Tag Archives: environment

Auto Makers ‘Kill Two Birds with One Stone’

Thesis: Auto makers should get government credit for autonomous cars leading to reduced emissions.

Large auto makers are teaming up to try and persuade the government to give them credit for the cleaner environment and fuel efficiency that autonomous cars will create. This credit will be to count towards the corporate average fuel economy requirements that the government is forcing upon auto makers to try and reduce carbon emissions. These auto makers remain a long ways away from the stringent requirements that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency set to be reached by 2025. As Tom Krisher wrote in his article, Fuel Efficiency Standards, “The rules mean that all new vehicles would have to get an average of 54.5 miles per gallon [by 2025]… The requirements will be phased in gradually between now and then, and automakers could be fined if they don’t comply.” As Mike Spector wrote in the Wall Street Journal in his article, Self Braking Cars Are Safer, but Do They Boost MPG?, “Through the first two months of 2015, the average fuel economy of new light vehicles sold is just 25.2 mpg.” This means that these auto makers will have to more than double the current mpg standards in just ten years. This seems like a far fetched goal, which is why auto makers are fighting for these credits on autonomous cars.

Auto makers are arguing that “as safety features like automatic braking and adaptive cruise control become more widely available, traffic accidents are expected to fall. Fewer accidents will lead to less congestion and better traffic flow—factors that, when combined with speed management, could cut vehicle emissions by as much as 30%.” These improvements in the safety of driving cars will in turn lead to reduced emissions, which is why car companies should get credit. The entire purpose of the Obama administration’s decision to impose such strict measures was to reduce emissions, which will occur through these autonomous cars. While it may be a different, non-direct, route to reduced emissions, it is one that has many societal benefits. Not only will these autonomous cars reduce emissions, they will save lives! The government should encourage auto makers to make as much autonomous as possible to both reduce emissions and make cars much safer to drive. The government can should be doing all it can to encourage these auto makers to develop as many autonomous safety features as possible to achieve both ideal goals. The biggest argument against giving these auto makers these credits is that the government “contend auto makers are simply trying to get around meeting tougher mileage targets. They point out the auto industry has met requirements in previous years and shouldn’t get extra credit on fuel economy for making vehicles safer.” This viewpoint is confusing the underlying purpose of the regulations. As Tom Krisher wrote, “the regulations, will change the cars and trucks sold in U.S. showrooms, with the goal of slashing greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption.” Autonomous cars increasing safety leads to decreased traffic congestion are accomplishing the underlying purpose of these regulations. This is why the government should start giving credit to automakers for these contributions autonomous cars are making for society.

Revised Post 2: Hotter Weather, Lower Labor Productivity

Feb 25th 2015




The research paper written by Tatyana Deryugina and Solomon M. Hsiang that I mentioned above is about the environmental effect on the economy. More specifically, it reveals the relationship between the income and daily temperature. Two authors tested the United States as a model and found that the single environmental parameter continues to play a large role in overall economic performance. The paper concludes that when each 1.8 °F increases in daily average temperature above 59°F, roughly 1.7% productivity declines. It sounds not a big deal, but when we apply those estimates to the whole U.S. economy (assume that their estimates are correct), warmer daily temperatures can lower annual growth by 0.06 – 0.16 percentage hotpoints. A South Carolina police department arrested Elsa (from Frozen) for the unusual coldness in this winter while a Kentucky police department issued a warrant for Elsa’s arrest. Those events are related to the cold weather and reflected that people are irritated by its coldness. Many people agree with the idea that cold weather (especially when it has snow) causes lower productivity as well as traffic jams, however a new research paper refutes the argument. According to Wall Street Journal, “A working paper from the National Bureau for Economic Research suggests that hot days can hurt productivity by more than $20 per person per day, and offers a look at what climate change will mean for long-term economic growth.” Researchers also did look at the effect of cold weather, but they only could find a little productivity dip for moderate coldness, which was not consistent enough to make a claim. Some people disagree with that statement from my previous blog post; they argue that “stoppage of public transportation” can be a counter example, saying that cold weather should affect on the productivity. However, when you generate the regression model, you do not particularly put “one incident” into the model. What researchers did is figuring out the relationship between the temperature and the outcome (or productivity). So, traffic jams or delays of transportation are not significant in their research, which is surprising.

People know that global warming is an international issue, but this research shows the whole new spectrum, emphasizing the severity of hotter weather. People become more aware of that there would be some direct “environmental” effects on the economy. Besides natural disasters, many people do not link the global warming to the economic damages, but now it’s time to rethink about the relationship.  From the environmental economy course, I learned that economists calculate the price of the environment before they set any policy which can affect on the Earth. In other words, when the government should decide whether it allows a new factory construction, officials must compare the benefits from preserving the environment and the benefits from the construction. Also, there could be some negotiations between two groups, paying some amount of compensations based on the calculation.



Still, measuring the environmental benefits is controversial because it could be subjective. However, the research about the relationship between the daily temperature and labor productivity sheds light on the importance of environmental impact as well as possibility of objective measurements for the environment. I hope that the research helps to change people’s recognition about the environmental protection and finally understand that the environment is closely related to the economy.