Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Debating Measures to Confront Environmental Problems

From the WSJ's Real Time Economics blog:

For the environmental problems facing the world, many economists believe the ultimate solution will be the establishment of effective markets that will charge people enough to get them to behave differently. But economist Jeff Sachs, who directs Columbia University’s Earth Institute, thinks that price alone isn’t enough. We caught up with him on what other types of other measures are necessary.

WSJ: Many economists believe that the key to reducing carbon emissions and conserving vital resources like water is the establishment of pricing frameworks that force people to bear the cost of what they’re doing. You’re skeptical that pricing can be a cure-all. Why is that?

Sachs: Pricing plays a roll. Certainly with carbon emissions we need a price. But it’s almost never enough when we’re talking about really big technological changes. When you think of the computer industry and its roots in defense, when you think of the Internet with its root in defense and the National Science Foundation, when you think about drug development and the crucial role of the National Institutes of Health – one major industry after another has always relied, and needed to rely, on a mix of public and private actions.>>>MORE