Pollution is an Attack on Human Capital

Here’s the latest video from MRU where I cover some interesting papers on the effect of pollution on health, cognition and productivity. The video is pre-Covid but one could also note that pollution makes Covid more dangerous. For principles of economics classes the video is a good introduction to externalities and also to causal inference, most notably the difference in difference method.

Might I also remind any instructor that Modern Principles of Economics has more high-quality resources to teach online than any other textbook.

Comments

Does this mean we still have to choose between a dirty, rich world and a clean, poor one? Defining externalities is to look for the sweet spot.

I don't believe we have the human capital to build a rich, clean world; so better to make a profitable mess then clean it up (the sweet spot).

But with higher exposure to pollutants we have to do the cleanup with reduced IQ?

I think Wall-E covered this.

Unfortunately the rich world devised a variety of pollutants that can't be cleaned up, and contamination that can't be undone. Ever.

Toothpaste back in the tube as it were.

I think Bigelow Aerospace should have some space hotels/ condos available for low earth orbit before the Covid-27 in 8 years time or there is Utopia that ownable forever-round-the-world condo cruise, if we are up-to-date on our vaccines. For Landlords would never live where they build, yet still they must build; unless you over-regulate, then they will not build. So, better a world of built garbage or unbuilt paradise? There is no happy ending - only Seaside, Florida.

Thesis:
Economics = quantifying 'Necessary Evil'
Well, that's unfortunate.

Well: You All Economists observed it, researched it, quantified it, proselytized it, policy-soaked it, and normalized it; what with you're:
- inevitability of the business cycle;
- unavoidability of scarcity and rivalry;
- demonization of utility maximization;
and other such 'vision-less' gloomy-desparation-nomics.
So, stop knowing stuff, show some imagination, and start fixing it.

The contradiction in this thesis is that in those places where pollution is the worst there is little effort or desire to clean it up. But in those places where pollution is the least, but by coincidence there is wealth, the effort to clean up pollution by taxes and loss of rights, is the greatest. One would almost think that the whole anti-pollution argument is a surrogate for grabbing power and wealth.

Wow. That's a whole other level of Cynicism I could never hope to reach.

A simple but alternate explanation is that when you stop worrying about having enough to eat today, you start to worry about longer term health risks.

Ask a supermarket checker about the trade-offs.

What other different community dynamics or specialized programs - NIMBYism vs For-Profit-Employment/Tax influence or Superfund/ ARPA-E could then shift externality definitions/ values/ priorities. How much and which government can nudge the conversation so other parties will contribute.

@The Other Jenn

Bigelow Aerospace laid off all of its staff recently. Planetary Resources is also in trouble. I can't tell if it's the pandemic or things were going too slowly.

"I don't believe we have the human capital to build a rich, clean world"

The population is too small?

We have too few people to build wind and solar farms and energy storage systems?

Too few people to build electric vehicles?

Too few people to figure out how to build high speed underground transportation systems?

Or simply too few Elon Musk's?

Looking at products coming out of China, I'd say China has thousands of Elon Musk potentials, just as China has multiples of Jeff Bezos, etc.

Given Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos defied Wall Street and navigated all government regulation that supposedly prevents innovators from delivering products in the US, why is the US building the "human capital" required to replace the century old polluting legacy systems?

Which regulation says your kid must not be Jeff Bezos or Elon Muxk, must not be Jack Ma or Wang Chuanfu?

When the followings items have been accomplished or whether workable plans have been legislated so that they will be accomplished before 2050, then your comments have merit. Since the majority of people (human capital) continue to conduct themselves contrary to such goals or the legislation of such goals occurring in their country, I choose to believe otherwise. The onus is on you.
Required for rich world (2020$):
G7 countries minimum GDP per capita=$65k; remaining G20 countries GDP per capita=$35k; remaining countries per capita=$10k;
G7 countries %capita less than $6.50/day<0.01%; remaining G20 countries %capita less than $6.50 day<1%; remaining countries %capita less than $6.50 day95%; remaining G20 countries %capita secondary education attainment>75%; remaining countries %capita secondary education attainment>50%.
Required for clean world:
G7 countries GHG(CO2eq) per capita<7.5t(m); remaining countries GHG(CO2eq) per capita<12t(m); G7 countries AirQuality PM2.5<10%/yrALL<10ppm; remaining countries AirQuality PM2.5<25%<25; G7 countries Fossil Fuel as Energy Source <50% all electric prod; remaining countries Fossil Fuel as Energy Source <75% all electric prod.

