Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Endangered prairie dogs

In the past three years the Bush administration has rejected recomendations on how to help the Endangered Species Act. The past U.S. presidents have done alot more in terms of emiting animails into the Endangered Species Act. For example Clinton listed 512 species as endangered compared to the 56 species that Bush has listed. There are many species that are on the edge of being extinct such as the white-tailed prairie dog. In documents talking about endangered species there has been a tremendous amount of economic and social implications for people. Over the past 30 years there has been about 25 species that have been removed from the endangered/protection list. This is a definite problem in 30 years we have only fixed the endangerment problem for only about 25 animals or plants then there has to be some changes made. The big endangerment problem is continuing to grow with the expansion of economic development. Julie MacDonald had pushed for the protection of the white-tailed prairie dog that the even if the protection came about as a not-warranted listing. The deputy assistant secretary of the interior for fish and wildlife and parks, Julie MacDonald, has made several accusations towards scientists that appear to be not business relatated but instead causing a systematic problem of tampering with science that is putting our envoironment at risk.

Alternative Energies

There have been mixed signals lately on alternative energy sources. An article came out not too long ago stating that the government is increasing federal spending by 22% in order to develop alternative energies. However, at the same time dozens of staffers and contractors in the US are being laid off. President Bush even acknowledge the confusion and claimed he would set things right and re-hire a good portion of the employees that were laid off.

This comes right at a time when a new national public opinion survey clearly demonstrates that the public is in support of the United States for government policies and investments that will support development of alternative energy sources. Nearly all voters (98%) says the costs would be worth it to get the US to reach a national goal of having 25% of the domestic energy needs met by alternative energy by 2025.

I feel that since the majority of the public feels that something needs to be done, no matter if they have to spend more money, in order to find alternative resources, the US government must make a larger financial commitment to this. But as a realist, I don’t believe that oil will be left of out the energy equation really anytime soon. In addition, by finding alternative fuels, this is not only going to be costly but it may also pose conflicts of interests between governments and oil companies. This is why the move to different energy sources will probably be slow. I think
the government just needs to get the "wheels in motion" so to say.

There is also a part of me that thinks that the government really could care less that gas prices are rising, because they don’t pay for it, the taxpayers do. Most of them drive and fly around the nation because to them it’s free. Also, I think for starters there needs to be more marketing on these alternative energy sources. How many ads to you see for solar power heated homes or even the new hybrid cars? One reason why the renewable and alternative energy markets are not growing as fast it seems is because citizens still do not hear the message of savings and independence from oil. Educating and selling these products will be vital when making the transition to the next energy sources.

Thus, I see how the transition may be slow but I feel that the government is really doing little to start the transition away from oil, especially since poll after poll show the public ready and willing to spend the extra bucks in order to depend on a better future.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

On Population

WSJ COMMENTARY on population ($$):
"At bottom, the debate over population revolves around a single question: Are human beings a burden, or a resource? The former view is embodied by the Ehrlich and Nixon quotes above. More bodies mean more mouths to feed, house and provide for. At a certain point, in this perspective, you run out of stuff.

The latter view holds that people don't just consume things. They make them too. More bodies mean more minds, more innovation, more dynamism and more progress. The history of the world as America went from 100 million or 200 million to 300 million lends a lot more support to the humans-as-resource view than the humans-as-burden view. In the middle of the last century, the fathers of the population-control school of thought warned darkly that when world population reached seven billion, the 'carrying capacity' of the planet would be reached. Mass starvation and political upheaval would be the inevitable result. Well, we're getting right up there, but the bread lines are getting shorter, not longer.

Simply put, the reason is prosperity. For decades, economic growth has easily outstripped population growth, giving the U.S., and much of the rest of the world, both more people and more prosperity, something presumed to be impossible by the Malthusians. Meanwhile, the slowdown in population growth brings a whole new set of challenges. To meet them, America and the world will need more minds generating new ideas. Four hundred million, here we come"

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Over fishing

Over fishing - Cliff Brown

I saw this article on October 18, 2006 of the Environment News Service (ENS) website. Author un-disclosed.

