Free Rider Problem Slowing Down Climate Change Progress

by Chloe Rodman

Yale University economist Robert Shiller (2015) explains how global warming can be slowed by a combination of idealism and economics in his article “How Idealism, Expressed in Concrete Steps, Can Fight Climate Change” for the New York Times. Little progress has been made regarding climate change and global warming. There have been many international conferences in the past few decades but they have been relatively unsuccessful in creating reasonable climate solutions or taking action. Economists have cited externalities as the cause for such large-scale inaction. People and governments have been unresponsive when asked to counter the negative externalities of climate change, such as pollution, by bicycling to work, turning off lights, creating regulation laws, or implementing other sustainable actions. However, in the rare occurrence that communities or people do decide to act, the positive externalities of these actions are consumed by free riders. The free-rider problem has been significant, where the benefits (cleaner air, for example) of sustainable actions are shared by every nation and every person, but the costs rest solely on the shoulders of people who decide to make a change in their daily lives. This free-rider problem reflects traditional economic theory, which states that most citizens and nations will decide not to make a change, because they believe that they can benefit from the change the few are making with no cost to themselves. Continue reading

Global Warming May be Fatal to Forests

by Chloe Rodman

Jeff Tietz (2015) reports for Rolling Stone magazine on the work postdoctoral student Park Williams has been conducting in the past decade. After surveying thousands of trees, Williams created the forest-drought stress index, which determined that, due to climate change, the average forest stress caused by drought will, by 2050, surpass what it has been in the past 1000 years. Conifer forests in the Southwest United States will die, along with many other species across the globe. Continue reading

National Security Threatened Due to a Warming World

by Chloe Rodman

Jeff Goodell (2015) writes in Rolling Stone Magazine that 30 of the United States’ domestic military bases are in jeopardy due to climate change and rising sea levels. These stations either must be relocated in the near future or put out of commission because not only are they sinking into the ocean, but the compounds become flooded with each storm, making work almost impossible. Because of these recent trends, the Pentagon, as well as President Obama, believe that “…climate change poses immediate risks to our national security.” While many powerful and important members of the military and government believe action must be taken regarding climate change, some members of congress do not agree. These congress members, some of whom happen to be on various military committees, castigate those who believe in climate change or those who liken it to other global disasters such as terrorism or infectious disease. Continue reading