Environmental Interview I Wish I Had Done

Freakonomics Radio episode, How Efficient is Energy Efficiency?, is great. It’s an interview with Dr. Arik Levinson about his work on energy efficiency as an “environmental economist”. Dr. Levinson is a professor at Georgetown University and spent time as a senior economist for environmental issues with the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) under President Obama. The episode is so good, it’s an environmental interview I wish I had conducted. This blog’s primary goal is talking with interesting environmental professionals about their important, relevant, and/or cool work. That’s this interview.

Environmental professional’s often have jobs that aren’t easily defined. Often they’re merely thought of as “environmentalists”. Dr. Levinson is a perfect example of this. He’s an economist, not an environmentalist. But his work is influential on the environmental field.

His economics based research on energy efficiency is eye-opening. He’s taken the emotion out of environmental issues, which is what economists tend to do. Here are some of the highlights of the interview. Click here to listen to the episode.

  • His research indicates that energy efficiency initiatives aren’t as effective as we think, or effective at all. He has the research to prove it.
  • Being pro-environment is not necessarily being anti-market.
  • “Head-in-the-sand.” denial commonality of hard-core environmentalists and climate change deniers.
  • Climate change is a difficult political problem, but it’s a very simple economic problem. The simple economic solution is to raise the cost of doing things that emit carbon.
  • He is asked, what’s better, to use a renewable coffee mug or disposable cups? He can’t answer it because he hasn’t done the research.
  • Using landfill space is not an environmental problem. We have plenty of space in the United States. This concept really stuck with me. It’s true, to an extent, and should be looked at in more depth.