Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Put back economics into Environmental Economics!

I was a little surprised today and last week to observe my students presentation on their environmental economics projects. ("Surprised" being a euphemism). Not a single group used economics to explain environmental policy recommendation. (Well there was one, and it was sadly irrelevant). Of course this is not entirely their fault. I felt guilty: I might have failed to teach them. Or, to make me feel better, I was silently blaming those who had supposedly taught them the basic microeconomics. Should really find out another way to deliver this course next time. One group dared to suggest zero pollution, while still implying the need of, well, growth! Others were not even suggesting anything: it's all about issues, newspaperic issues. I felt terribly, terribly guilty...

So in this other class, that was scheduled to be discussing sustainable development, I started with a pamphlet: "I'm an 'environmental economist', and I am going to talk today about 'environmental economics'. But first, forget about that first word in those two phrases. We here are learning economics. Later we are going to apply it to help solve the environmental problems". I went on talking about how I am more persuaded by Bjorn Lomborg instead of by the infamous doomsters, Club of Rome. How I agree more with Becker than with Posner regarding the Kyoto Protocol (by the way, the Becker-Posner Blog is getting better: in addition to their global warming debate, the recent one on disease and growth is noteworthy -- Becker being anti-Malthusian and Posner pro).

The challenge we in the field face these days is arguably not how to contribute alternative solutions to the environmental problems. But first of all, is to convince the general public that economics offers a way around them. And the difficulty lies in the fact that most of the economic approaches are simply... unpopular.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

wah turut berduka cita.... kayaknya emang karena (ternyata) dasar mikro kita di FEUI kurang kental...

BOE/ 9501076