The environmental issue that my research will focus on is the continued use of fossil fuels as the primary energy source by our global economy: regardless of the proven adverse impacts, from our reliance on these nonrenewable resources; and in consideration of the circumstances regarding the existence of viable alternative sources of energy, given the application of equivalent technologies applied to their systems of conversion.
The focus of this paper is not to identify evidence of the negative impacts realized because of fossil fuel use, in order to prove these problems are in fact produced. Confirmation has been granted through several other research projects, in regards to those problems and aspects included within the scope of this research project. As for those problems or related aspects excluded in the scope of this project, debate does exists; along with there being variations present in the range of impacts believed to be associated with fossil fuel use.
That is, the limits of my research were configured according to the impacts that are evident regardless of opposing viewpoints and variations in perspective. The study will not include research that supports that viable alternative, renewable energy sources are available either. This would be redundant as well considering the practical applications in use throughout the world, diverting any debate that may exist to the alternative sources in theory.
Specifically, the three main impacts that define the environmental issue of my focus include: the economic and social instability that exists in our global economy from the highly centralized energy sector and the nonrenewable quality of these resources; the contributions to the deterioration of the sustainability of our environment; the negatively effects on human health produced from the illusion created.
The focal point of the project, as these impacts apply with a consensus they are evident, will be to research and identify the reasons that go behind why fossil fuels have continued to remain as the primary energy source, despite these corresponding impacts. Also foundational to the focus of the issue being studied, is their continued use not only in the light of the problems they cause; but also in the light of existing substitutes that are viable, given the application of equivalent technologies applied to their systems of conversion.
Fundamental to the study will be an assessment of he functioning and structure of the corresponding economic system. For one, this is the broader social system in which energy as a vital resource applies. Also, when considering the capitalistic nature of the market economy that is marked by specialization and trade an all-encompassing, interdependence exists. The government and the political structure will also be considered as they apply to institutions Of social control.
Any other social systems found to possess the structure or political power to exert control at the “community level” will also be included within the analysis because this inverts into the ability to influence the causes and outcomes of the environmental issue of concern. Research Results “The American Civil War (1861-?1865) made it possible for men of varying degrees of ability to become wealthy overnight. During the postwar decades these new fortunes were used for the exploitation of natural resources and for industrial development.
Men such as Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) and John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937) became folk heroes, although in Rockefeller case, there were also many who feared and despised him. Few laws regulated competition and few taxes were levied on their profits. In time some of these men exerted considerable influence on their state legislatures and on their senators. Even the philosophy of the age was tailored to their needs. Social Darwinism applied the biological concept of survival of the fittest to human society and decreed the successful businessman the fittest of all.
Eventually, the Progressive movement confronted some of the more unsanitary practices of the business elite and the corrupt politics of the time. The first faint indication that a change in conditions might be close at hand came in 1887 with the passage of the Interstate Commerce Act followed a few years later by he Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890. Even in a period when business predominated there were certain activities that alarmed the public. The financial manipulations of Rockefeller, for example, indirectly affected the lives of millions who came to fear his company while admiring his personal life.
Rockefeller Standard Oil Company was the first trust or monopoly. It effectively controlled the petroleum refining industry by 1879. Other large combinations followed suit, so that by 1 890 large companies controlled the production of such products as whiskey, sugar, and lead, and dominated the nation’s railroads. The combinations used their size to exploit markets to the fullest. Pressure mounted for the federal government to take action since individual states were powerless in dealing with the trusts and monopolies which were interstate in scope.
The result was the passage of the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890. However, the Sherman Antitrust Act had major deficiencies that became evident at the turn of the century. One major problem was that the act did not define what a trust or monopoly was and the lack of such a definition left the interpretation of the law up to the judicial branch of the government. Moreover violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act was only considered a misdemeanors. With the accession of Theodore Roosevelt (1 933-?1945) into the presidency the antitrust movement gained momentum.
Early in his presidency Roosevelt realized that the monopoly situation had reached a critical point and that something had to be done. Roosevelt believed it was important to distinguish between good trusts and bad trusts: “good trusts” benefited the public with their infusion of capital and products into the economy; “bad trusts” consisted Of greedy financiers interested only in profits at the general publics expense. Between 1890 and 905 the Department of Justice brought 24 antitrust suits while the Roosevelt administration brought suit against 54 companies.
