tidbits #7

  • A journal ranking for environmental economics seen at env-econ.net and initiated by John Bergstrom: 1) JEEM; 2) JAERE; 3) Environ and Res Econ (ERE); 4) Land Econ; 5) AJAE and 6) Ecol Econ. I think it depends on what one is mostly interested in. For mostly theory, definitely JEEM and JAERE; For empirics and wider intuitions, certainly ERE and Ecol Econ; for more agricultural research, Land Econ and AJAE, though both journals have the odd paper out on e.g. discounting (Land Econ), or labelling (AJAE). I think I mostly read papers from JEEM, now also JAERE, Ecol Econ, and ERE/Land Econ/AJAE in approx. equal share. I read very little from the other journals, mostly due to time constraints, though the Review of Environmental Economics & Policy has many good general papers with thorough intuitions.
  • An announcement for an interesting conference/debate in Paris at SciencePo for 21 May, from 5pm. The topic is Climate and Economics, and the speakers are Agnar Sandmo (Professor of Public Economics, Norwegian School of Economics), Martin Wolf (Chief Economics Commentator, Financial Times), and Alain Juppé (Mayor of Bordeaux and former Prime Minister of France) will introduce and moderate the presentations and debates. This is part of a series of conferences on similar topics. Agnar Sandmo is definitely one of the main researchers on public economics, public goods, externalities, and well-suited to present a discussion on climate and economics. Registration is free but mandatory, please follow this LINK.
  • There is more and more evidence that reducing pesticides may increase crop yields. PredatorTake a look at this article in The Conservation. Though seemingly counter-intuitive, this is achieved through integrated pest management. What is that? Basically, farmers follow a kind of predatory-prey model, where they use predators to fight off those preys that are harmful for their crops. Done well, this may reduce pesticide use significantly. For example, a recent article finds that on average yields increased by 41% over 1-5 years after the implementation of integrated pest control, while pesticides were reduced by 69%.
    This, in general, obviously is good news. But what are the costs? I remember having seen various studies that investigated the benefits and costs of integrated pest control. Basically, famers need to monitor much more carefully when e.g. the insects that eat their crops hatch in order to fight them off at the right moment with the right predator. If they are too late, the prey wins, if they are too early, the predators don’t manage to subdue their prey because they starve. Also, it is difficult to assess just how many predators need to be set lose because it is difficult to estimate the number of prey/pests. And their can obviously be other side-effects from the predators if they do not only attack the pest but also other useful animals in the area.
    But then again, we have quite a bit of knowledge on the mechanisms underlying this, what we need are bigger experiments, government funded, that provide this information for the farmers so that the farmers do not lose let’s say a harvest because they need to experiment with the predators before they can actually know how to perfectly use them.
    Another case for government intervention can also be made on the grounds that the use of pesticides induces externalities in terms of pesticides run-off into rivers, lakes, groundwater, etc. Furthermore, pesticides may harm the consumer, which again may be in the interest of governments to address. While this is done via regulation (how much and what can be sprayed with pesticides), there are many arguments that can be forwarded for government intervention more in the form of integrated pest control than in the form of regulating the use of pesticides only.
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