Occasional Workshop Recap 2015

The Occasional Workshop in Environmental and Resource Economics is one of my favorite conferences. No, not only because it's in beautiful Santa Barbara and we got to stick our feet in the warm Southern California ocean on our way back home! This year, there were a few "long" presentations (20' each, with a 10' discussant slot), but most of the papers were "short" presentations - 8' each, with a couple of minutes for questions afterwards. There are no parallel sessions - everyone sees everything - and 8' is a great way to get a quick introduction to a topic. We see only a very limited part of the environmental economics spectrum at Berkeley, for better or for worse, and so getting to see papers on land use and endangered species and fish is really fun. I was also lucky enough to get to present some of my ongoing work on rural electrification in India, and managed to cut Louis' 60-minute, 75-slide presentation of our paper from Berkeley's development lunch earlier in the week down to an 8-minute, 20-slide presentation (which actually fit into 8', in an homage to Meredith's speaking speed). 

A couple of my favorite presentations (the full list can be found here):

  • Robyn Meeks' "Economics of a Light Bulb: Experimental Evidence on CFLs and End-User Behavior" - a cool thought experiment (plus RCT!) on technology adoption in the face of learning and technical externalities
  • The always-excellent Sol Hsiang's "A Global Experiment in Black Market Dynamics: The Effect of Legal Ivory Sales on Illegal Ivory Production" - allowing legal sales of ivory is disastrous for elephant poaching
  • Amanda Faig's "The Economic Gains to Accounting for Fisheries Induced Evolution" - I'm not a fishery person at all, but this was a really cool look at how fishery managers can induce fish evolution - and how, if they don't account for this, they're much worse off
  • Jeff Shrader's "Estimating Adaptation Using Forecasts" - thinking about how to estimate adaptation in a context with skilled forecasters. Application to ENSO (a rash of cool papers using ENSO makes me want to write a paper using ENSO...does that make me a bandwagon researcher?)
  • Corbett Grainger's "Strategic Placement of Ambient Pollution Monitors: How Local Regulators Comply with Federal Rules" - turns out EPA air pollution monitors might not be optimally placed from a social planner's perspective. Cool.

I'm excited about the future of environmental and resource economics!

Obligatory beach photo courtesy of Becca (who also gave a great presentation at the Occasional and made amazing cookie road trip snacks).

Obligatory beach photo courtesy of Becca (who also gave a great presentation at the Occasional and made amazing cookie road trip snacks).

Finally, two more items of note:

1) T-one week until the wedding!

2) This might be my new favorite energy phenomenon: British grids need to supply additional power during commercial breaks in popular TV shows - because everybody uses them to plug in electric kettles, causing a demand spike. Offfffff course they do.