Week 7 - Economics and the Environment
Day 1 - Getting Started
- Some in the scientific world have blamed Christianity for the world's environmental problems. As Lynn White wrote in a famous paper published in the journal Science, "By destroying pagan animism, Christianity made it possible to exploit nature…We shall continue to have a worsening ecologic crisis until we reject the Christian axiom that nature has no reason for existence other than to serve man." How would you respond to a friend who might articulate the same view?
- Christians are called to take care of the world and sustain it. We are meant to be grateful for what we have been given. The earth belongs to the Lord not us.
- How might the fact that we bear the image of God (as seen in our ability to be creative) and that we are fallen (as seen in our ability to be greedy, selfish and destructive) impact our view and use of private property?
- Private property Inspires man's creativity to share and combine resources. Our creativity reflets the fact that we are made in the image of God. Although, Man has fallen therefore private property puts a restraint on our creativity as well.
Day 2 - Resources
Limited or Infinite?
- 1. Sider and other critics claim that modern capitalism is just a Ponzi scheme where we rob from future generations by using all the limited resources now. While there is an obvious “smidgeon of truth” to their claims, Richards maintains their claims only seem obvious. What is the "smidgeon of truth" in their claim, and what do the critics not understand about the full meaning of “resource”?
- Sider and the other critics are right about resources being limited. However they don't understand the full meaning of RESOURCE because they are limited but not when combined with man's infinite creativity.
- 2. What two facts regarding resources did Simon understand that Ehrlich did not?
- We cant focus on the current resources but rather the future ones, and in what ways can they be used. Also over time the resource will become more common and therefore cheaper.
- 3. What question should we ask ourselves when the facts contradict our expectations?
- "What falsehood are we assuming that makes us expect the wrong thing?”
- 5. What is the reason England did not run out of wood and, as most economists predict, we will not run out of natural resources?
- As they were running low on wood the price increased so they had to look to other resources to replace wood since it was too expensive.
- 4. What must we realize and recognize about resources to keep us from the fear that they will run out?
- You must understand the most valuable and irreplicable resource is Mankind. You cannot focus on the physical objects because humans chose what to do with those and how to use them more efficiently.
- 6. Richards maintains that “we need to think, not in two or even three dimensions but in five dimensions.” What two dimensions beyond that of the three space dimensions does he propose?
- The dimension of time and human creativity are the other dimensions he proposed. “We need to reflect on how things change over time and how in free economy human knowledge and creativity build upon themselves. Over time we substitute more and more of the matter in a resource with the unique resource of mind called information. As far as the creation of wealth and resources goes that is the most important dimension of all.”
- 7. Why do consumers willingly sacrifice farmland (i.e., food) for golf courses, shopping centers, and parking lots?
- "If the choice is between eating and no golf or playing golf but no eating, even the most avid golfer would choose eating. But economic choices are not all or none choices. Instead, we make decisions at the margin, deciding if a little more of one option is worth sacrificing a little bit of another."
Running Out of Agricultural Land by Dwight Lee
Day 3 - Global Warming
A Few Questions
- 8. Richards contends that while any thoughtful Christian should look at the evidence for human-induced global warming, we should be careful to not fall into groupthink. What are three assumptions we can make when partisans appeal to “consensus” as opposed to evidence, in a scientific dispute?
- First, “chances are that there is not a consensus”. Second, “the partisans are trying to silence dissent and marginalize dissenters." Third “the evidence for their view is not that great.”
- 9. In Al Gore’s 2007 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, he described the climate crisis as something more than just a “political issue” and presented a challenge and a call. What was the challenge to all humanity and what was the call to those with the power to implement policy?
- His challenge was to see the climate crisis as a moral and spiritual one rather than a political one.” He also has called for environmental protection to become their “central organizing principle.”
- 10. What are the four questions we should ask about global warming?
- Is the planet warming? If the planet is warming, is human activity (like carbon dioxide emissions) causing it? If the planet is warming, and we’re causing it, is that bad overall? If the planet is warming, we’re causing it, and that’s bad, would the most popular policies make any difference?
- And what is the only question on which there really is a scientific consensus?
- the first one- Is the planet warming?
- 11. How are most predictions of future climate change determined? Are they reliable? Why, or why not?
- Most predictions are from computer generated models that aren't accurate because they are preforming the process two times faster than it actually occurs.
- 12. Kyoto now having ended, the U.N. is now touting the Paris Climate Accord which calls on nations to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions. If all the nations kept their promise to reduce emissions, according to the assumptions adopted by the U.N. panel on climate, how much will temperatures be affected, and how much would it cost to achieve that reduction?
- Temperatures would be cut by just 0.5°C and it would just slow the warming down by four years.
- Fill in the blanks below:
- Ultimately this would be a projected _100 trillion dollars_____ price tag to delay a conjectured warming by _4_____ years.
