Though, just thinking about the whale example a little more, hunting down all of the sperm whales would definately help the economy right now but over time the economy would go down farther than if we had not killed all of the whales, completely using up this natural resource. Saving the whales not only will allow more whales in the longrun to be killed and used as a natural resource but it also provides jobs for the people that are trying to save them. One more thing that saving the whales does is it circulates more money through the economy (as you know the economy will only go up with the amount of money that is spent in the economy not the amount that is saved). Thanks for the examples and resources also you are making me really think deep into this topic this is great! If you have any other information that you might think will help please post it.
Thanks again!
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Old 10-03-2004, 12:06 PM   #8 (permalink)
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also, please tell me if this reasoning makes any sence or do you think I'm completely off?
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Old 10-03-2004, 12:09 PM   #9 (permalink)
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The fisherman example is a good one.

Same applies to stuff like Ivory. Of course if all the ivory dealers want to do well in the long term, they will need to maintain a supply of ivory (hence of elephants). However, since they can't get together, it is in the interest of each dealer to get what they can as fast as possible. Thus, no elephants.

It is a very common problem and explains why you can't simply drop environmental regulations and expect the free market to preserve the environment.
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