Issues in Environmental Economics/ Benefit-Cost Analysis Project
There are literally thousands of local, national, or global projects or policies that you could analyze using the tools of environmental economics. Pick one that interests you! It does not matter whether your project passes a benefit-cost analysis, or whether you make a case “for” or “against” the environment. Your goal is simply to persuade the class that your analysis is correct. In doing so, you will demonstrate to me your understanding of benefit-cost analysis, as discussed in class and described in Chapters 5 and 6. Once you pick a topic you need to do some research. Do Goodstein and Polasky address similar topics in the text? Are there careful analyses online? What are the major inputs and outputs of your project? How can you place dollar values on these, using the tools of benefit-cost analysis? By September 30th, post a 500-to-1,000-word analysis on Canvas. Your essay should do the following:
a) Make clear thesis related to an environmental issue, such as “The US should implement a cap-and-dividend plan to reduce carbon emissions” or “Fort Collins should build a bike underpass under X street” or “Larimer County should lift its moratorium on natural gas fracking”.
b) Demonstrating the importance of your particular issue, and explain how economic theory informs your argument.
c) Defend your thesis using benefit-cost analysis. You should use at least 2 of the techniques described in the book to estimate the (dollar) value of an environmental cost or benefit. Note that 500-1,000 words are not enough space to defend your thesis in great detail, so you should focus on the most important components of the issue. If necessary, you can cut corners by pretending that you conducted a hedonic regression or contingent valuation survey, but choose values that seem realistic to you (perhaps based on other research) and explain why the method you “use” is appropriate.
d) Cite relevant findings from other research. Remember you can always borrow other people’s ideas, as long as you give them credit.
e) Present your analysis clearly. A summary benefit-cost table is almost always illuminating.
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