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October 23 2013


From Hopeless to Curious? Thoughts on Hausman's “Dubious to Hopeless” Critique of Contingent Valuation

For those who have followed our anticipatory posts, good news in the inbox this morning:

I am pleased to inform you that Oxford Journals has published your article [From Hopeless to Curious? Thoughts on Hausman's "Dubious to Hopeless" Critique of Contingent Valuation by Timothy C. Haab; Matthew G. Interis; Daniel R. Petrolia; John C. Whitehead] in Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy.

Here's the abstract:

Hausman “selectively” reviewed the contingent valuation method (CVM) literature in 2012 and failed to find progress in the method during the 18 years since Diamond and Hausman argued that unquantified benefits and costs are preferred to those quantified by CVM. In this manuscript, we provide counter-arguments to Hausman's claims, not with the intent to convince the reader that the debate over CVM is settled in favor of the method, but rather to argue that the intellectual debate over CVM is ongoing, that dismissing CVM is unwarranted, and that plenty of work remains to be done for the truly curious researcher.

For those who want to read the full paper, click here.  Once you click, be sure to download a full text version of the paper (either pdf or html)...OFTEN...one for each computer, iPad or iPhone you own.  And I'm sure you need a copy for your office, your living room, your kitchen, your bathroom (probably the most appropriate place)...

We want to give Harry de Gorter and David Just a run for most downloaded AEPP article: 20,500 full text downloads to date. 

And don't forget to cite our paper in every contingent valuation paper--oh what the hell--every paper you write.  Just cut and paste this:

Haab, Timothy C., Matthew G. Interis, Daniel R. Petrolia, John C. Whitehead. "From Hopeless to Curious? Thoughts on Hausman's "Dubious to Hopeless" Critique of Contingent Valuation."
Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy. 2013. doi: 10.1093/aepp/ppt029.

And don't forget to put it on your class reading list. Just cut and paste this:

Haab, Timothy C., Matthew G. Interis, Daniel R. Petrolia, John C. Whitehead. "From Hopeless to Curious? Thoughts on Hausman's "Dubious to Hopeless" Critique of Contingent Valuation."
Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy. 2013. doi: 10.1093/aepp/ppt029.

And since the Nobel Committee set a precedent this year for giving the prize to economists with opposing views, if Hausman is to ever win the prize, I think it's only logical that we join him on stage.

Did I mention you can (and should) download a copy of the full paper by clicking here?

October 21 2013


No problem, I get all my science news from the Sunday Mark Trail

Rob Elliot:

Only bank share prices have collapsed as quickly.  The death of environmental journalism has been as rapid.  According to Zofeen Ebrahim at IPS US science reporters are themselves becoming an endangered species.

The New York Times has canned its "green blog" and earth and environmental science journalism courses have closed at Columbia University and John Hopkins University.

The article quotes the number of "science" sections of newspapers falling from 85 in 1989 to just 19 in 2012.

This timing of this blog's resurrection appears to be either well timed (less supply and hence less competition) or even more pointless than before (as I assume newspapers cut the columns due to lack of demand/interest).

Hopefully as a global blog that does not rely on US readers there is some hope.  In fact blogs by their nature do not rely on having any readers at all (which is good news for this blog).  We have no adverts, no begging buttons and make no money whatsoever.

Of course these columns may have disappeared bbecause the twitter generation get their green news from high quality blogs (and less high quality blogs like this one).

The UK at least still appear interested.

via globalisation-and-the-environment.blogspot.com

Good to see GatE back, and with a new look! 

Tags: Science
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October 09 2013


Env-Econ: The Nobel Nomination

In response to the overwhelming grassroots interest we've received we have in being nominated for a Nobel Prize in honor of our contribution to the promulgation of environmental economics in the blogosphere, I've done some research (i.e. I Googled 'Nobel Prize in Economic Scence nomination'--I would've Google 'Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel' but I can never remember the real name...that will change when we win). 

Here are the criteria for being a nominator:

The right to submit proposals for the award of a Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel shall, by statute, be enjoyed by:

  1. Swedish and foreign members of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences;
  2. Members of the Prize Committee for the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel;
  3. Persons who have been awarded the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel;
  4. Permanent professors in relevant subjects at the universities and colleges in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway;
  5. Holders of corresponding chairs in at least six universities or colleges, selected for the relevant year by the Academy of Sciences with a view to ensuring the appropriate distribution between different countries and their seats of learning; and
  6. Other scientists from whom the Academy may see fit to invite proposals.

