Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New blog on the Environmental Ethics list

© 2009 Joshua Stark

The circles that the internet spins can really be fascinating, but I'm sure they relate to the little, nerdy worlds we build for ourselves. At the very least, it provides us nerds the ability to find each other, though we live thousands of miles away, or move parallel to each other in the same communities.

While at Environmental Economics, I found them linking to a gentleman at Davis (now at Berkeley), one David Zetland. His blog, Aguanomics, is a great blog on economics and water issues, and he also seems to have a great experiment going with his students (?), letting them blog economics issues. The students' works offer great real-world economics perspectives on various human enterprises - my current favorite, of course, is the entry on hunting.

Another bonus the students' writings provide for non-economics types are examples of the style of analysis economics brings to various issues. I've been trying to organize, in my head, a way to defend economics as an analysis such that folks reading economics analyses can understand the conclusions without automatically shutting down or yelling at the paper. It's hard to do, but these students are doing it.

Take that hunting blurb. The author, Ms. Riggs, does not take a side about the ethics of hunting. She explains the sides in the context of the usefulness (joy, food, etc.) of hunting to the individual, and then uses that explanation to draw some economic conclusions. However, I believe that people who both love and hate hunting will read through it, and argue with Ms. Riggs at times, because she either doesn't completely get the argument, or she missed something, etc. But, that isn't the point of this analysis. Although the ethics of the concept are important (and a major reason why economics shouldn't be the only way to look at issues), she focuses on the utility, or usefulness, of the activity to the individual.

So, if you get a chance, read the various economic analyses from the students, and comment on them. Hopefully, these real-world examples will help illuminate some basic concepts of economics.

As for Mr. Zetland's work, I think it's great. His perspectives on water are sorely needed in California's State Capitol as well as in D.C. Read his stuff, too.

1 comment:

Donald "Bud" Stark said...

Another, "But wait!" "Economics shouldn't be the only way to look at issues" throws me. I thought that if I got my economics right all other good things would follow. Where did I go wrong?