Predicting Long-run Economics of Climate Change

by Simon Bjerkholt

Predicting the future is always hard. According to a journal article written by Richard Rosen and Edeltraud Guenther predicting the net economic effects of climate change mitigation over long periods of time just might be impossible. Presently, the mode for predicting the effects of climate change mitigation on the world economy is to make predictions for the long term such as 2050 or 2100. The authors of this article argue that it would be much more effective to make plans for the short term and then adjust the plans as we learn more about the nature of the problem we are facing and the effectiveness of our attempts to stop it. Continue reading

Potential for Tariffs as Climate Change Mitigation: Legal and Economic Analysis

by Sam Peterson

There exist many approaches to solving the problem of climate change, which generally can be delineated in one of two categories: adaptation and mitigation. Adaptive policies include efforts to change human behavior to be compatible with the evolving global climate. Mitigation techniques result from more stringent policies. Both carbon dioxide emission caps and legislation against use of fossil fuels are environmental approaches to mitigation policy. There also exist economic mitigation policies which, by their nature, utilize market forces to dissuade continued use of products harmful to the environment. Cottier (2014) examined the effects imposition of tariffs might have on decreased use of environmentally unfriendly goods and services. They conclude, through use of elasticity measurements, that multilateral action would be effective for pursuing tariff policy, which would lead to an “average 1.4% net reduction in carbon-intensive imports from a 5% increase in tariffs.” The paper examines the World Trade Organization (WTO) legislation surrounding tariffs and concludes that countries can act unilaterally to increase tariffs or act as a group. Continue reading

Social norms and preferences towards climate change policies: A meta-analysis

by Sam Peterson

While climate change consensus has been growing in the last two decades, response to the alarming effects of it has not kept pace. There are various explanations for this societal inertia, including misinformation, lack of trust in government, and knowledge gaps (Norgaard 2009). Alló et. al. (2014) examined, by way of meta-analysis, preferences regarding climate change action based on factors incorporating social norms and temporal restrictions in different countries. The study assessed data from completed analyses regarding climate change action preferences and measured several dependent variables, including whether the study proposed mitigation or adaptation strategies, households’ willingness to pay (WTP), and forms of monetary support proposed by the included studies. Alló concludes that mitigation actions are preferred over adaptation actions, countries with long-term outlooks have higher WTP, and preferable policies encourage the prevention of disasters, like heat waves, as opposed to creation of and investment in greener technologies. Continue reading

A Public Health Policy Approach To Rising Sea Levels

by Sarah Whitney

Robin Kundis Craig (2010) concludes that it is absurd to expect governments to put policies in place now that predict and manage the long-term effects of rising sea levels. Craig argues that governments can prevent the extent of damages caused by rising sea levels by implementing a policy focusing directly on public health. She notes that scientists are still unsure exactly how high the seas will rise. Their predictions, she states, are uncertain as they are based upon scientific assumptions and factors like the effect of current and future mitigation methods, (the methods combating greenhouse gas emission). Craig also states that it is unreasonable to define adaptive measures to govern climate change almost three centuries from now as new information will inevitably arise. One can reasonably assume however, that humans will still retain the same basic desires such as health and comfortable living conditions in the distant future. This assumption can be used to form a preventative policy that benefits society without the need to fully comprehend all the uncertainties of rising sea levels. A public health approach aimed at the needs and concerns of humans is an adaptable policy that can remain stable as the discoveries and effects of climate change arise. Continue reading

Iowa: Farmer Thoughts on Climate Change

by Caroline Vurlumis

Agriculture is being threatened by climate change and yet feeds this threat by emitting greenhouse gases itself. In Iowa, the site of some of the most productive land in the world, a survey investigated farmer perceptions of climate change and their response to altering farming practices. The two major research questions Arbuckle et al. (2013) investigated were: 1. Do farmers support adaptation and mitigation actions and 2. Do beliefs and concerns about climate change influence those attitudes? The surveys supported the authors’ hypothesis that farmer’s level of concern about how climate change would impact their livelihoods was correlated with mitigation strategies. Farmers who did not believe climate change was human-caused or was not a problem were more likely not to support mitigation. Continue reading