- 13. What’s the good news about long-term environmental progress in modern societies? List at least six environmental improvements that can now be seen in modern societies.
- 1. longer lives 2. Cleaner environment 3. Cleaner air 4. More organic options 5. less toxic fumes are being produced 6. healthier life styles
- 14. Why are strong private-property laws often the best way to encourage people to act in environmentally friendly ways?
- When you have ownership of something you have more incentives to care for it and improve it.
- 15. Why do rich nations and societies worry most about the environment and when will the developing world become more environmentally conscious?
- It is an expensive duty both with money and time to care for the environmental status
The Economy Hits Home - Energy and the Environment
Day 4 - Common Resources
Tragedy of the Commons and Two Theological Facts
- 16. What is the tragedy of the commons?
- a potent explanatory idea that is prominent in contemporary thinking about environmental affairs and the managing of natural resources.
- 17. Does the theory underlying the tragedy of the commons provide insight on why traffic congestion is often a problem? Explain. How might this problem be solved?
- yes. people are trying to get farther and farther faster and faster. to solve this problem many lanes are needed to flow the traffic more smoothly
- 18. Why would the poor and powerless do better in a regime of private property and markets than in a regime of heavy governmental intrusion?
- because they would have the initiative to take and make their private property profitable.
- 19. Professor Hill gives the example of how the Rainey Preserve in Louisiana brought environmentalists and oil companies together in a mutually profitable enterprise. He used this example to illustrate what three advantages about markets and private property rights?
- markets and private property rights arevthat they maximize cooperation, minimize social conflict, and encourage people to find ways of getting along.
- 20. How does recognizing the distinction between the Creator and the created inform our responsibilities to God, and as part of God’s good creation, our responsibility as stewards?
- our responsibility is to take care of his creation and use it to its fullest.
Tragedy Made Simple by William Bennetta
Private Property System Best Benefits Environment
Day 5 - Humane Environmentalism
The Matrix, Matter, and Man
- 21. The idea that we are destroying the planet keeps company with what other fashionable idea?
- that the earth is overpopulated with people
- 22. What does Reverend Robert Sirico’s term “humanophobia” mean?
- the belief that life and earth would be a lot better off if most of us were, well, dead.
- 23. Based on statements made by Eric Pianka in his 2006 keynote address, what is his view of man?
- he thinks man is being a burden to earth and is destroying nature, which he thinks is not for hummans.
- 24. What might be some dangers faced by the next generation if powerful politicians and today's intellectual elite, are convinced that man is nothing more than a consuming parasite?
- they might begin trying to regulate the population growth or send out man made viruses in order to thin the population.
- 25. What is the Achilles heel of the misanthropic strain of modern environmentalism? (Misanthropic: adj. disliking humankind and avoiding human society. Synonyms; antisocial, unneighborly, inhospitable)
- free societies allow human beings to be fruitful and multiply rather than merely consume.
- 26. Considering all you have learned up to this point through this course, what is your view of man?
- Man is created by God, in Gods image, for Gods purposes. We have been given dominion of nature and all the things of the earth for us to us and turn into resources for us to prosper.
Day 6 - Critical Thinking Assignment
The Environment: Air Pollution Today
- 1. Have the national averages of the five pollutants listed above changed over time? Look up the approximate values for each pollutant from the graphs shown in the almanac. List the pollutants and note whether the concentrations of these pollutants are higher or lower today.
- carbon monoxide ozone lead nitrogen dioxide sulfur All 5 have reduced in concentration
- 2. After gathering this data, is the quality of the air in the U.S. better or worse than it was in 1980?
- The air quality has greatly improved since 1980. All the major pollutants have gone down in concertation, thus creating cleaner air.
- 3. Choose 2 cities from the Eastern, Central and Western United states and compare them with two cities from South America, two cities in Asia and two in Europe. You will compare the two from the United States with cities in the other countries so try to choose cities that have roughly similar size and populations. Which two cities from the United States did you choose?
- Cincinnati and Knoxville
- 4. How does the air quality in U.S. cities compare with air quality in cities of roughly the same size in other countries around the world?
- The U.S. air quality is significantly better than other other country's cities. Most of the foreign cities are in the danger zone with bad pollutants and toxins within there air. Some of the pollution in Europe is caused by the excessive burning of wood or the extreme car emissions, due to there busy streets. Asia's biggest issue was the fumes from there power plants, that can even cause sickness. In South America the city of Valencia continues to be one of Spain's most polluted cities. Natal on the other hand, isn't nearly as bad, but still not as good as the U.S.'s cities.
- Which two cities from South America did you choose?
- Natal and Valencia
- Which two cities from Asia did you choose?
- Erbil and Laibin
- Which two cities from Europe did you choose?
- Stockholm and Amsterdam