The issue is pertaining primarily to the over fishing of Cod in the North Sea, but also mentions other fish such as North Sea Plaice, North Sea Sole, Blue Whiting, North Sea Sand Eel and Anchovy in the Bay of Biscay. Clearly all of these species would be considered Open Access Fisheries. The problem lies in the EU allowing fishing levels greater than what the Advisory Committee on Fishery Management (ACFM), which consists of 22 international scientists, had proposed.

We would certainly expect that this type of over fishing would occur due to the lack of an authoritative body to oversee many countries sharing a water body. Although the article does state that the committee recommends the fishing levels should be reduced. For example: “The capture rate for North Sea sole is “not sustainable,” the committee said, and should be cut from 17,670 tons to 10,800 tons”. However, we are not given any indication of how this is to be enforced. One could speculate that the EU has jurisdiction over all these waters and could implement the necessary regulations and perhaps would be successful in enforcing them – but I doubt it since they have not heeded the suggestions of the committee (maybe there is too much politics present)

However, there has been success in reducing the catch size of some species.
“Major cod stocks in northern areas, such as the Barents Sea and around Iceland, are large and productive and several other species appear to be rebounding.” And “The Norwegian spring spawning herring stock is at a high level due to a rational exploration strategy.”

It seems plausible that these successes have come about because of the lack of a serious competitor in these waters, and it is worth noting that these two countries are not members of the EU. With the exception of Greenland and possibly the UK, there is no other country that shares a coastline of these waters. In effect, this would negate the open access fishery argument and the local country essentially has absolute control over the fishing quantities.

The conclusion to this is again that over fishing in open access waters is occurring and nobody thus far has devised a solution. Perhaps the power of the EU will reverse this notion. We shall see.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Illegal Immigration Can Boost The Economy

Illegal Mexican immigrants would provide a quick fix to America’s future economic woes. And probably in more ways than obvious upon first glance. For instance, giving illegal aliens the right to work, play, and travel would open up opportunities for them to spend money - on airline tickets, auto-insurance, home loans, bank accounts, and taxes. In addition this cheap and effective work force would continue to provide America with the source of manpower that has otherwise left American businesses skirting illegal hiring procedures.

On the other hand would a newly legalized demographic pose a threat to American society - a society built on puritanical and European cultural understanding? Would these hard-working individuals demand more from their employers once their rights have been solidified by law? Will the English language be assailed by a Mexican majority?

An answer of “yes” to any of these questions leaves much analysis out of the equation. The US Government is obliged to balance the economic outfall of any decision against an open border policy. And to do this requires more than just a xenophobic and short-sighted view of those that have come to America seeking a better life.

Economics and Government

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Niger basin

The Niger basin in West Africa is being threatened by the exploitation of natural resources. There is a diverse amount of fish, livestock, and wildlife that thrives in the area. However, due to increases in deforestation, human population growth, and unsustainable resource use, there is fear that the basin may not continue to thrive in the future.
Proposed solutions involve a “sustainable and equitable management” plan where the countries involved would share the power to govern. The article suggests different proponents like how to restore the habitat, economic research on how to optimize productivity and sustainability, and informing those among the areas of how important and valuable the goods that can be obtained from the area could be.
From what has been learned thus far about sustainability one has to ask the question of whether the sustainable amount of a resource is the efficient or optimizing amount to harvest or not. Costs were not even mentioned in this article. Nor were time values mentioned. So, to this author has to believe that while this seems like a great plan to try and rejuvenate the Niger basin, it just seems a bit utopian without some actual numbers to show the plans in detail. It would be nice if all of the countries involved got together for the sake of the basin, but it just doesn’t seem likely. What appears to be most likely happen is that the countries will allow individuals to continue to overexploit the resources available until they bear the total cost of harvesting from the basin. At that point there may be a reduction in the amount of resources harvested.