See content - repasted (for missing bits):
Required for rich world (2020$):
G7 countries minimum GDP per capita=$65k; remaining G20 countries GDP per capita=$35k; remaining countries per capita=$10k;
G7 countries %capita less than $6.50/day<0.01%; remaining G20 countries %capita less than $6.50 day<1%; remaining countries %capita less than $6.50 day95%; remaining G20 countries %capita secondary education attainment>75%; remaining countries %capita secondary education attainment>50%.
Required for clean world:
G7 countries GHG(CO2eq) per capita<7.5t(m); remaining countries GHG(CO2eq) per capita<12t(m); G7 countries AirQuality PM2.5<10%/yrALL<10ppm; remaining countries AirQuality PM2.5<25%<25; G7 countries Fossil Fuel as Energy Source <50% all electric prod; remaining countries Fossil Fuel as Energy Source <75% all electric prod.

See content - repasted (for missing bits 2):
Required for rich world (2020$):
G7 countries minimum GDP per capita=$65k; remaining G20 countries GDP per capita=$35k; remaining countries per capita=$10k;
G7 countries %capita less than $6.50/day<0.01%; remaining G20 countries %capita less than $6.50 day<1%; remaining countries %capita less than $6.50 day95%; remaining G20 countries %capita secondary education attainment>75%; remaining countries %capita secondary education attainment>50%.
Required for clean world:
G7 countries GHG(CO2eq) per capita<7.5t(m); remaining countries GHG(CO2eq) per capita<12t(m); G7 countries AirQuality PM2.5<10%/yrALL<10ppm; remaining countries AirQuality PM2.5<25%<25; G7 countries Fossil Fuel as Energy Source <50% all electric prod; remaining countries Fossil Fuel as Energy Source <75% all electric prod.

G7 countries %capita less than $6.50/day<0.01%;
remaining G20 countries %capita less than $6.50 day<1%;
remaining countries %capita less than $6.50 day<10%

No. It just means we have to go in for Gen IV nuclear power in a big way.

Unfortunately, I am not convinced that we will be moving faster towards centralized power sources and distribution, than the needed increase in power needs (hence centralized power a smaller part of the overall mix of a larger pie) after we have come though this recent assault on our collective techno-communal culture. Covid-19 will make us more individualized, self-serving, suspicious of communal infrastructure (except IT and netflix), and seeking a low-level doomsday-prepper mindset with energy, transpo, and food. So, more Musk solar-shingles and power-paks/ geo/ conventional off-the-grid support (where practicable) -mixed- with our current ageing and calcifying grid (unless Gen4 nuke includes those mini-portable nukes in a tractor-trailer that serves smaller communities and can be stacked).

Decentralized power would have to be those Gen 4 mini-nukes or possibly some kind of LENR.
https://alfinnextlevel.wordpress.com/2016/10/18/small-nuclear-reactors-for-homesteading-and-survival-compounds/

My right to punch you ends at your face. Unless I want to poison you with the externalities of my business model. Then my right is absolute. Because deregulation.

One industry that has benefited from the covid shutdowns: polluting. It's an essential industry dontchaknow, polluting is

What on earth are you talking about, and at whom is it directed?

I am going to guess that I am directing it at you.

Touche´

I don't get it. "Polluting" isn't an industry, and emissions have decreased due to the forced economic slowdown (so "Polluting" can't have benefited from the shutdowns). Frankly I think being "clever" and indirect in communication is way overrated these days.

