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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Farewell.....for now

I have been unable to post regularly to my blog since the last couple of months...and this has led me to finally put my blogging in cold storage indefinitely. I am really not sure when I will be able to revive it, but I hope it is sometime in the near future. To all of you who have been visiting - thanks, and I look forward to coming back with a vengeance...


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Economics of Sustainability

A few months ago, I had been to the local supermarket to purchase a dish washing liquid. As the store had a newly established "organic products" section, I was checking out the more environment-friendly brands they had available. Surprise, surprise -- to purchase most of those products you actually had to pay a larger price than for the 'regular', more popular products. Well, in many ways it is no suprise that current market economics work against most of these products -- the biggest USP that they have is their 'eco-friendliness' -- which, frankly, caters to only a niche market. (Indeed, most people that I know hardly take this aspect into consideration during purchase). I am no expert in economics, but all the pricing aspect seems to do is narrow down the consumer base even more. Is the presence of a smaller market actually drive the pricing aspect for these products? I am not sure. Of course, pricing isnt the only factor that consumers (always) take into consideration (efficacy is also important), but some of the prices were set ridiculously high, making them the highest priced products in their category. How can more people be expected to buy them in this case? This example demonstrates that environment friendly products are not mainstream -- as yet. To acheive this, stores need to sell these products alongside the 'regular' ones, with competitive pricing. This approach seems to make more sense in the long run....

Switch tracks to an article from the NY Times on sturgeon fishing, published sometime ago. As most of you know, the eggs of the sturgeon fish - caviar - are a coveted delicacy, and are very highly priced. Here's a quote...
".....After he and his crewmates cut the fish open, he (the fisherman) said, they pulled out 100 kilograms of eggs. At today's prices, that could draw $50,000 for a day's work. It would ultimately sell for as much as $650,000 in the West. With such prices, the short-term market logic militates against conservation. As sturgeon become more scarce, they become more coveted, pushing prices higher and creating greater incentive to fish. The dynamic is perfectly counterproductive: the best money is in the eggs, the part of the fish needed to replenish stocks."
Rather than leading people to acknowledge the fact that the demand for caviar is rapidly depleting the sturgeon stocks, their increasing rarity is driving prices for the eggs even higher, making them more coveted than ever. Obviously, there is no let up in the demand side, and no alternative means of harvesting the caviar. This is a vicious cycle that will only contribute to decreasing the sturgeon stocks, and possibly extinction of the fish in its natural habitats. To be fair, there are some bans in place on sale of certain caviar; and also restrictions on fishing -- but is it any surprise that most of the demand is also from the west?


Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy 2006!

Lets see what the new year has in store...


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Simpsons and the Artic Oil Drilling Fiasco

So the US Senate finally blocked attempts to permit drilling for oil in the Alaska Wildlife Refuge, following reports that this bill was actually passed yesterday. The ridiculous story here is that the drilling provision was attached onto a must-pass defense spending bill. This underhand technique (which, according to some reports, is pretty frequently carried out) reminded me of an episode of the Simpsons where the family goes to Washington and manages to get a bill passed by simply attaching it to another one with a paper clip. Hah. In a rare moment of sanity, the senate actually saw through this scheme. But, this issue is far from over, as CNN reports. Supposedly, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), has spent 25 of his 37 years in the senate campaigning for this bill. 'nuf said.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Finally.....a victory!

Good news everyone! (told in Prof. Hubert Farnsworth style)



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