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EconDebates Online

EconDebates Online keeps you informed on today's most crucial economics policy debates. Each EconDebate, created by John Kane (SUNY-Oswego), provides a primer on the issues and links to background information and current, in-depth commentaries from experts around the world. Review the brief introductions and, for EconDebates of interest, select the full debate.

Economics and the Environment



Does international trade harm the environment?

Full Debate

The volume of international trade has increased dramatically over the past 20 years. Much of this increase has been the result of international agreements that have reduced trade barriers. Economists have generally argued that free international trade benefits all participants by allowing countries to acquire goods and services at a lower opportunity cost. In recent years, however, there have been increasing concerns over the effect of international trade on the global environment. Protests over environmental issues have disrupted recent meetings of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Has Deregulation Caused the Energy Shortage in California?

Full Debate

California began experiencing a serious energy shortage in the summer of 2000. Power blackouts became relatively frequent in many areas of the state. These problems appeared to have begun with the deregulation of the electrical power industry in California. Are these problems the result of deregulation? Or are they the result of regulations that result in inefficient outcomes? This question is of particular importance since many other states are in the process of following California's path to deregulation.

Should anti-pollution standards be strengthened?

Full Debate 

Nearly everyone agrees that pollution is undesirable (the only likely exceptions are those individuals whose income depends on the provision of pollution abatement services). It is socially optimal, however, that some level of pollution be tolerated. The reason, of course, is that there is an opportunity cost associated with pollution abatement. A cleaner environment requires higher production costs and a lower level of output.

Does the U.S. economy benefit from the WTO?

Full Debate 

One of the basic issues at the heart of the WTO controversy is whether free international trade benefits or harms the U.S. economy. This issue is already examined in an online debate on "foreign trade." The focus of the current debate is on the more narrow topic of whether our participation in the WTO benefits the U.S. economy.

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