Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More Open Space...

Real estate prices have affected many different aspects of the economy, and they are now impacting the environment in a positive way. In an article from The Wall Street Journal, Jim Carlton points out the impact that the real-estate crunch has had on the environment. It is because of the recent real-estate crisis many people are unable to afford the land that they had previously purchased to build on. This is good news for those conversationalists who would prefer not to see the land ever built on. The land is being snatched up from places in Hawaii all the way to places in Georgia. Although some people may be happy with this change others are concerned about what selling this land will do to the availability of private land in the future. “Not everyone is a fan of these conservation deals. Private property advocates, for example, complain that taking prime land out of circulation near cities pushed development even farther away, as well as driving up land prices.”

The consideration that needs to be taken into account as well is the impact on the economy in the long run. Although the long run has much uncertainty, it is possible that by removing the land from possible development now, people will be loosing out on a substantial amount of potential income that they could have had if they had been able to build commercial buildings on their property. Nothing can really be done to change the situation now, but this issue may come back up at a later time, when some people are looking for places to build and it has all been deemed open space.

Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121028811193679127.html

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Doesn't the Governemnt Own the Seals?

What luck for me! We were learning about the government's protected animals and what was on the news yesterday and today? A baby seal was on the California coast caught in a fishing net. Looked pretty easy to solve- go up to the seal, cut the net from it and the the seal and evryone watching would be happy. But wait!!! It seems that the seal is federaly protected and the law states that if the seal is within so many feet (I think it was 50) no one can go neat the seal to help it. So, according to the law, all we can do (and the world watching) is watch that poor seal flip and flop in a fish net.

Are you kidding me?!?! This shows how completly ignorant the ESA really is. To protect the seal, we have to let it suffer? I am completly at a loss for words as to the stupidity that is unreported.

Here is the end to the story. It seems that while the cameras were not rolling, someone BROKE THE LAW and went to the seal and cut off the net. No word yet as to whether or not there will be an arrest. I think it is interesting that NO ONE so far captured the person saving the seal on camera. Shouldn't there be a federal investigation now to catch this heathen for breaking the law? Maybe there is some Olson here with group colusion? I will take a stretch and offer this thought: maybe the governmnet will rethink the ESA?

Monday, May 05, 2008

The myth of global warming?

I have been harping on sustainability this whole semester, but never attacking weather or not the science that supports that view is found-less and unreasonable. An article appeared on the BBC website a few days ago: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/science/nature/7376301.stm. This site shows evidence that the earth will at least maintain present and past temperatures over the next decade. What? Until recently we have these models that predict the earth warming and continuing to warm; however, the warmest year on record (since records started being kept only a few hundred years ago) was in 1998. Hang on we are to experience cooler temperatures over the next decade and this last decade has been lower than the high? This makes me skeptical over the idea of global warming. It could be perfectly alright for instead saw that the increased carbon in the atmosphere could lead to higher rates of skin cancer; then one could go out take the test and decide whether the statement was false or not. But with global warming we have no evidence and in fact we have evidence to the contrary to its existence. This reminds me of the boy who cried wolf; the sustainability crowd may have cried wolf to push their agenda, and this action may lead to a back lash against the movement, and possibly allow a more liberal (classic definition) government to emerge.
This doesn’t leave sustainability totally dead, just mostly. Endangered species maybe an area where the sustainability folks may have ground to regroup. There is evidence that some species are dying out (not all, cats, dogs, cows are all doing fine). The evidence suggests that human action is causing the, at least the acceleration, of various species around the world. Sustainability would then need to make the argument that endangered species, no all species, are public goods and therefore the role of the government to provide and limit human population and human consumption levels. Unless I have missed something if global warming doesn’t happen, or happen in near the way as predicted, then I believe a backlash against the enivornmental/global climate/sustainability crowd is likely and this may, indeed, hurt our level of life because certain causes, like clean water, air, and endangered species may be sacrificed to the backlash.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Nuclear Reactors and the Carbon Crisis

According to sustainability the world cannot sustain the current levels of economic activity and development. The ship of mother earth is sinking or will be sinking so enough. This then leads to how to slow the activity and reduce the consumption factor. This then leads people to worry about climate change because, as far as I can tell, it is an indication of our ship sinking. Currently the hype is on about Carbon emissions from vehicles, livestock, and factories. Carbon emission, for now, are being ignored from humans (breathing). Nuclear power seemed to be a way out for countries worried about carbon emissions. The thought was the actual power station to produce nuclear energy doesn’t cause any carbon emissions and is therefore only emission producing to get the fuel. Now a report is out which states that there is a rise in carbon emission from producing nuclear fuel. The cheap and easy fuel is gone (or going) which leaves the fuel in places were a lot of mining and transportation will have to be used. This leads the scientist publishing this work to conclude that the nuclear option isn’t going to lead to as low a carbon foot print as previously thought.
Why worry? Energy production is a large contributor to carbon emissions so its reduction would be paramount to the sustainability supports. Transportation is also critical, especially in developed/wealthy countries were personal vehicles are used more. This then leads me to conclude that vehicles will come under this carbon emission problem as well. Vehicles will have to be more carbon friendly in the future (if the world is going to a sustainability). This then means that the carbon foot print of transportation of nuclear fuel will fall and nuclear fuel mining is the only area where carbon production is not guarantee to fall. However, if another method was used, as opposed to government mandate and regulation, then the nuclear option may in fact be viable, according to sustainability. If we tax carbon emissions this will bring the economic efficient outcome of nuclear power stations and lower carbon foot prints to the desired level with the efficient level of carbon and nuclear power. This leads this economist to suggest that instead of looking at all the faults of a particular alternative tax consumption of energy and tax carbon emission from all carbon producing sources (with the possible exception of breath, unless one believes that the population isn’t sustainable either.)