Environmental Economics

University of Wisconsin at Madison
Madison, Wisconsin

Instructor: Bishop, Richard
Subject area: Economics
Department: Economics
Course number: 343
Year taught: 1998
Level: Undergraduate

Please note that the copyright for this syllabus is retained by the instructor.

This course will survey economic thinking on environmental issues. A wide range of topics will be considered, including economic approaches to pollution control; the extent to which environmental regulations impede production of conventional goods and services; water markets; valuation of environmental resources; natural resource damage assessment; global warming; loss of biodiversity; environmental issues in developing countries; and sustainability. The course will seek to introduce students to the insights that economics can provide and to make them aware of the pitfalls of economic approaches.

Prerequisite: Introductory Microeconomics (Econ 101 or equivalent) or consent of the instructor.

Course Readings: The text will be Barry C. Field, Environmental Economics: An Introduction, Second Edition, New York and elsewhere: McGraw-Hill, 1997. In addition, a few readings will be available in a supplemental reading packet.

Grading: Each student will be required to pay Professor Bishop one visit during office hours (25 points) and to send him one e-mail message (25 points). The goal is to get to know each other better. Students can choose whatever topics they wish for the visit and the e-mail message. What do you want from the course? How is it going so far? What specific questions do you have about the material? How can we make the course better? What would you like to know about environmental economics that has not been covered so far? Can I help you think through your career plans? What sorts of careers are available for environmental economists? What other courses can you take to strengthen your background in economics or environmental policy? (Don't neglect this part of the course. It will count as much as if you aced a big essay question on one of the exams and all you have to do is talk to me. 50 points could easily mean half a letter grade difference (like AB rather than B).) There will be two mid-term exams, worth 100 points each, and a comprehensive final, worth 200 points. All or most of the questions will involve short written answers and essays. No term paper or written homework assignments will be required.

Date Course Schedule and Reading Assignments
Jan. 21 Introduction, Chapter 1; Application: Failed Attempt to Control Automobile Emissions in Mexico City. (Lecture 1)

Jan. 26
The Economy and the Environment, Chapter 2; Application: Tradeoffs Between Economy and Environment in the U.S. (Lecture 2)

Jan. 28
Concepts and Tools, Chapter 3; Application: Tropical Forest Protection in Madagascar. (Lecture 3)

Feb. 2
More Concepts . . .; Economic Efficiency and Markets, Chapters 3 & 4; Application: Valuation of Great Lakes Commercial Catches of Whitefish and Yellow Perch. (Lecture 4)

Feb. 5
Economic Efficiency and Markets (cont.), Chapter 4; Application: Water Markets. (Lecture 5)

Feb. 9
Principles of Pollution Control, Chapter 5; Application: Experiencing a Real Externality. (Lecture 6)

Feb. 11
Principles . . . (cont.), Chapter 5; Application: Oysters and Lobsters under Open Access. (Lecture 7)

Feb. 16
Approaches to Economic Analysis of Environmental Decisions, Chapter 6. Application: Lake Mendota Valuation Survey. (Lecture 8.)

Feb. 18
Approaches . . . (cont.), Chapter 6. Application: Did Greg Alstodt really win $1 million? (Lecture 9)

Feb. 23
Evaluating Increases and Decreases in Environmental Benefits, Chapter 7. Application: Results of the Lake Mendota Survey. (Lecture 10)

Feb. 25
Damage Assessment: Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Film, review text, pp. 114-115, 155-156. Read Carson et al. from readings packet. (Lecture 11)

March 2
Catch-up and review.
March 4 First Exam.
March 9 Spring Break.
March 11 Spring Break.
March 16 Evaluating Costs of Environmental Interventions (cont.), Chapter 8; Application: Glen Canyon Dam and the Grand Canyon (Read paper by Bishop and Welsh in your readings packet). (Lecture 12)

March 18
Pollution Control Policy, Chapters 9 and 10. Application: More on Grand Canyon. (Lecture 13)

March 23
Command-and-Control (CAC) Approaches, Chapters 11 and 14; Application: Technology-based water quality standards in the US. (Lecture 14)

March 25
Incentive-Based Strategies, Chapters 12 and 13. (Lecture 15)

March 30
Applications: Selected additional topics in pollution control, Chapters 15-18. (Lecture 16)

April 1
Application: The Proposed Exxon Mine in Northern Wisconsin, read material in readings packet. (Lecture 17)

April 6
Catch-up and review.
April 8 Second Exam.
April 13 Environmental Issues in Developing Countries, Chapter 19; Application: Population Policy. (Lecture 18)

April 15
Global Environmental Issues, Chapters 20 and 21; Application: Ozone depletion. (Lecture 19)

April 20
Application: Global Warming, read article by Nordhaus in readings packet. (Lecture 20)

April 22
Application: Biodiversity, read Randall paper that will be handed out in class and Davis paper from readings packet. (Lecture 21)

April 27
Future prospects, read Kahn, Chapter 18 from readings packet; Application: The Dangers of Projecting the Future. (Lecture 22)

April 29
Sustainability and Economics, read Bishop and Woodward from readings packet. (Note: Figure 1, which plays a big role in what we will discuss from this reading, does not appear in the text, but rather at the very end of the paper.) (Lecture 23)

May 4
Sustainability . . . (cont.). (Lecture 24)
May 6 Review