Fair enough. I did assume a familiarity with current events.

https://e360.yale.edu/digest/trump-administration-to-weaken-limits-on-mercury-and-other-toxic-pollutants

https://insideclimatenews.org/news/23032020/trump-epa-health-secret-science-coronavirus

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/31/trump-epa-obama-clean-car-rules-climate-change

https://www.ecowatch.com/fracking-colorado-federal--land-2645703280.html?rebelltitem=2#rebelltitem2

I expect there’s a discussion of the Hannes Schwandt (et al.) paper about the diesel ‘emissions cheating‘ cars? You should have him on your podcast. Partly because I have a boring statistical question about something he wrote in a different paper about controlling for confounders in regressions that I don’t quite get.

All organisms produce externalities that are negative to some other organisms. Such is life on earth.

A little negative externality in Orange County, California:

“They’re holding us hostage for no reason. The virus is not true. I mean, it’s true, but it’s not like a pandemic,” she said. “We think it’s New World Order trying to take over.”

Fagernes added that she believes she had the virus back in November “like 90% of Californians.”

“I’m not gonna wear a mask. I’m not gonna be a sheep,” she said. “It’s just like you having a chip. If you don’t wear a mask you don’t get to do things.”

https://ktla.com/news/local-news/demonstrators-gather-in-huntington-beach-to-protest-states-stay-at-home-order-and-defying-social-distancing-rules

I hope she isn't a Trader Joe's shopper.

Trump adviser Stephen Moore(*):

“I call these people the modern-day Rosa Parks — they are protesting against injustice and a loss of liberties.”

* - per Bill Kristol

If Trader Joe's demands that customers don masks and tin foil hats before entering its stores, then there is no problem. (You should try wearing a tin foil hat to see if it helps with your TDS.)

“They called me mad. They called me insane. They called me looney. They were right!”

Your're right. Maybe I should acknowledge that Trump has become the statesman, the genius, the moral exemplar I never thought he could be ..

or not. How does chloroquine taste, anyway?

Are they fake like Rosa Parks was, too? Supported by an organization looking for a better face for their movement?

One would think that some sort of pandemics-hoaxer organization would try to get someone better than the usually reviled deplorable types.

Problem is, some organisms are more external than others.

Attacking pollution is an attack on capital.

Ask ExxonMobil if there is any confusion on this point.

This why the Dimocrats should make clean air and water one of their 3 major issues.
Forget climate change as it is to politically charged. Besides, if you don't pollute, you move towards reducing climate change.

"clean air and water" would become "politically charged" the moment a Democrat said they were good

Rolling coal to own the libs has already been done.

to test this "hypothesis", let us examine the "cognition and productivity" of people in regions of relatively no pollution, like North Korea.

What is the human achievement coming out of North Korea compared to the polluted mess that is the state of Texas.

Or compare Los Angeles of 2019 to Los Angeles in 1989. Much cleaner air in 2019 -- and a more productive economy.

Even charcoal lighter fluid for your backyard barbecue is heavily regulated in LA -- and the air has become progressively cleaner over the decades.

San Bernardino County bans charcoal lighter fluid. Much of the Mojave Desert is in that county. No one can tell if the air is cleaner in Barstow now than it was in 1985.

The word “externality” is Orwellian doublespeak. Pollution moves costs from one balance sheet to another, typically as an expression of power rather than negotiated agreement. If someone walked into your house and stole your TV, you’d call the police or beat the crap out of the interloper. When someone poisons your kids, you suck it up. Too weird.

What's weird are the so-called libertarians who defend it

Is that what Alex is doing?

actually TC and AT seem to be bouncing off the walls

If you wanted to get rid of your mother-in-law how long do suppose you'd have to feed her fillets of blue fin tuna in order to get the job done?

As usual Tabarrok cherry picks to advance his simple minded narratives. Fails to mention that the New Jersey study findings were not replicated in similar studies elsewhere, for example California: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15629991/ Students seeking something other than indoctrination would do well to check out more analytical thinkers, for example Stephen Milloy at CEI, who has a new excellent, thorough and nuanced analysis of the health effects of air “pollution” out.

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