Common Tragedies

Thoughts on Environmental Economics


Posted by Rich Sweeney on October 1, 2008

I’ve been pretty busy lately working on my NSF application and figuring out where I’m going to apply for grad school, so I haven’t been posting much. Now I’m in a rush after the Paul Joskow talk, but I wanted to do a quick brain dump before I forget all this stuff.

I just got back from the Austin City Limits Music Festival, which was amazing. Two CT relevant observations. First, to use a term I normally abhor, ACL was super “green”. As the NYTimes reported, basically no one drove as organizers made it really easy to bus/ walk/ bike but almost impossible to park. On top of that, the festival handed out large plastic bags at the entrance and offered a free ACL t-shirt to anyone who returned the bag filled with cans or plastic bottles. This not only reduced the cost of hired help and solved the problem of trash on the ground at a 3 day festival, it also promoted the general idea of recycling. It became completely acceptable to walk around with a huge bag of trash, and the whole venue was kept remarkably clean at all points in time. Obviously this is the ideal setting for such a promotion, but you’ve got to think this type of passive encouragement can be applied in other settings.

The other thing that happened to me was slightly less uplifting. Walking into a bar on sixth street on Saturday night, I handed a big surly Texas bouncer my DC drivers license. He took one quick look and then busted out “You’re from DC? Congratulations! Now you can own a handgun.”  Thanks Scalia.

In solar news, I have two belated pointers. The first is an article announcing Southern California Edison’s ambitious new solar rooftop program. If successfully implemented SCE will install 250 MW of distributed pv on homes across urban SoCal. This is truly a win-win situation, as participating homeowners get credits off their monthly bill and the utility meets its renewables requirement without having to invest in costly transmission. Ironically, while SCE is plopping down pv in prime real estate, PG&E is having a hard time putting grid scale solar in the middle of the dessert. NYTimes reports that there has been increasing resistance to desert solar projects from the environmental community. Much like the opposition to green transmission expansion, I really don’t have much sympathy for the concerns voiced here. If comes down to either reducing carbon emissions or saving the Mojave ground squirrel, I say the rodent gets it.

Finally, I got an email for this today:

Not really sure what a “touch tank” is or why it was sent to me, but I really hope RFF will buy us one.

2 Responses to “Randomish”

  1. John Whitehead said

    You overlooked the most important thing: How was the ACL festival and who did you see?

  2. John said

    Yeah, who wants a PV in the middle of their “dessert” anyway?

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