Somewhere in my family tree is a two-time President of the Swiss Confederation: Robert Haab.  That should count for something, right? 

Oh, wait, Swiss=Switzerland. 

Not Sweden. 

My bad.

Anyhow...still looking for that nominator.

Rise up env-econers! Grass doesn't grow without roots.

March 01 2013


An Addendum

Some longtime contributors to the Green blog will now be posting to the Caucus and Bits blogs instead, and they can be followed on Twitter.

A Blog’s Adieu

The New York Times is discontinuing the Green blog but plans to press on with aggressive energy and environment coverage.

On Our Radar: Asian Dust and California Snow

Even when two storm systems in the Sierra Nevada carry the same amount of water vapor, scientists found, the presence of dust from Asia in one will cause far more precipitation.

February 28 2013


Taking a Fresh Look at Nuclear Waste

A new book argues that the nation's failure to establish a nuclear waste repository is less about technological shortcomings than human foibles.

September 04 2012


Q. and A.: Climate Change and the Monsoon

In decades to come, global warming is likely to result in heavier bursts of rain and longer dry spells.

Live and Let Live: Humans and Tigers

Coexistence is possible with the right safeguards, researchers report.

August 28 2012


Hunting for Debris and Answers in Alaska

A scientist and her team kayak their way to daily measurements of the forests of the ABC islands of Alaska, pondering wilderness of the past and present.

August 22 2012


Managing the Ocean for Humans and Whales

Researchers seek the most protection for the North Atlantic's humpback whales at the least cost to the fishing and tourism industry.

August 20 2012


A Whale, a Tag, a Mission

Chugging behind a whale in an inflatable vessel, researchers may have only a precious second or two to affix an electronic tag to its glistening back. The tag precisely tracks the animal's movements.

August 18 2012


Electronics Recycling Fire Unnerves a N.Y. Town

A lack of readily accessible information about whether contaminants like PCBs spread worries residents of a Columbia County town.

August 17 2012


A 20-Year Low in U.S. Carbon Emissions

Energy-related emissions were lower in January to March than for any first quarter since 1992, partly because of the shift from coal to natural gas in power generation.

Just 2% of Canadians Deny Climate Change Occurring, Poll Finds

Originally published on EnergyBoom.com

A recent survey conducted by Insightrix Research, Inc. has found that only 2% of Canadians believe climate change is not taking place.

The online poll, commissioned by IPAC CO2 Research Inc., a Saskatchewan-based center studying carbon capture and storage, asked respondents where they stood on the issue of climate change.

32% of participants said they believe climate change is occurring as a result of human activity, and 54% said they believe climate change is happening because of a combination of human activity and natural variation.  Meanwhile, 9% believe climate change is the result of the natural climate cycle.  Far in the minority were respondents (2%) that believed climate change is a hoax.

Conversely, in the United States climate denial represents a much larger chunk of the population, as a recent survey shows. 15% of Americans believe climate change is not occurring.

Much like the United States, Canadians' opinions on climate change vary depending on the region.  The Insightrix survey found that residents in the Prairies (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba) are least likely to believe humans are changing the climate, while those living in the Maritimes, Quebec, and British Columbia are most likely to hold the belief. 

Almost half (44%) of respondents in Quebec believe anthropogenic climate change is happening, while only 21% of participants in Alberta and Saskatchewan hold the same belief.

This regional divide also exists in regard to fossil fuel consumption.  66% of Albertan respondents believe fossil fuels will be used for electricity production in 2050, while only 37% of Quebecers held the same belief.  Across the country, 51% of Canadians believe fossil fuels will still be used for electricity in 2050.

Carmen Dybwad, CEO of IPAC CO2 Research, said:  "Our survey indicates Canadians from coast to coast overwhelmingly believe climate change is real and is occurring, at least in part due to human activity."

Image credit: ItzaFineDay via Flickr


On Our Radar: Rating the Oil and Gas Sector

The oil and gas industry and the federal government have the least positive images, as they did in polling last year.

