8 Apr 2014

Reduce Transportation Pollution

S writes:*

As we all know, air is a non-excludable and non-rival public resource. As a result, a tremendous amount of vehicle waste is emitted into atmosphere. The air quality in China continues to rapidly deteriorate. According to a study by the World Bank, “air pollution kills more than 750,000 people each year in China”. As a result, it is pertinent that government has to put some new regulations into place to reduce the emissions.

As David mentioned in class, 30% of the air pollution in China is due to transportation. In terms of reducing transportation emission, firstly, I think the Chinese government should develop the public transportation system by constructing more subways to cover urban areas and designing more convenient bus routes. Improving public transport would help people to reduce their time cost, so they would like to take public transport instead of driving. Secondly, if the government tax resources, like gasoline, more drivers would likely choose to use public transport instead because it would be less expensive for them to do so. The Chinese government could spend the gasoline tax revenue to devote to the construction of public transportation. Third, the Chinese government could subsidize the consumption of the hybrid cars. This help to reduce the gas emissions and stimulate the economy since more people would purchase the hybrid car instead. The government spending is from the tax revenue, all people need to pay in order to implement these policies, and meanwhile, all people will be benefit from the air quality improvement. In general, the government must be able to use the taxes on the people.

Bottom line: In my opinion, there is no single perfect policy that could solve the environmental problem. However, the Chinese government needs to do something to stop the environment from deteriorating.
* These guest posts are from students in my resource economics class at Simon Fraser University. Please leave feedback on their logic, ideas and style and suggestions of how to improve.


Umlud said...

You start your post by stating, "As we all know," which is a phrase that works only as space filler when you are trying to write a piece that is both factually accurate and specific.

In contrast, statements like, "As we all know," are neither factually accurate nor specific. Who is the "we all" to whom you refer? Is it a generalized "we all" (as in "all the human beings alive in the world, some of whom may be reading this blog entry") or is it an exclusionary "we all" (as in "all students in Zetland's class" or "all people who have studied environmental/natural resource economics")? Almost always, it is an exclusionary one, and if it is an exclusionary group of people who have this knowledge, then you are not being specific when you use it (and - as such - the accuracy of your statement is so broad as to be next to useless).

Second, such statements assume that there is a direct overlap between having received instruction in something and actually knowing (and understanding) that same thing. In short, the statement makes the presumption that if a person took a course in natural resource economics (for example), that person absolutely and definitely knows (and understands) everything taught in that course. Evidence - the simplest being the form of the final exam of the course - would prove that supposition incorrect. Again, statements like yours are both imprecise and inaccurate (or are accurate at such a low level of precision as to make it next to useless).

To maximize your accuracy and specificity with such comments, try instead, "As people who have studied natural resource economics have learned,..."

Or, just don't use phrases like this in your writing.

There are other reasons why it's not useful to use such phrases in academic writing, including norm that academic writing should appeal to logic and reason and not to emotion, common sense, or arguments based in false logic (such as "argumentum ad populum" which statements like "As we all know" seek to do). However, even based on the standards of maximizing precision and accuracy, academic writers had best elide the use of statements like, "As we all know."

Anonymous said...

Good briefing. I think the problem of air pollution in China needs a solution urgently, especially in city like Beijing where many citizens are suffering from it. The policies you suggested are some potential solution for it. I think another problem may need to be solved before carrying out these policies; that problem is the corruption in China. I think the corruption may make it very hard to enforce the policies or increase the transaction costs.

4940 said...

Author mentioned that government should implement some effective measures for transportation in order to improve air quality, since transportation is one of the main causes of air pollution. In my opinion, although “constructing more subways and more convenient bus routes seem like a decent measures, many people still will travel to work by car. For the reason that underground and bus are so crowded during rush hours in some densely populated cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Besides, as people are living a better economic conditions life now, most of people don’t really care about the tax. Even though they don’t drive, more and more adolescents go out by taxi (taxi is very convenient in China, coz we don’t need to call) Hence, I think that the population issues is a main causes of transportation pollution as well. Student ID #4940

scotra said...

This was a good post - it addresses the theory of tragedy of the commons, and proposes ways to address the market failures. It would have been improved if you'd explained public / private goods and the causes of market failure. Umlud was a bit right about the audience - most people won't understand the implications of rivalrous and excludable goods (although his comment was a bit over the top)

Anonymous said...

I agree that air pollution is a prevalent issue that needs to be addressed. My town is currently in the process of establishing a public transportation system, This would affect my area by increasing traffic congestion and emitting more fumes into our environment. With the advancements in technology and all the solar and battery powered automobiles coming about in today's society, I feel solar-powered buses could be achievable and efficient. It would reduce the amount of toxic emissions being let out into our air and still provide an affordable, easy transit for the public.

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