Category: Essentials of Economics 8e

The world of ‘carbon offsetting’ has suddenly become trendy. With bands like Coldplay and the Rolling Stones making their tours ‘carbon neutral’ and government ministers offsetting all the environmental cost of their overseas travel, the industry has hit the limelight. Even Tony Blair, under pressure over his personal holidays has relented and agreed that he will offset all his personal travel. However, up to now the industry has been unregulated and standards have been uncertain. Defra has now set new standards for the industry to comply with and the articles below consider the impact of this regulation.

Questions

1. Using diagrams as appropriate, explain how carbon offsetting is intended to reduce the environmental impact of plane travel.
2. Discuss the effectiveness of carbon offsetting as an approach to reducing the impact of increasing plane travel.
3. Suggest one demand-side and one supply-side policy to reduce the carbon emissions resulting from air travel and assess their relative effectiveness.

January 2007 saw unseasonably cold weather in California and the big freeze that occurred may have destroyed up to 70% of the Californian orange crop. Prices as a result of oranges are likely to treble in US shops. The impact on prices elsewhere in the world may be less, but is still likely to be significant as California is an important area in global terms. Oddly the price of orange juice is unlikely to be affected as very few of the Californian oranges go for turning into juice. The majority of oranges for juice are grown in Florida.

Big freeze sours US orange crops BBC News Online (17/1/07)

Questions

1. Using supply and demand diagrams as appropriate, explain the impact of the freezing weather in California on the world price of oranges.
2. Using supply and demand diagrams as appropriate, compare and contrast (a) the change in the price of oranges and orange juice and (b) the change in the price of oranges in the USA and the rest of the world..
3. Examine the likely impact of the cold weather in California on prices of other foods.

In developing countries the growth of urbanisation is causing some worrying social, environmental and health problems. As the introduction to the article below puts it:

“UN figures for urbanisation, published this week in the State of the World 2007 report, show that more than 60 million people – roughly the population of the UK – are added to the planet’s cities and suburbs each year, mostly in low-income urban settlements in developing countries. Unplanned urbanisation is taking a huge toll on human health and the quality of the environment, contributing to social, ecological, and economic instability in many countries.”

Streets ahead Guardian (17/1/07)

Questions

1. Assess the impact of the growth of urbanisation on the rate of development in developing countries.
2. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of growing urbanisation to a developing country.
3. Assess the role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in helping to minimise the negative consequences of urbanisation.

In a new book, Will Hutton, the editor of the Observer and well-known economic commentator, has argued that we have overstated the economic threat from China. He argues that their economic model is flawed and that extensive corruption in the system is distorting economic growth in the country. The article below from the Guardian is an edited extract from his new book that considers many of these issues.

Power, corruption and lies Guardian (8/1/07)

Questions

1. “….. the transition from communism remains fundamentally problematic”. Discuss the extent to which these problems are likely to affect the pace of development in China.
2. Explain what Will Hutton means by ‘Leninist corporatism’. Why does he believe this to be a problem for China?
3. Assess the likely impact of corruption in China on long-term development and the rate of economic growth.

In the Guardian article linked to below, Ashley Seager argues that the only way to reduce the extent of social exclusion is to tax the main asset of a large proportion of the population; their house. He argues that the massive increases in land values that have taken place with rising house prices have increased divisions in society and that a land tax is required to address this. It may be interesting to consider this issue along with News Item 4 about global wealth distribution.

A land tax is 200 years overdue Guardian (8/1/07)

Questions

1. Explain what is meant by a land tax and suggest different ways that this could be levied.
2. Discuss the likely impact of a land tax, as proposed by Ashley Seager, on the major economic targets.
3. Analyse possible alternative policies to reduce the levels of exclusion in UK society.