Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Recession Cleaned The Air, Another Example Of How Life Is Full Of Tradeoffs

One of the first things I teach each semester is how there is no free lunch. If you want more of one thing you have to give up something else. This is usually when I talk about scarcity, opportunity cost and the production possibilities frontier.

The recession has been painful for many people. But the air is probably cleaner than it otherwise would have been. See Recession Special: Cleaner Air from last Sunday's NY Times. Here are some excerpts:

"emissions of global warming gases in the United States are down.

According to the Energy Department, carbon dioxide emissions peaked in this country in 2005 and will not reach that level again until the early 2020s."

"“The recession has led to a smaller economy, less activity and less energy consumption,” said Revis W. James, director of the Energy Technology Assessment Center at the Electric Power Research Institute, a utility consortium.

Electricity consumption had been growing at a rate of 1 percent to 1.5 percent a year, but the recession brought on the steepest drop in decades. When demand fell, the utilities cut back on the use of their least-efficient generating stations, the ones that emit the highest amounts of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour."

No comments: