Green Econ HWs

Answer any 5 questions from each module. An excellent answer should be as detailed as possible, 2-3 paragraphs, and should show engagement with the study resources, include a REFERENCE to or a QUOTE from your readings, and a NUMBER or an EXAMPLE to support your point of view. Less substantive answers will get partial credit.

Homework 1, Challenges of Civilization                

1. Explain what is meant by global climate change. What type of  human activities may have contributed to climate change?

2. Chapter 1,2 of Plan B: What are the reasons to worry that the civilization may be on the verge of collapse? Explain.

3. Chapter 1 of Plan B:  Explain why the author calls some countries  ‘failing states ‘.  What kind of social and environmental problems do they create for the rest of the world?

4. Discuss some of the economic impacts of climate change, including the link between climate change, conflict and migration.

5. Chapter 3 of Plan B: In this chapter L. Brown mention 4 components of his plan to save civilization. What parts does the plan include? Explain each briefly.

6. According to Jared Diamond, how did environmental destruction contribute to the collapse of several ancient civilizations?

7. According to Professor Gilbert, why are humans reluctant to take global warming seriously?

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Homework 2,  Population, poverty              

1. What are the most important factors that contributed to rapid world population growth in the 20th century?  How is world population projected to change in the future?

2. How can rapidly increasing or decreasing population lead to environmental, economic or political problems for a country and its neighbors?

3.  Chapter 7 of Plan B: Give examples of government policies or initiatives that can help stabilize population growth.

4.  Chapter 7 of Plan B:  How can we eradicate poverty in the world? Give examples of government policies that can help reduce poverty.

5.  Hans Rosling’s presentations highlight several health and fertility trends across countries.  Explain the main trends based on his videos.

6.  According to Cohen’s Demography lesson, what are the main demographic predictions for the 21st century?  Explain.

7. How can rich countries help the ‘bottom billion’ people?

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Homework 3        

1.  Explain what is measured by the country’s Gross Domestic Product .  Why is GDP not a perfect measure of well-being of a nation?

2. Explain what is measured by GDP growth.  What are the pros and cons of putting limits on economic growth?

3.  What does ecological economics study?  What are its main ideas?

4.  What are some of the major services that nature produces? How do economists measure their value?

5.  Does international trade help or hurt the environment?

6. Explain how environmental quality in one country may affect other countries.

7. What are some of the alternative measure of wellbeing (other than GDP) proposed by economists?

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HW4. Public goods,  externalities    

1. Explain the difference between public and private goods, give examples.

2.  Why are common resources overused? Describe The Tragedy of Commons, give examples of situations where this concept applies.

3.  Give one example of a positive externality and one example of a negative externality. Suggest ways to encourage / discourage these activities.

4.  Why would most industries  (including clothing manufacturers) be less profitable if they had to pay full costs of production? What kind of costs are often not included in prices we pay?

5.   Explain the concept of market failure. Why is it that free markets would fail to reduce pollution without government intervention?

6. Watch The Story of Bottled Water, Cosmetics or Electronics.  How do you understand the message of the story?

7.  Explain how cost-benefit analysis can be used in deciding on whether large scale project should be undertaken. What are some of the methods and pitfalls of this analysis? (Slides 26-42 of Climate change book)

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Homework 5. Energy supply

1. What are the main sources of energy in the world and in the US? (mention numbers). Why do fossil fuels still dominate our energy use?

2.  According to Plan B, “ The indirect costs of burning coal exceed the direct costs, those of mining and coal and transporting it to the power plant. Neglecting to account for these indirect costs, the market is undervaluing many goods and services, creating economic distortions.”  What kind of indirect costs does burning coal impose on the society?  What kind of “wrong” prices and “wrong” production/consumption choices might this lead to?

3. Explain one of the other renewable sources of energy – solar, wind, nuclear, bio-fuel, or geo-thermal.  How is this type of energy produced?  What are its advantages and disadvantages?

4. Why has the adoption of renewable energy been slow so far?

5. A number of countries have successfully adopted renewable energy. Discuss the experience of one of these countries.

6. Explain the ‘resource curse’ and why some countries can suffer from it while others don’t.

7. Explain with examples why some energy subsidies create distortions.

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Homework 6. Energy demand.          

1. Chapters 4,6 of Plan B:  Give an example of a project undertaken in any part of the world with the goal of increasing fuel efficiency of a particular product or service

  • by a government
  • by a community
  • by a business
  • by individuals

2. Chapter 4 of Plan B: This chapter identifies energy-saving measures that will offset the nearly 30% growth in global energy demand. What are the proposed measures? Will they lower our standard of living?

3. How can buildings be redesigned to improve energy efficiency?

4.  How can transport system be redesigned to improve energy efficiency?

5. Chapters 4 of Plan B: How can the use of materials be reduced and what industries may benefits the most from the increased efficiency?

6.  Chapters 6 of Plan B:  How should cities and suburbs be redesigned to improve energy efficiency?

7. Chapters 4 of Plan B: What are smart electric grids? Explain these grids can contribute to energy efficiency.

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Homework 7    

1. Chapters 8-9 of Plan B: an example of each:  project undertaken in any part of the world with the goal of restoring the environment

  • by a government
  • by a community
  • by a private business
  • by individuals

2.  How can food production be improved in order to feed our planet’s growing population?

3. Describe some of the environmental costs of food.  How can we change our food choices in order to reduce these costs?

4.  Offer several reasons why food prices increased all over the world in the last 10 years. Why have African countries experienced particularly high food prices?

Apply your knowledge of supply and demand to solve the next 3 problems. Predict what will happen to prices and quantities sold/bought in each case. Start by drawing a graph that shows an X-shaped intersection of supply and demand P0 Q0 in the corresponding market before the event. After the change occurs, one of the curves moves, resulting in the new P1 and Q1. Draw the new curve, label your graph.

5. In the market for Tofu, the number of vegetarians increased leading to an increase in demand. How will this affect the amount of Tofu sold and its price? (draw S and D, add D1 , label old and new P, Q, did they increase, decrease, or no change?)

6. In the market for bottled water, new technology emerged that allows production of cheap biodegradable plastic bottles. How will this impact the market price and quantity of bottled water sold/purchased? (mark the corresponding shift of a curve)

7. In the market for SUV, gasoline prices increased. How will this impact the market price and quantity of SUVs sold/purchased?

8.  Wildfires destroyed half of vineyards in California. Show the impact of this event on P and Q in the market for wine.

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Homework 8        

1.  How can we as consumers choose more environmentally friendly products and services?

2.  What are some of the steps a business can take in order to become more sustainable and more profitable at the same time?

3.  Explain cap and trade policy. What does it achieve, and why is it being criticized?

4. Give examples of environmental policies used by EPA in regulating businesses.

5. What are some of the policies proposed by Herman Daly for the steady state economy?

6. What do we mean by “optimal” pollution? Why should optimal pollution levels be above zero? Explain why reducing pollution levels to zero is unlikely to be economically efficient.

7.  Based on your readings for this lesson, make up your own question and answer it. Be sure to demonstrate your familiarity with the readings by referring to the articles or videos.

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