August 16 2012


Fracking Industry Paying Off Scientists For "Unbiased" Safety Studies

As a whole, Americans have an unfortunate tendency to distrust scientists. The number of those who distrust science and scientists is skewed heavily by ideology, with self-identified “conservatives” overwhelmingly saying that they don’t trust science. DeSmogBlog’s own Chris Mooney has spent an enormous amount of time and energy devoted to finding out why science has become so controversial, and has compiled a great new book explaining why certain sectors of the U.S. population are more prone to denying many scientific findings.

And while most of the distrust that Americans have for scientists and science in general is completely without warrant, there are times when it is reasonable and often necessary to question the findings of scientists. Especially when the money trail funding certain science leads us right back to the oil and gas industry.

Five years ago, Exxon Mobil began offering large cash incentives to scientists willing to put their conscience aside to undermine studies that were coming out regarding climate change. The dirty energy industry knew that these studies would put their well-being at risk because they were responsible for so much of the global warming emissions, so they had to open their wallets to scientists who were more concerned with their finances than the well being of the planet.

A similar scenario played out in the months following BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil disaster. BP arranged meetings with scientists and academics all along the Gulf Coast, offering them $250 an hour to report on the oil spill, as long as the reports weren’t negative. This also would have allowed the oil giant an advantage in future litigation, by creating a conflict of interest for scientists that might otherwise testify against the company.

And then we have the media’s role in all of this, with 'experts for hire' like Pat Michaels allowed to pollute the public conversation with disinformation.

For years, Michaels has taken to the pages of “reputable” papers like Forbes and The Wall Street Journal in an attempt to paint climate change as fraudulent and uncertain, without the public realizing that his primary source of funding was the dirty energy industry and their front groups. One of his most recent crusades has been to convince the American public that fracking is perfectly safe, and we should all be singing the industry’s praises for providing us with cheap natural gas.

But Michaels isn’t the only one trying to convince us that fracking is safe and harmless – The industry itself has decided to jump on the science-buying bandwagon. NewsInferno has the story, based on an initial report by WIRED.com:

As the debate continues and local municipalities look to block fracking expansion in many areas, the energy industries have constantly countered, either mounting their own legal battles or now through influencing researchers to produce studies focusing on fracking’s benefits and safety.

WIRED reports that last week, the provost at University of Texas said it would have to “re-examine” a recent university report from one of its professors that declared fracking was safe on groundwater supplies when it was revealed that professor had taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from a single gas developer in the state.

Nationwide, Americans are being influenced by seemingly unbiased research but not being told who is influencing the authors of these studies. Case in point, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce also recently published a report, according to WIRED, entitled “Shale Works for US” that was directed at Ohioans caught in the crosshairs of the fracking safety debate.

One of the authors of the study, Robert Chase, has been identified as one person who’s been greatly influenced by the energy industries and was even employed as a consultant for companies like Halliburton and Cabot, leaders in the fracking industry. His influence was likely part of a Penn State University study that also found fracking to be safe and ultimately led state lawmakers there to allow some of the most unchecked fracking drilling in the U.S.

Just as the Exxon story made international headlines, so too should this story. Credible, honest studies have already been made public that show that there is nothing safe about the process of unconventional gas development. DeSmogBlog’s “Fracking The Future” report is a great source of information on the dangers that fracking and other risky industry practices pose to the health of human beings as well as the environment.

But this is hardly the first time that the industry has been on the wrong side of science. In May of this year, I reported on how the fracking industry was trying to keep doctors in the dark about the chemicals being injected into the ground, and also attempting to get gag orders on doctors to prevent them from speaking with patients and the public about drilling-related illnesses.

The only thing currently holding back a wave of new fracking wells in America is public opinion and opposition from elected officials. But even with those hurdles in place, the industry continues to operate with almost no oversight, and drilling activities are still expanding. If scientists are willing to tell the American public and our elected leaders that fracking is safe, that could easily be enough to expand this dirty practice to areas that, at least for now, have been off limits to the industry.


In Fuel Cells, Some Hope for Urban Sanitation

A team of engineers has developed fuel cells that harness a mix of microbes to clean wastewater while producing their own power
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