The administration of President William Howard Taft (1909-1913) later prosecuted 90 antitrust cases. Despite many successful prosecutions during his administration Roosevelt realized that the trust problem would not be resolved by judicial review and that a more organized approach was needed. To regulate business Roosevelt specifically advocated a commission similar to the Interstate Commerce Commission, one that had jurisdiction over all businesses engaging in interstate commerce, not just railroads. Big business interpreted this additional governmental regulation as borderline socialism and in response argued for laissez-fairer policies.
Realizing that big business would invoke any means necessary to avoid regulation, Roosevelt maintained that his idea was not meant to “strangle” business but only regulate trusts, and that legitimate businesses need not be concerned. In 1 914, Congress passed and President Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) signed the Clayton Antitrust Act which was designed to strengthen the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 by fully codifying specific illegal antitrust activities. To carry out and enforce the Clayton Act and the Sherman Act, Congress created the Federal Trade Commission in a related measure.
The large corporations did not suffer as much from regulation as might be thought. In many ways, the regulatory authority that the government imposed on business made it more difficult for new companies to break into competition with the big companies. Thus, the main thing that they feared and that they formed monopolies to avoid-?”ruinous competition”-?was killed in its crib by the very regulation that was passed to put a collar on the monopolies. Some economic historians intend that the Clayton Act actually promoted economic concentration.
The Clayton Act clarified illegal actions, thereby helping to eliminate some monopolistic activities, but in so doing it allowed business combinations and trusts to engage in collusive activities not specifically prohibited. By codifying illegal behavior, some historians believe that Congress tacitly sanctioned other collusive activities designed to reduce chaotic competition and ensure stability. Many historians have contended that although the antitrust movement reached a natural decline, World War I (1914-1918) further undermined it.
War manipulation required coordinated efforts from the leaders of many industries. Economic concentration and collusive efforts were necessary and accepted for the war effort. Large corporations such as General Motors and the Du Pont Chemical Company grew much larger just immediately after the Clayton Act and especially during the war effort. In 1938, Congress created the Temporary National Economic Committee to hold hearings on the issue of antitrust. Attorney General Thurman Arnold reinvigorated federal antitrust prosecution.
Arnold brought a number of antitrust suits. Like the earlier antitrust effort Of the Progressive Era, this aiming lost its strength and direction as a result of foreign policy concerns and economic manipulation for a war effort. There were some important antitrust cases after World War II (1939-?1945) as well. In In 1948 the federal government forced a number of large U. S. Companies to divest themselves. In 1950 the Cellar-Seafarer Act extended the Clayton Act by tightening prohibitions on business mergers that lessen competition and lead to monopoly.
In 1 976 Congress passed the Hart-Scott-Roding Act or Concentrated Industries Act. This was a mild reform law that attempted to strengthen provisions of existing antitrust laws. Monopolistic behavior clearly remained a factor of U. S. Economic life while federal prosecution of anti- competitive mergers and acquisitions became rare. ” Deregulation: Contemporary Economic History In the 1 sass Presidents Gerald Ford (1974-1977) and Jimmy Carter (1977-?1 981 ) responded by initiating a policy of deregulation, which was an effort to minimize government intervention in the market economy.
While the initial efforts of deregulation were applied to government’s relations with businesses, the logic of deregulation extended to government intervention in the economic lives of individual citizens. Presidents Ronald Reagan (1981-?1 989), George Bush (1 989-?1993), and Bill Clinton (1993-?) all sought to diminish the influence of the federal government over the economy. The result has been a public policy designed to permit every business and every citizen to succeed or fail without government intervention.
A reassessment of the definition of monopoly has been key to this process of deregulation. Presidential administrations began to tolerate consolidations in industry. Congress abandoned the assumption that monopolies are only safe when they are regulated as a public utility. The federal courts became reluctant to interfere with market forces. The result has been a revolution in economic competition. The elements involved in reconstructing the relationship between government and business came together in the antitrust prosecution of American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T).
Since the AT&T decision other public service monopolies, most notably in the electrical generating industry, have been forced into open competition. While breaking down public utility monopolies, the government became more tolerant of corporate consolidation. As a result corporate mergers in industries as varied s banking and oil refining have constructed business enterprises of a power and efficiency not seen in America since the nineteenth century. A small, regional bank in North Carolina (National Bank of North Carolina) was unchallenged in its transformation into the fifth largest bank in the United States (First union).
