Joe Maguire: Don’t overlook the economics of climate change

Friday, April 19, 2019

I am an economics major at UMass Amherst, and we have been discussing the economics of climate change.

Economics and climate change are integrated even more than climate change is integrated with environmental science. We all know that pollution and wasting resources pose a danger to our planet, but the solutions usually cost more money.

Electric cars typically cost more than gas-powered ones. Compostable utensils usually cost more than plastic ones.

So the question is, how can we pose less danger to our planet while spending the least amount possible? Economically, this is difficult.

When you look at basic supply and demand graphs, they don’t account for morality. Their goal is to distribute the right amount of goods to consumers, at a price that is fair for both the firms and the consumers.

Adding morals into this equation, such as environmental protection, will cause the price to go up. For example, in 1993, the Clinton administration decided to use recycled paper. The government uses a large amount of paper, so this decision greatly affected the paper and recycled paper industries. As the demand for recycled paper went up, the price also went up.

Now as we’re moving forward with climate change legislation, we must make similar decisions. Just as Clinton decided that the extra price for paper is worth it to help the environment, we must decide if other measures are worth the extra price.

Proposals such as the Green New Deal are unimaginably expensive and likely will never be passed through Congress, but perhaps there is a middle-ground proposal that will receive more votes and will protect the environment at a similar level.

Joe Maguire