Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Another Example of Bad Policy

In an election year what politician is going to tell farmers the truth about corn-based ethanol.

And who reads Popular Science?


Here is the first newsletter of 2008 from the MIT Energy Initiative.

Monday, January 28, 2008

My Alma Mater

This is the Year of Energy at NC State. Having received my M.S. from the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and my Ph.D. from the College of Natural Resources, I must admit to being quite proud of the Wolfpack family.

The General

Thursday, January 24, 2008

What to do with $57 billion?

Today's NYTimes reports a tentative deal on a fiscal stimulus package. Apparently, the Federal government is going to cut every family in America a check for between $300 and $1,200. There are approximately 77 million households and let's assume we split the difference on those payments for an average check of $750. Now do the math - that's over 57 billion dollars. The hope is that Americans will rush out and purchase new goods and services. In other words - pump up the aggregate demand curve with a boost to C (recall: Y = C+I+G+X-M). Now recall that any attempt to boost aggregate demand in the short run is inflationary in the long run. So, instead of attempting to boost C, why not go after I (Investment). The government could actually spend the 57 billion on (1) alternative energy, (2) fixing bridges, (3) insuring all Americans, so firms don't have to!!! (4) fixing schools, or (5) alternative energy - oops - that was number one. Or, if you don't like government spending - we could provide 57 billion in tax breaks for private firms that do all of the above. If you target Investment - you get the short run demand side stimulus followed by long run productivity gains. So let's forget going to the mall and start pushing out that Aggregate Supply Curve. Anyone, Anyone, Buehler, Buehler!!!!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

More on the Cost of Biofuels

My friend and colleague, Dr. Bill Hamilton from Washington and Lee sent me this article from last week's NYTimes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Can The President Lower Gasoline Prices?

It's an election year, as if you were not aware. So, it becomes even more important to understand the powers of the President. He has the power to declare war, but can he lower gas prices? Take a look at this article in the NYTimes.

What is the President attempting to do? And will it work?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

People You Should Get To Know

Thursday, in class, I mentioned that I thought it was important for Environmental Economists to have (at least) a decent grasp of the natural and physical science behind much of what we talk about in the social science of environmental economics. So, I thought I would provide you with a list of the people I try to read in order to keep abreast of what the best "scientists" are up to these days.

Dan Schrag at Harvard

Mark Jacobson at Stanford

Dan Kammen at UC

The Energy Group at MIT

Remember, you don't have to read everything and understand everything these folks are working on - but I think its important to try.


Monday, January 7, 2008

Welcome Back

Hello UNCW students. Welcome back. I hope you all had a relaxing, refreshing break and are ready to get back to work. This blog will serve as the official homepage for our course. I expect you to read it daily and to post comments weekly. Invite your friends to read and comment. Heck - invite your mom and dad, the more the merrier. I am looking forward to Thursday's class - please have chapter one read beforehand.

ECN 325
UNCW Spring 2008

INSTRUCTOR: Dr. James F. Casey

Phone: 962-3513

Office Hours: By Appointment
E-MAIL: caseyj@uncw.edu
TEXT: James R. Kahn, The Economic Approach to Environmental and Natural Resources, 3rd ed. Dryden Press, 2004.

COURSE WEBSITE: http://energyexternalities.blogspot.com

PREREQUISITES MAT 111, ECN 125 (Survey of Economics) or ECN 221 (Principles of Economics - Micro) or consent of instructor.

COURSE DESCRIPTION An introduction to the application of economic concepts to environmental problem solving.



Your grade in this course will be based on performance on three exams, several surprise quizzes, and blog participation. The 10 point scale applies: 90-100 = A, 80-89 = B, 70-79 = C, 60-69 = D, <60>

3 exams = 75% of final grade (20%, 20% and 35%), random quizzes = 10% of final grade, blog participation = 15% of final grade


The exams will be composed of essay-type questions, short answers and graphing. Each exam will test your knowledge of material covered since the previous exam, so these exams are not explicitly comprehensive. However, as much of what we will learn in this class builds on previously attained knowledge, all of the material is in effect cumulative.