The unification of Mobil and Exxon resulted in a coordination of production that rivaled Standard Oil Corporation before Tuft’s (1909-?1913) administration’s antitrust prosecutions. This acceptance of large scale corporations has been accompanied by a consistent policy of deregulation Of industry. New Deal regulatory policies, which guaranteed reasonable corporate profits in exchange for an end to destructive competition, fell under attack and disappeared within a generation. The restrictions of the Glass-Steal Act (1933), which were designed to promote banking stability and prevent the concentration of capital, were abandoned.
Limits on interest rates, mergers, and establishment of new branches were eliminated. Successful American banks became better capitalized and could provide customers with a wider range of services; unsuccessful banks disappeared, with some spectacular collapses in the savings and loan industry. The airline industry, once protected by a Federal Aviation Administration was thrown open to competition with the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978. Air fares, fell new airlines emerged and the service to major airports expanded while scheduling delays increased, airlines went bankrupt, and service to small cities diminished.
This pattern of deregulation extended to agricultural production. Like the banking and airline industries, agriculture had benefited from the New Deal policy of guaranteeing profitability in exchange for limits on competition. The federal price support mechanisms of he Department of Agriculture limited the production of key commodities and prevented food processing industries from also owning farms. The Freedom to Farm Act of 1996 eliminated those restrictions in an effort to lower federal subsidies and promote greater efficiency on American farms.
Deregulation and the reassessment of monopolies were designed to improve efficiency. As industries were forced into higher levels of competition, they had to become more productive. Improvements in productivity could be achieved by either introduction of new technology or a more effective use of labor. However, as corporations were adjusting to this new climate of regulation, they were suddenly hit by the disruptive impact of the embargo by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). During the 1 9705 OPEC raised the price of crude oil, more than doubling the average price of energy in the United States.
Corporations were forced to spend more money on energy, leaving less for the purchase of new technology. Not only did the OPEC price shocks damage the patterns of corporate investment, they illuminated important weaknesses in the American economy. Businessmen in Germany ND Japan adopted computer and robotics technology in the asses and early asses. And by the mid-asses American factory managers realized they needed to catch up, but were reluctant to modernize when rising energy costs had depleted their profit margins. The adoption of new technology made American corporations more effective competitors in the world economy.
Without federal curbs on the formation of monopolies, corporations could absorb rivals and divest unprofitable subsidiaries. These more powerful corporations sought to enlarge their operations in foreign markets. To support these corporate efforts, the United States government negotiated to eliminate tariff barriers. The most successful of these negotiations resulted in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NONFAT), which was designed to stimulate commerce among the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The experience of American corporations had important ramifications for the American labor force.
During the 1 sass American business increased its use of part-?time and temporary workers. This trend was particularly profitable for employers; wage costs could be lowered, and, in addition, benefits such as health insurance and pension plans could be dropped. The increasing reliance on part-time and temporary workers continued into the Reagan-Bush years. This pattern held important implications for worker-management relations. The adoption of new technologies during the Reagan-Bush era reduced the number of employees needed in manufacturing and continued this process of moving workers away from unionized shop floors.
The American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (FALL-CIO) called for prudence and cooperation with management for the protection of jobs, but increasing numbers of workers participated in spontaneous strikes to protest the adoption of new genealogies or proposals to utilize part-time or contract workers. Because they did not have the full support of the national union leadership, these job actions had limited Success. This weakness of labor authority in the workplace was magnified by changes in federal policy toward labor.
The National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency that supervises management-worker relations, became more sympathetic to business concerns. During the Reagan presidency this skepticism toward labor interests solidified, as demonstrated by the federal intervention against striking air traffic controllers in 1981. Without strong labor unions to defend worker interests, market forces became the predominant factor in setting wage rates and working conditions. An important divide emerged in the American standard of living. The distribution of American wealth concentrated in the hands of fewer people. According to the U.
S. Bureau of the Census, in 1 993 the richest 20 percent of the American population controlled 46. 2 percent of the wealth (as compared to controlling 40. 4 percent in 1967). This gain of wealth among rich families occurred at the expense of the bottom 60 percent of the American population. Higher salaries and the added benefits of annual bonuses and stock options raised incomes for those Americans in the upper 20 percent of the population. These higher rates of earning were augmented by substantial tax cuts in the asses and 1 sass, which permitted the wealthy to retain a larger share of their income.
