Matt Rousch who publishes the Great Lakes Innovation and Technology Report for CBS Detroit visited the Copper Country last week and caught up with Associate Professor of Natural Resource Economics, Bill Breffle, for a discussion on environmental economic impacts.
Excerpt taken from Matt Rousch on the 2012 Fall Tech Tour as part of the Great Lakes Innovation and Technology Report.
After lunch it was time for a fascinating socio-political discussion with William Breffle, associate professor of natural resource economics in Tech’s School of Business and Economics.
Breffle described himself as a conservative free marketeer when it comes to economic issues. Yet he acknowledged that there are places where the market fails, such as accounting for pollution let into the environment by private companies and the military — and that’s where he comes in, studying how so-called “externalities” can be eliminated for the benefit of the public through economic evaluation of environmental “disamenities.”
“My work focuses on sustainability and carrying capacity,” Breffle said. “I want to start people thinking about the fact that the economy from a natural resource standpoint is an open system, and we’re going to have to startt treating our waste stream as a necessary but negative side effect of production if we’re going to have long term sustainability of economic services that benefit people.”
Simply put, he said, “It seems as though we don’t care about future generations when it comes to our debt and climate modification. And it becomes a moral issue because the people aren’t even here yet to express their preferences for a clean environment. They aren’t here to vote, and federal and state governments enact regulations and conduct policy in ways that are too myopic to benefit the future as much as they should.”
He said he wants to help a Great Lakes-wide study of pollution problems to deal with the negative combination of numerous ongoing and related problems throughout the broader watershed. He said we can all enjoy a comfortable lifestyle through better technology and education.
“The market works most places most of the time,” Breffle said. “I look at places where it doesn’t and that’s where my career is centered.”
Breffle also said Tech’s business school is healthy and growing, led by programs like an Applied Portfolio Management Program that has tech students managing $1.2 million in reach assets, and a regular 10-second elevator pitch competition. Tech also offers a unique economics program, a master’s of applied natural resource economics.