Offsetting is egoistic – but less egoistic than you, so (kind of) embrace it!

If correctly interpreted, the common objections against environmental (and maybe other types of) offsetting are not valid critiques of offsetting, but instead more generally of our consumerist lifestyle. Rather than bad, offsetting is the very least to do, given that we anyway don’t abstain from spending money on inessential things while millions starve and […]

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Is Bioism as problematic as Speciecism?

Many of us are afraid of intelligent machines to eventually take control. But here a thought: Is this fear partly based on what I’m inclined to call an ethically problematic “bioism” limiting our empathy and care to humans as well as to – for those not too speciecistic – biological living […]

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The interesting case of altruism studies – No serious utilitarian out there?

Experimenters studying altruistic contributions regularly interpret it as clear sign of egoism when participants opt for money as opposed to things like saving the life of mice or increasing the payoff of fellow participants. From a utilitarian perspective this seems odd: I might well take the money, simply to donate it later to where I get the most bang for […]

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Grundeinkommen – Befreiung mit Nebenwirkungen

Befürworter des bedingungslosen Grundeinkommens haben das Herz am rechten Fleck. Existenzsichernd ist diese Umverteilung aber kaum finanzierbar. Das Konzept stützt zudem darauf ab, dass Freiwilligenarbeit eine höhere Art der Beschäftigung sei – eine Sichtweise, die der zentralen Rolle von Geld und (Arbeits-)Preisen nicht gerecht wird. Unabhängig vom gewünschten Grad der […]

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April 3, 2016 Florian migration no responses

Ökonomie und Massenmigration

Sehr gelungener kurzer “Versuch eines Leitfadens durch Mythen, Trugschlüsse, Viertel- und Halbwahrheiten” über ökonomische Effekte von Massenmigration auf Ursprungs- und Zielländer und deren Einwohner von Franz R. Hahn auf Ökonomenstimme: Ökonomie und Massenmigration.

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Altruism, Religion and Self-Enhancement in a Framework of Ad-Hoc Evolutionary Adaptation

We review evolutionary explanations for three major puzzles of the human mind: altruism, religiosity and self-enhancement. Human altruism reaches beyond reciprocity or close-kin care readily explained by game theory and genetic kin selection. Group selection is widely seen as too weak to lead to substantial altruism as it struggles to contain selfishness favored by within-group selection. Yet, reciprocity and punishment leverage the effectiveness of altruism within a group, and genuine altruism is testified to be weak, leaving scope for explanation even by a force as weak as group selection. Moralistic religious culture appears tightly linked to altruism, yet the fitness advantage of a defector within a religious society makes it difficult to conceive religion or related genetic predisposition as an evolutionarily stable strategy. Self-enhancement has direct links to altruism and religiosity, leading to warm-glow altruistic contributions and increased receptiveness to comforting narratives of heavenly justice. Suggested intra-personal and inter-personal benefits of self-enhancement do not detail how the trait should be competitive against more direct behavioral adjustments that yield similar personal benefits but avoid the fitness costs of misperception. We explain religion and bias as imperfect ad-hoc evolutionary adaptations rather than perfect evolutionarily stable strategies. The scant time available for fine-tuning the mind since the emergence of higher cognitive capabilities means near-perfect traits were unlikely to appear, and the extraordinary evolutionary pressure induced by the rapidly evolving environment favored a broad range of genetic novelties despite extra costs.

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Carbon Leakage: A Medium- and Long-Term View

Future market developments determine the fate of fossil fuel carbon currently conserved unilaterally. Dynamic fuel depletion naturally suggests leakage rates approaching 100%. Reasons for lower leakage differ from what limits rates in previous studies. Discounting reduces present-value leakage as global emissions are delayed. Containing climate change requires future global political or technological breakthroughs to conserve some carbon forever. Early breakthroughs limit leakage but with late breakthroughs most unilateral emission reductions may be negated abroad. Future coal liquefaction suggests negative leakage rates for current mitigation, but a perfect backstop allows leakage above unity. Leakage rates and suggested taxes vary across fuels.

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March 16, 2012 Florian environmental economics no responses

Umwelt durch Preise Schützen

Von vielen Nicht-Ökonomen wird ein Umweltschutz der hauptsächlich auf Preissignalen, sprich Umweltsteuern, beruht, oft immer noch sehr skeptisch betrachtet. Dabei schützt eine Bepreisung der Verschmutzung die Umwelt wenigstens so gut wie pro-Kopf Grenzwerte und ist sowohl für die ärmeren als auch die reicheren Bevölkerungsschichten vorteilhaft. Damit ist die Bepreisung – […]

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Optimal Fuel-Specific Carbon Pricing and Time Dimension of Leakage

All current, and likely near-term future, climate protection measures only cover a limited fraction of global emissions. A single value attached to (independent of the source that generates it), for market based instruments such as CO2 taxes or cap-and-trade systems, is insufficient to account for the complex economic interlinkages between specific emission-generating activities and CO2 emissions throughout the world. First, static partial and general equilibrium models illustrate how different types of emissions are subject to specific General Equilibrium Translation Factors and leakage effects, which define the optimal pattern of fuel-specific, unilateral carbon taxes. The leakage, which implies that regional emission avoidance may partly be offset in other regions and time periods, depends on the type of resources involved and the characteristics of the markets in which they are traded. Second, a dynamic model accounting for fuel exhaustibility shows that the time-dimension is crucial and that the relevant medium-term leakage may be much larger than suggested static rates. Sensible leakage rates depend on discount rates for future emissions and on uncertain future technological and political developments. The traditional leakage literature does not explicitly consider these, even though in their absence overall leakage would approach 100 %. Instead, literature has mainly focused on static fuel supply curves and rates of contemporaneous leakage.

The numerical simulations show that in a business-as-usual scenario the optimal unilateral OECD climate tax rate on CO2 emissions from oil may be only half of the tax rate on emissions from coal. This is reverted if the CO2 intensive coal-to-liquids conversion processes become an important additional source of liquid fuels in future: negative leakage occurs and the optimal current climate tax on oil emissions may be up to two times the genuine regional willingness to pay for global emission reductions, even if the substitution of crude oil by synthetic liquids starts only in the future.

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The Law of Small Abatements: Prices over Quantities in Realistic Climate Policies

A fundamental question of high practical relevance for climate policy design is whether price controls such as CO2 taxes, or quantity restrictions such as emission quotas should be preferred. I show that as the reach of climate policies is limited in terms of either suboptimally low reduction targets or the policy’s extent over only parts of the world, the likelihood of price measures to be more advantageous in terms of minimizing uncertainty related welfare losses increases. The increase of the relative advantage of the price mechanisms over quantity measures may be more than proportional to the regional limitedness of the policy, suggesting that even for relatively important climate coalitions the identified factor implies a clear advantage for price measures. This analysis of the prices vs. quantities question is closer to so far on a high political level seriously discussed climate policies, not to speak of already implemented local or regional climate policies, than previous theoretical literature addressing the issue, which typically relied on the assumption of first bests (i.e. global) policies. Illustrating the main thought of the analysis, I explain why in the example of policies with an extent corresponding to the current Kyoto mechanism, the simple theoretical weighting of the price vs. the quantity approach seems to favor price mechanisms independently of the exact form of the global abatement cost and benefit curves.

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Economics, Environment, Energy, Ethics, Evolution, Etc.