Attendance is not a formal component of your grade in this class. You will be held responsible for everything that goes on in class including all material (some of which is not in the text) and the consequences of any important announcements. My advice, which you may choose to ignore, is to never miss class, because class is easy (show up, listen, and participate), its fun, and we’re going to learn to some really interesting stuff.


Make-ups will only be given in the event of a valid and approved University emergency. The exam dates are set. Please schedule your semester accordingly.


This class is about learning some of the fundamental issues in economics, and applying an economic way of thinking to environmental problems encountered by society. As we develop a methodology for examining these problems, I hope you will also continue to develop a more general sense of intuition about economic problems and issues. I am not terribly interested in formalism and memorization. I am interested in intuition and understanding. To accurately test your knowledge, I will ask you some questions that may be perceived as requiring memorization, but most importantly I want you to show that you have truly learned the material and understand why it is important. As you study, you should always ask yourself questions that begin with the word “Why” to gauge your comprehension (“How” questions are pretty important too).

To be successful students of economics, we need to be inquisitive. I will ask a lot of questions during class, and I hope you will respond. Reading chapters ahead of time will greatly contribute to your success in class. I cannot stress this strongly enough. Please do not hesitate to ask me questions either during or after class. While I cannot promise to have all the answers, I can assure you that issues you feel are important will be addressed.

This is your course. You will find that I am pretty flexible with regard to many aspects of this class. I value your input and will use it to make the class better for you, so if there is anything that you feel will enhance your learning experience, please let me know.

Finally, if you feel that you are having difficulty with a topic or issue, please let me know as soon as possible. Do not wait until it’s too late. Use the office hours or make an appointment to see me at another time (or send me your questions via e-mail).

POLICY ON ACADEMIC HONESTY: The UNCW Academic Honesty Policy, as documented in the Undergraduate Catalogue and in the Student Handbook, will be followed in this course.

Class Schedule Spring 2008

Thursday 1/10/08 – introduction, chapter 1

I. Introduction to Environmental Economics: Theory and Methods

1. Tuesday 1/15/08 – review of microeconomics principles, markets and efficiency,

chapter 2 and http://www.technologyreview.com/printer_friendly_article.aspx?id=19842

Thursday 1/17/08 – market failure: chapter 2 and Tragedy of the Commons

2. Tuesday 1/22/08 – market intervention, when and why: chapter 3

Thursday 1/24/08 –: Valuing the Environment: chapter 4

3. Tuesday 1/29/08 – Valuing environmental goods and services, chapter 4

Thursday 1/31/08 – Valuing environmental goods and services, chapter 4

4. Tuesday 2/05/08 – Making Choices, chapter 5

Thursday 2/07/08 – Environmental Policy, chapter 5

5. Tuesday 2/12/08: EXAM 1

II. Energy Acquisition and Dissipation

Thursday 2/14/08 – Macroeconomics and the Environment, chapter 6

6. Tuesday 2/19/08 – chapter 6

Thursday 2/21/08 – chapter 8

7. Tuesday 2/26/08 – chapter 9

Thursday 2/28/08 – chapter 7

Tuesday 3/4/08 – NO CLASS

Thursday 3/6/08 – NO CLASS

8. Tuesday 3/11/08 – Chapters 8 and 9

Thursday 3/13/08 – ch. 7

9. Tuesday 3/18/08 – TBA

Thursday 3/20/08 – NO CLASS

10. Tuesday 3/25/08 – TBA

Thursday 3/27/08 – TBA

11. Tuesday 4/1/08 – TBA

Thursday 4/3/08 – Exam 2

III. International Development Issues

12. Tuesday 4/8/08 – TBA

Thursday 4/10/08 – TBA

13. Tuesday 4/15/08 – TBA

Thursday 4/17/00 – TBA

14. Tuesday 4/22/08 – TBA

Thursday 4/24/08 – REVIEW FOR THE FINAL