Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Economics of our Environment

This is an issue we will be hearing more about. Global environmental factors create our economic situation; the current rates of production and consuption, in turn, reflect back on the environment in a giant cycle that affects everyone in totally unpredictable ways. Exciting! And there are loads of funny people who think they understand it. Which makes for great comedy. We can sit and laugh at people like Sir Nicholas as they scream like headless chickens. That is not to say we should ignore the issues, rather caution is the buzzword. Try not to spend 1/2 the GDP on a dubious "environmental" project.

Should we just plant lots of trees and see what happens? Dell Computer began doing just that in an effort to offset environmental damage caused by its electronic devices. The catch: they want customers to pay ($2 extra for a laptop, $6 for a desktop). Michael Dell has called on fellow electronics companies to follow suit. See the LA Times article on the Gates Foundation to see why this may be at best a gimmick, at worst, folly.

Economics diversifies its portfolio: see story, see also Freakonomics.

Build a brain research institute. It's become a popular hobby today among people with cash to burn. Check back here for the list of those who have done it.

Happiness, the final frontier. The Economist ran a front page article, "Happiness (and how to measure it)," in its Christmas issue. The NY Times discussed Happiness 101, the new so-called Positive Psychology that has become the rage on college campuses across the country.

Economics was always about money, psychology dealt with mental illnes. Now, these disciplines are turning their tools on a goal so elusive, the DoI promised only the right to pursue it, never to attain it.

Howard Stern is earning almost $600 million for luring record subscribers on satellite radio.

To recap: environment, economics, neuroscience, and radio

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