Geographical patterns of poverty were magnified because the distribution of jobs was not even. During the asses and 1 sass most new jobs were created on the East and West Coasts. In addition, jobs were more likely to be created in suburban areas. Those living in the suburbs of Washington, D. C. Or San Diego found a different set of opportunities than those living in Detroit or rural Wyoming and as federal support for welfare, public health programs, and housing assistance diminished, the poor witnessed a diminishing quality of life.
The push for efficiency and productivity has carried mixed consequences. National chain stores like Walter have provided lower prices to consumers, but have driven out locally based businesses. The introduction of computers and robotics in manufacturing has saved companies from bankruptcy, but has reduced the number of blue-collar jobs. Extraordinary wealth coexists with grotesque poverty. The gross national product of the United States is still the envy of the world, but the landscape of the American economy has completely changed.
Economic Modeling Economic modeling is mathematical and often relies on a standard set of assumptions known as the neoclassical model, which other disciplines do not commonly accept and which is sometimes inimical to the questions they consider. As researchers apply economic analysis to an ever-broader array of human phenomena, including legal problems, economists have come to work with models that relax some of the assumptions of the neoclassical model ND that may borrow insights from the work of other disciplines.
Accordingly, scholars do some of the most interesting work in the economic analysis of law today in the fields of “law and socioeconomics” or “law and behavioral economics. ” Economic analysis has influenced other social sciences as mathematical models and the assumption of individual rational choice have recently entered the work of sociologists and political scientists. Neoclassical Sass motions The neoclassical model has played a particularly important role in economic analysis and the law and economics movement to date.
This model consists of the assumptions that the appropriate unit of analysis is the individual actor or firm, individuals and firms rationally choose among their opportunities according to their preferences to maximize utility or profits, individual preferences are exogenously determined, and information and transaction costs are zero. Economists have a simple but well-defined notion of rationality, assuming that people’s preferences are complete, reflexive, and transitive over all relevant opportunities and that the person always chooses the available opportunity that is most preferred.
Economists commonly refer to the assumption of costless information as “perfect information,” while the assumption of no transaction costs is stated as “zero transaction costs. ” The assumptions of the neoclassical model have established their dominance in the discipline because they produce models that are mathematically tractable and that have proved useful in analyzing simple market phenomena. However, these assumptions are clearly unrealistic and economists commonly try to relax them where they hide important features of the examined problem.
For example, there is an extensive economic literature uncovering the effects of imperfect information and positive transaction costs, illustrated by Oliver Williamson and Scott Master’s two volumes of readings. The neoclassical model also assumes away some questions expressly examined by other disciplines, including whether the individual is the appropriate unit of analysis, what factors are important in the formation of individual preferences or a person’s “colonization,” and what is the exact form or nature of human rationality.
Economists have also sought to relax these neoclassical assumptions where these aspects of human behavior have proved important in explaining the examined phenomena. Influence of Other Social Sciences Recent work in economic analysis has drawn on findings in sociology and behavioral psychology to relax some the traditional assumptions of the neoclassical model and provide new alternative economic analyses of examined problems.
For example, law and economics scholars such as Robert Ellison and Eric Poster have examined the impact of group dynamics on individual decision making by analyzing the development and influence of social norms on a wide array of human behavior. Similarly, Richard Macadam has examined the implications of group status production or the rationality of individual decisions to discriminate and produced a much better analysis of discrimination and the efficacy of nondiscrimination laws than was produced by the traditional neoclassical analysis.
Other economists have drawn On the empirical work of behavioral psychologists Amos Taverns and Daniel Keenan demonstrating that human decision making is not always rational in the economic sense. The latter have shown that human decision making exhibits “bounded rationality,” in that people can only process a limited amount of information and must rely on rules of thumb to help them make decisions. It also shows “bounded willpower,” in that people sometimes do things that are not in their long-term self-interest.
Finally, there is “bounded self-interest,” in that people care about others and whether the treatment people receive is “fair. ” Law and economics scholars have used these insights to analyze the property law doctrine of adverse possession, tort law damages doctrine, consumer protection legislation, and the decision making processes Of judges and juries. Use Of Economic Modeling Like any disciplined form of analysis, economic modeling allows us to separate the important characteristics of a problem from the confusing cacophony of reality.
