Today’s Iowa Learning Farms webinar featured Kevin Meyer, PhD candidate in economics at Iowa State University. Meyer provided an economists approach to managing pollution by taking a closer look at the costs and benefits of pollution.
Building a foundation of understanding the impacts of externalities and how they can impact public goods like air or water can help address the first question Meyer poses – why do problems with pollution occur?
We often consider the costs associated with pollution such as damages to recreational water bodies or health concerns. However, there are also benefits associated with the pollution though the goods and services produced in the process. Where these intersect on the graph below from Kevin’s presentation implies an economic optimum level of pollution that can be achieved when costs = benefits.
Although simple in appearance, the diagram also illustrates the complexities of managing pollution. How can we accurately measure or quantify the costs and benefits? The measurements become more difficult when addressing non-point source pollution, like sediment or nutrients from agricultural land, where it can be difficult to pinpoint where the pollution is coming from.
Check out the archived webinar today as Meyer shares some real world examples of policy options that can help achieve our goals including the Conservation Reserve Program.