The Economic Case Against Lowering Your Carbon Footprint

by William Yeatman on September 17, 2007

in Blog

There is no shortage of ways to reduce our carbon footprint. I could teach my economics courses in the dark, forbid anyone to bring in a bottle of water, scale down the heat in winter and have everyone wear coats (and turn off the air conditioning on hot, muggy May days), force my 150 students to share one copy of the text to save trees, give only oral examinations to cut down on the use of paper, not answer e-mail from my students to minimize the electrical drain, be more like the French (or some of my colleagues) and not shower daily nor put on clean underwear. But I like to think of economics, and teaching my courses, in terms of tradeoffs—convenience, practicalities, comfort, being "fuelish"—and the marginal costs versus marginal benefits and reasonable alternative, as opposed to simply minimizing the energy bill.

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