By separating the most important aspects, and facilitating the application of the logic of mathematics, economic modeling allows us to extend our reasoning ability and draw insights concerning the problem that would otherwise be beyond our grasp. Within the vocabulary of behavioral law and economics, modeling is a rule of thumb that allows us to address the limitations of our own bounded rationality. However, not all models are equally useful rules of thumb for public policy.
If the model assumes away an important feature of the examined problem, the hypotheses or conclusions drawn from the model will be inaccurate and misleading. The art Of economic modeling is to know which assumptions to make to simplify your analysis of the phenomenon but retain the essential features of the problem. The test of the usefulness of an economic model is its relevance to reality through its ability to explain the phenomenon, to act as a catalog of knowledge on the problem, or to yield good predictive results.
Only by reference back to the real world through explanatory power or empirical tests can one establish the value of an economic model in facilitating understanding of a problem. Ecological Economics Economics deals with resource allocation or tradeoffs between competing wants and needs. Economists focus on consumers and the products that meet the needs of those consumers. Furthermore, they are concerned with the time frame and manner in which these goods are produced.
In mainstream, neoclassical economics, economists are usually concerned with the cost to obtain the things human consumers desire and the benefits that will be derived from those products. According to classical economists, the costs of goods and services are determined by the interaction of supply and emend in the marketplace. If the supply of a particular commodity or service is high but the demand is low, the price will be low. If the commodity is scarce but everyone wants it, the price will be high. But high prices also encourage invention of new technology and substitutes that can satisfy the same demands.
The cyclic relationship of scarce resources and development of new technology or new materials, in this view, allows for unlimited growth. And continued economic growth is seen as the best, perhaps the only, solution to poverty and environmental degradation. Ecologists, however, view the world fervently than economists. From their studies of the interactions between organisms and their environment, ecologists see the world as a dynamic, but finite system that can support only a limited number of humans with their demands for goods and set-vices.
Many ecological processes and the nonrenewable natural resources on which the economy is based have no readily available substitutes. Further, much of the natural world is being degraded or depleted at unsustainable rates. Ecologists criticize the narrow focus of conventional economics and its faith in unceasing growth, market ululation, and endless substitutability. Ecologists warn that unless humans changes their patterns of production and consumption to ways that protect natural resources and ecological systems, they will soon deplete these resources.
Research Applications: Solution Criteria A synthesis of the research, comprehensively, concludes that the underlining cause relates to the concept known as civilization cycles and conditions Of a failing society. Society functions as a system and as with any system the components interact with and influence each other through the exchange of energy, matter, or information. My analysis resulted in a focus that involved exploring the effect social interactions and information has had on our current environmental state.
This is because as I dug deeper into the problems surrounding fossil fuel use and our so-called energy crisis. There were many findings that contradicted public beliefs related to the conditions of our energy-crisis; which directly relates to the exchange of “information” as a major system input. Another important connection I made was according to the content within the book “Collapse” , a book written by scientist Diamond, J. He identified the significant role social interaction has on whether or not a civilization fails or succeeds.
This is also consistent with the functioning of our natural systems and its sustainability. After highlighting social interaction my next logical step seemed to be to explore the history of economics. Economics is the study of how people decide to use and allocate scarce resources so by definition environmental problems are also economic problems. Found that as our society went through the development, according to the conditions of population growth and the need to allocate the use of limited resources a yester as a social structure was formulated.
Besides the nurture aspects involved I found the natural conditions of introspecting competitions to me significantly related; as this relates to the socially manipulated circumstances of political dominance. When these classifications are made the appropriate approach can be taken: as the circumstances are understood to be inherent the approach will avoid assuming some level of control is possible accordingly; and will conversely implement tactics that accommodate these conditions while focusing control efforts on the circumstances of the system that are changeable.
For example the natural condition of limited resources inherently leads to introspecting competition and therefore should not be the focus of adaptation efforts in order to achieve more sustainable conditions. However, a solution that aims to resolve issues of political dominations would be viable given the ability to manipulate and change. Also concluded through the establishment of social institutions these political positions have been sustained. Therefore, the approach taken must first attack the sustainability of these social structures in place, before another one can be established.