Green Econ HWs

An excellent answer should be as detailed as possible, 2-3 paragraphs, and should 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                

Answer any 6 questions from the list below.

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

2. Chapter 1 of Plan B: Failing states – why are certain countries classified as failing states? Which countries are those? What kind of social and environmental problems do they create?

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

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

5. Explain what is meant by global climate change.   What are  its likely causes?  What might be its likely economic consequences?

6.  What type of ‘environmental pollution’ is on the rise in this century?  What are some of the factors or activities that cause this problem?

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


Homework 2,  Population, poverty              Answer any 6 questions below.

1. What are some of the most important factors that contributed to rapidly growing world population in the 20th century?  Why was world population growth much slower before?

2. How can rapidly increasing population lead to environmental problems, economic problems or international political conflicts? What might be the benefits?  How can decreasing and aging population pose problems for a country?

3. Consider a decision by a woman whether to have a child (or one more child) or not

  • a. List all costs of having a child.
  • b. List the expected benefits of a child.
  •  Using the concepts of costs and benefits, explain why people in poor countries decide to have more children than people in wealthy countries.

4.  According to Cohen’s Demography lesson, what are the main demographic predictions for the 21st century?  Explain.4.  Chapter 7 of Plan B: Give examples of government policies or initiatives that can help stabilize population growth.

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

6.  Hans Rosling’s presentations highlight several important trends across countries.  Explain any 3 trends from his videos.

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

8.  Based on Guns Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond,  why are some nations rich and others are poor today?


Homework 3,  Economic growth and ecological economics                 Answer any 6 questions below.

1.  What is meant and measured by the country’s Gross Domestic Product? Why is it an imperfect measure of economic activity and welfare of a nation?

2.  What is economic growth?  How is it calculated? How does it differ by country (use CIA factbook to give examples)?   How high is it for the US?

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

4. Discuss possible alternative(s) to GDP measures that could be used for estimating the welfare of a nation.

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

6. What is meant by “sustainability?” Explain.

7. If infinite economic growth is possible, it is unconscionable to halt or slow it, since through growth we can address poverty, disease, hardship, pain, suffering, inequality, and a host of social ills. Nonetheless, why would it be a good idea to slow down the rate of traditionally defined economic growth?  What is meant by steady state growth and why is it desirable?

8. Describe possible opportunity costs of the following decisions.

  • a. Petroleum is used to produce plastic bottles for soft drinks.
  • b. You decide to buy a new car.
  • c. The government decides to drill for oil in Alaska.

9. The central assumption of economic theory is that humans are rational.  Rational people make choices by comparing costs and benefits of various alternatives and selecting the one with the highest net benefits. Give one example of a cost and benefit decision you made recently.  Compare costs and benefits. Are you a rational person?


HW4. Economics concepts      Answer any 6 questions below.

1. Find a definition and an example for any 4 terms below:

  • Economics
  • Capitalism
  • Market
  • Resources
  • Competitive market   
  • Supply
  • Demand
  • Equilibrium
  • Surplus
  • Shortage
  • Normal goods
  • Inferior goods
  • Goods complements
  • Goods substitutes
  • Invisible hand of the market
  • Public goods
  • Externality
  • Efficient allocation of resources
  • Market failure

Apply your knowledge of supply and demand to solve problems 4-7. 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.

2. 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?)

3. 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 change in S)

4. In the market for SUV, gasoline prices increased. How will this impact the market price and quantity of SUVs sold/purchased? (mark the corresponding change in D)

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

6.  Describe The Tragedy of Commons, give examples of situations where this concept applies.

7. Explain the difference between public and private goods, give examples. Why is it difficult to collect payments for public goods?


Homework 5       Answer any 6 questions.

1. What are the main sources of energy in the world? in the US? (quote 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.  To what extent is the US economy dependent on oil?  What common products are produced with petroleum? Why would it be a problem if oil were to disappear tomorrow?

4.  Watch one of the TED talks under this module, explain the main idea and share your thoughts.

5. Explain one of the renewable sources of energy – wind, solar, nuclear, bio-fuel, or geo-thermal.  How is this type of energy produced?  What are its advantages and disadvantages?  Is it an important source of power in the US?

6. A number of countries have successfully adopted renewable energy. Discuss the experience of one of these countries.  Did the government of that country play an active role in subsidizing the shift to green energy? Is there a lesson for the US?

7. Read Five Myths about Green Energy (last link) and argue with the author on at least 3 of the issues.  Explain why you agree or disagree with the author’s arguments and present your own ideas supported by facts.

8. Based on R.Muller’s book chapter, what are the various possible solutions and non-solutions to the CO2  problem?  Describe each briefly.


Homework 6             Answer any 6 questions below.

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. Chapter 4 of Plan B: How can buildings be redesigned to improve energy efficiency?

4. Chapters 4,6 of Plan B: 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: What are the reasons to believe that current design of cities is not sustainable?  How should cities be redesigned?

7.  Why do modern architects and environmentalists believe that typical American suburbs had not been designed to be energy efficient?  What problems did the old design of suburbs create and how can these issues be addressed?

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

9. Watch any TED talk under this module, explain the main idea and share your thoughts.

10. Browse through green transportation news (treehugger or similar site).  What projects are currently taking place in various parts of the world with the goals of making transportation more sustainable? Give several examples.


Homework 7       Answer any 6 questions below.

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. Chapter 9 of Plan B: How can land and water productivity be increased?

3. Chapter 9 of Plan B:  What changes to the food production need to be made in order to feed our planet’s growing population?

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?

5. Describe the environmental costs of growing and transporting food.  How can these costs be reduced? Is “moving down the food chain” a good strategy to achieve this?

6. Based on your readings and talks, discuss several arguments in favor of vegetarianism.

7. Why is the true cost of your T-shirt is higher than the price tag you pay? Explain hidden costs.

8. Watch The Story of Bottled Water, Cosmetics or Electronics.  What is the story and the message that the authors are trying to convey?

9. Based on your readings of Ch.4 the Challenges of Sustainable Lifestyle and other resources, what do you think about efforts to reduce consumption in an economy where millions of dollars are spent on advertising to increase consumption?  Do you think efforts like “downshifting” or “Buy Nothing Day” are effective?  How would you respond to critics who argue that lower levels of consumption would throw an economy into recession, or worse?

10.  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.


Homework 8        Answer any 6 questions below.

1. How can a business become more sustainable and more profitable at the same time? Give examples.

2.  Government policies include both incentive and command tools when it comes to environmental policy.  Explain with examples how economic incentives can be used to achieve desirable outcomes.

3. Some government policies fail to achieve their goals.  Give 3 examples of such policies and explain their unexpected impact.

4.  Many people respond negatively to the concept of a carbon tax.  For example, most people would not want a tax to increase the price of gasoline to $6 per gallon.  How might an advocate of a carbon tax respond to such concerns?   What groups of people would benefit and  lose from the implementation of a carbon tax?

5. 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.

6. Which countries rank high and low in terms of environmental performance?  Explain what measures are used. How does US compare to other countries?

7.  What can we as individuals do to help save the environment?

8.  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.

********* the end *****************************************

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *