Climate Controlled

Kevin Lewis

September 24, 2009

Doing Well By Doing Good? Green Office Buildings

Piet Eichholtz, Nils Kok & John Quigley
American Economic Review, forthcoming

This paper provides the first credible evidence on the economic value of the certification of "green buildings"  — derived from impersonal market transactions rather than engineering estimates. Our analysis of clusters of certified green buildings and nearby comparables establishes that buildings with "green ratings" command substantially higher rents and selling prices than otherwise identical buildings. Moreover, variations in the premium for green office buildings are systematically related to their energy-saving characteristics. An increase in the energy efficiency of a green building is associated with a substantial increase in selling price — over and above the premium for a labeled building. Further evidence suggests that the intangible effects of the label itself may also play a role in determining the values of green buildings in the marketplace.


Is CARS a Clunker?

Burton Abrams & George Parsons
The Economists' Voice, August 2009

"With per vehicle environmental benefits at $596 and the costs at $2,600 per vehicle, the clunker program is a net drain on society of roughly $2,000 per vehicle. Given the approximately 700,000 vehicles in the program, we estimate the total welfare loss to be about $1.4 billion. The welfare loss would be even greater if we fine tuned our estimate of the social cost per gallon to account for the spatial mix of clunkers. Clunkers, especially the trucks that comprise a large percentage of the traded-in vehicles, may have been retired disproportionately from rural locations where the social costs of pollutants are significantly lower. Also, if the average value of clunkers exceeds our conservative figure of $1000, then cost of the program would be higher. Even if the environmental gains were double our estimate, the net drain would still be close to $1 billion."


Long-term natural variability and 20th century climate change

Kyle Swanson, George Sugihara & Anastasios Tsonis
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Global mean temperature at the Earth's surface responds both to externally imposed forcings, such as those arising from anthropogenic greenhouse gases, as well as to natural modes of variability internal to the climate system. Variability associated with these latter processes, generally referred to as natural long-term climate variability, arises primarily from changes in oceanic circulation. Here we present a technique that objectively identifies the component of inter-decadal global mean surface temperature attributable to natural long-term climate variability. Removal of that hidden variability from the actual observed global mean surface temperature record delineates the externally forced climate signal, which is monotonic, accelerating warming during the 20th century.


Can Nature Make Us More Caring? Effects of Immersion in Nature on Intrinsic Aspirations and Generosity

Netta Weinstein, Andrew Przybylski & Richard Ryan
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, October 2009, Pages 1315-1329

Four studies examined the effects of nature on valuing intrinsic and extrinsic aspirations. Intrinsic aspirations reflected prosocial and other-focused value orientations, and extrinsic aspirations predicted self-focused value orientations. Participants immersed in natural environments reported higher valuing of intrinsic aspirations and lower valuing of extrinsic aspirations, whereas those immersed in non-natural environments reported increased valuing of extrinsic aspirations and no change of intrinsic aspirations. Three studies explored experiences of nature relatedness and autonomy as underlying mechanisms of these effects, showing that nature immersion elicited these processes whereas non-nature immersion thwarted them and that they in turn predicted higher intrinsic and lower extrinsic aspirations. Studies 3 and 4 also extended the paradigm by testing these effects on generous decision making indicative of valuing intrinsic versus extrinsic aspirations.


Peak globalization: Climate change, oil depletion and global trade

Fred Curtis
Ecological Economics, forthcoming

The global trade in goods depends upon reliable, inexpensive transportation of freight along complex and long-distance supply chains. Global warming and peak oil undermine globalization by their effects on both transportation costs and the reliable movement of freight. Countering the current geographic pattern of comparative advantage with higher transportation costs, climate change and peak oil will thus result in peak globalization, after which the volume of exports will decline as measured by ton-miles of freight. Policies designed to mitigate climate change and peak oil are very unlikely to change this result due to their late implementation, contradictory effects and insufficient magnitude. The implication is that supply chains will become shorter for most products and that production of goods will be located closer to where they are consumed.


Lose Some, Save Some: Obesity, Automobile Demand, and Gasoline Consumption in the U.S.

Shanjun Li, Yanyan Liu & Junjie Zhang
SUNY Working Paper, June 2009

This paper examines the unexplored link between the prevalence of overweight and obesity and vehicle demand in the United States. Exploring annual sales data of new passenger vehicles at the model level in 48 U.S. counties from 1999 to 2005, we find that a 10 percentage points increase in the rate of overweight and obesity reduces the average MPG of new vehicles demanded by 2.5 percent: an effect requires a 30 cents increase in gasoline price to counteract. Our findings suggest that polices aimed to reduce overweight and obesity can have additional benefits to energy security and the environment.


Nonlinear temperature effects indicate severe damages to U.S. crop yields under climate change

Wolfram Schlenker & Michael Roberts
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

The United States produces 41% of the world's corn and 38% of the world's soybeans. These crops comprise two of the four largest sources of caloric energy produced and are thus critical for world food supply. We pair a panel of county-level yields for these two crops, plus cotton (a warmer-weather crop), with a new fine-scale weather dataset that incorporates the whole distribution of temperatures within each day and across all days in the growing season. We find that yields increase with temperature up to 29° C for corn, 30° C for soybeans, and 32° C for cotton but that temperatures above these thresholds are very harmful. The slope of the decline above the optimum is significantly steeper than the incline below it. The same nonlinear and asymmetric relationship is found when we isolate either time-series or cross-sectional variations in temperatures and yields. This suggests limited historical adaptation of seed varieties or management practices to warmer temperatures because the cross-section includes farmers' adaptations to warmer climates and the time-series does not. Holding current growing regions fixed, area-weighted average yields are predicted to decrease by 30-46% before the end of the century under the slowest (B1) warming scenario and decrease by 63-82% under the most rapid warming scenario (A1FI) under the Hadley III model.


The Demand for Environmental Quality: An Application of Hedonic Pricing in Golf

Frank Limehouse, Peter Melvin & Robert McCormick
Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming

The analysis uses an exhaustive golf course database that contains over 100 golf course variables on more than 15,000 golf courses in the United States combined with data from the Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary Program to examine the market setting of environmental certification on golf courses. Using the Rosen (1974) two-stage estimation technique, quality-adjusted structural demand and supply equations for golf are estimated. A standard hedonic pricing model shows a substantial price premium for environmentally certified Audubon International golf courses. Additional results suggest that the increase in marginal benefits of certification is approximately equal to the increase in marginal costs.


Ecological Imperialism and the Global Metabolic Rift: Unequal Exchange and the Guano/Nitrates Trade

Brett Clark & John Bellamy Foster
International Journal of Comparative Sociology, June/August 2009, Pages

Transfers in economic values are shadowed in complex ways by real material-ecological flows that transform ecological relations between city and country, and between the core and periphery. Directing material flows is a vital part of intercapitalist competition. Ecological imperialism creates asymmetries in the exploitation of the environment, unequal exchange, and a global metabolic rift. The 19th-century guano/nitrates trade illustrates the emergence of a global metabolic rift, as guano and nitrates were transferred from Peru and Chile to enrich the soils of Britain and other imperial countries. This global metabolic rift entailed the decline of soil fertility in Britain, importation of Chinese labor to Peru, mass export of natural fertilizer, degradation of the Peruvian/Chilean environment, war over possession of nitrates, and creation of debt-laden economies. It allowed Britain and other imperial countries to maintain an `environmental overdraft' in their own countries, imperialistically drawing on the natural resources of the periphery. The social metabolic order of capitalism is inseparable from such ecological imperialism, which is as basic to the system as the search for profits itself.


Assessing poverty-deforestation links: Evidence from Swat, Pakistan

Shaheen Rafi Khan & Shahrukh Rafi Khan
Ecological Economics, 15 August 2009, Pages 2607-2618

This paper contributes to the debate on the links between poverty and forestry degradation; the view that due to poverty and the meeting of subsistence needs the poor use natural resources more intensively and hence cause them to degrade. Using the case of the forest rich Swat district, Pakistan, the paper addresses the issue empirically, historically, and institutionally. We do not find empirical support for the "poverty-environment nexus", in that the poor and other income groups are equally resource dependent and also show that resource degradation is not associated with poverty. Our historical and institutional analyses provide alternative explanations for resource degradation. Selective and rotating ownership patterns, starting with the 17th century, provided limited incentive for resource conservation. It also created tension between de jure and de facto owners, that has persisted, and is one source of forest degradation. Ill-defined resource rights have also exacerbated the impacts of several other factors contributing to forest degradation which is compounded by poor management, corruption, and perverse incentives.


Existential threat and compliance with pro-environmental norms

Immo Fritsche, Eva Jonas & Nicolas Koranyi
Journal of Environmental Psychology, forthcoming

Recent research on the effects of personal threat suggests that perceived threat might enhance pro-environmental behavior when pro-environmental norms are in focus. In three experiments we found support for the latter assumption, showing that mortality salience and salience of pro-environmental norms interacted in predicting pro-environmental attitudes and information search (Study 1), sustainable behavior in a forest management game (Study 2), as well as pro-environmental intentions and behavior (Study 3). Specifically, mortality salience increased pro-environmental conduct only when pro-environmental norms were salient. Moreover, norm salience only had an effect on pro-environmental attitudes and behavior when the threat of personal mortality was salient. We discuss the implications of these results for both terror management theory and the promotion of pro-environmental behaviors.


Simulation of economic losses from tropical cyclones in the years 2015 and 2050the effects of anthropogenic climate change and growing wealth

Silvio Schmidt, Claudia Kemfert, Eberhard Faust
German Institute for Economic Research Working Paper, August 2009

This paper simulates the increase in the average annual loss from tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic for the years 2015 and 2050. The simulation is based on assumptions concerning wealth trends in the regions affected by the storms, considered by the change in material assets (capital stock). Further assumptions are made about the trend in storm intensity resulting from anthropogenic climate change. The simulations use a stochastic model that models the annual storm loss from the number of storms and the loss per storm event. The paper demonstrates that increasing wealth will continue to be the principle loss driver in the future (average annual loss in 2015 +32%, in 2050 +308%). But climate change will also lead to higher losses (average annual loss in 2015 +4%, in 2050 +11%). In order to reduce the uncertainties surrounding the assumptions on the trend in capital stock and storm intensity, a sensitivity analysis was carried out, based on the assumptions from current studies on the future costs for tropical storms.


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