Green Econ HWs

Answer any 6 questions from each module. 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                

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 the link between climate change, conflict and migration.

5. What are some of the likely economic impacts of climate change?

6. 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.

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

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


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?

2. How can rapidly increasing population lead to environmental, economic  or political problems? Would decreasing population be of any concern for a country?

3. Discuss the link between economic growth and clean environment. Does international trade help or hurt the environment?

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 health and fertility 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. How can rich countries help the ‘bottom billion’ people?


Homework 3,  Economic growth, demand, supply           

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

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

3. What are some of the benefits and costs of economic growth?  Why would it be desirable to limit growth?

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

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.


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?

5. Explain why free markets fail to reduce pollution without government intervention  (based on slides 1-26 in Climate change book).

6. 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)

7. Discuss the role of uncertainly in decisions over large environmental projects. (Slides 42-54 of Climate change book)

8. Based on your readings from Ch 10 of Climate Change, make up your own question and answer it. The quality of the question and the answer are evaluated.


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 solar energy.  How is this type of energy produced?  What are its advantages and disadvantages?

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

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

6. A number of countries have successfully adopted renewable energy. Discuss the experience of one of these countries.  Is there a lesson for the US?

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

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


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: 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.



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. 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.

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 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.

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