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Chinese agriculture

Nearly 1/5th of Chinese agricultural land is toxic. Forget about measured economic growth targets – this is a madness. (51)

Water shortages

I get The Guardian weekly and, over recent months, it has run an excellent serious of articles on global water (especially groundwater) shortages. I know a bit about the situation in China and India but the problems faced by California and the Middle East are also huge. The situation is grim and could lead to [...]

Gloom on the oceans

New Scientist summarizes the recent State of the Oceans Report.

“We know the oceans are warming. We know they are acidifying. And now, to cap it all, it turns out they are suffocating, too. A new health check on the state of the oceans warns that they will have lost as much as 7 per [...]

Cultural vandals in Botanic Gardens

What they have done to the ancient trees in Melbourne’s Botanic Gardens by ring-barking them is horrible. What is says about the mentality of certain sections of the human race is much worse. The cretins who did this were born by mistake. The world would be a better place if they had never existed. Moreover, [...]

Mortality costs of Chinese air pollution

I discussed my experiences with air pollution in some southern Chinese cities. It is far worse in the northern China which is home to some of the world’s most polluted cities. This paper by Yuyu Chen, Avraham Ebenstein, Michael Greenstone and Li Hongbin on China’s Huai River Policy has astounding implications. The while paper can [...]

Some thoughts on Chinese environmental issues

I am back in Australia after a month in China in Changsha, Hunan Province. It was a most enjoyable and instructive stay. People have asked me about my visit and what I learnt and I think there are two core messages that I would like to (tentatively) convey.

Environment. The first and most obvious problems [...]

Common property issues on the Yangtze

I posted recently on the environmental problems at Yueyang and Dongting Lake. This is an excellent short article from The Economist that links the general environmental problems of the Yangtze with the priorities of the Chinese government in developing central and Western China. There are a myriad of complex issues here. (509)

Vehicle-driven pollution emissions & severe health damages among children

For some reason – it may be the near universal introduction of unleaded gasoline in most countries – the role of vehicular emissions on human health has been deemphasised in many environmental economics discussion. Of course we all know about the terrible air pollution problems in the mega-cities of the developing world but these aberrant [...]

Dead ducks in Chinese river as swine flow eases

I wasn’t sure whether this suggested water quality was improving or not. I suppose 1,000 dead ducks are better than 14,000+ dead pigs.

After all (quoted from the last link):

“Authorities have assured the 23 million residents of the Shanghai urban area that the water supply, of which 20% comes from the Huangpu (the pig-cum-dead-duck [...]

Deep ecology & environmental economics

I have been interesting myself in the “deep ecology” movement (a good introduction is the Wikipedia link here) having recently heard the Australian, John Seed, speak on the topic*. (1200)

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Cats & the environment

A while back I ran a post on a really silly article in The Age defending the role of feral cats in the environment arguing that negative attitudes toward them were analogous to racism towards migrants. The facts are that cats are among the most destructive element in our local environment.

This claim is verified [...]

Some pollution costs

While I was working in Beijing during 2010 some of the worst air pollution ever struck that city. It seems that these pollution records have been broken over the past few days with the thickest ever blanket of PM 2.5 particulates covering much of north east China – the video clip in this story promotes [...]

Some environmental ethics

I have been engaged in trying to understand some environmental ethical issues. Comments very welcome. (3352)

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John Stuart Mill on nature, population size & the value of solitude

I’ve used it before but, who cares, its my favourite Mill quote. Its about the most sensible general statement on “optimal population” and the need to co-exist with nature that I have come across. (2239)

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The Whipstick

I gave an economics class today at La Trobe University, Bendigo – to a highly motivated group of students – on carbon pricing. I felt a reasonable compensation for this assignment was the opportunity to head out into the Whipstick Forest around Bendigo. They were in great condition given the recent rains – wildflowers everywhere [...]

Robert Gordon’s technological pessimism (revised)

It is mainly during the last 300 years that sustained economic gains to certain people have occurred. For the most part these people were living in industrializing Western-style, market-based economies. From the longer-term historical perspective of human existence over 50,000 years this sustained, broad-based economic progress has been a relatively short-lived aberration. (2517)

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What will kill our kids

I have acquired something of a reputation as the economist who is obsessed with the harm of tobacco products. “There he goes again….” There might be an element of truth to this but maybe, because it reflects a reality, it is a relatively healthy obsession. I’ve been reading a report by the OECD (2012) on [...]

Old growth forest in Victoria nearly gone

About 99% of Victoria’s wet eucalytus old growth forest has been destroyed by logging and forest fire in what amounts to an ecological catastrophe. By-in-large the 450 year old forests have been irreversibly replaced by scrubby wattles.

It is not green fanaticism to suggest that harvesting of such forests should now cease entirely with [...]

Population-size & the environment

These are the comments I made at a Productivity Commission Roundtable on a paper by Don Henry that was concerned with environmental population interactions. More generally I was concerned with synthesising a variety of approaches to this issue – from extreme libertarian ‘gains-from-trade’ arguments favouring a large population to extreme Malthusian arguments that supporters of [...]

Costs of vehicle-induced air pollution

When I worked on transport sector externality issues recently I became aware of the issue of the impact of air pollution from vehicles on human health. Concern with this issue has subsided a lot over recent years because of improved emissions performance by vehicles. Most attention gets focused on traffic congestion issues and road accident [...]