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Watt's in the News? - Volume 10

Keeping students’ attention while teaching sustainability is not always easy, the article below lays out three climate-friendly tax credits coming this year, with one topic in particular that is bound to catch students’ attention and interest… “free money”.

We have previously shared the Four Commoner's Laws of Ecology (Barry Commoner, "The Closing Circle") and, while it isn't being applied in terms of an ecosystem application here, one of these laws can be used to help students better understand what this opportunity really means, too.

In microeconomic theory, the opportunity cost of a particular activity is the value or benefit given up by engaging in that activity, relative to engaging in an alternative activity. More effective means if you choose one activity (for example, an investment) you are giving up the opportunity to do a different option.

As it relates to the fourth law, I always told students that it doesn't matter whether we are talking about an ecosystem or society, somebody somewhere somehow is going to have to pay the cost. When an article like this promotes "free money", it is important for students to realize this "free money" is tax-payer money...their money. There is nothing "free" about it. It is important for students to understand this is their tax dollars being put to work and consequently may not be able to support other programs

One of Commoner's lasting legacies is his four laws of ecology, as written in The Closing Circle in 1971. The four laws are:

  • Everything is connected to everything else. There is one ecosphere for all living organisms and what affects one, affects all.
  • Everything must go somewhere. There is no "waste" in nature and there is no "away" to which things can be thrown.
  • Nature knows best. Humankind has fashioned technology to improve upon nature, but such change in a natural system is, says Commoner, "likely to be detrimental to that system".
  • There is no such thing as a free lunch. Exploitation of nature will inevitably involve the conversion of resources from useful to useless forms.
Tate Honaker

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Tate Honaker

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