EXTERNALITIES, OR THE EASIEST WAY TO SAVE THE WORLD

The easiest way to save the world

How to get stucked in traffic — The most impalpable definitions of selfishness — How you can save the world — Kim Kardasian on your street.

I will argue: one of the metrics to watch out for in order to monitor any improvement in our world (imagining it’s possible) is a measure of externality — which is, the “the cost or benefit that affects a party who DID NOT choose to incur that cost or benefit”

Herein I will focus on cost (that is, negative externality)

If you think you are more likely to be harmed by your physician than to benefit (because of unintended consequences), looking for another physician will be a pleasure. This is easy to internalize — you recognized a probable negative externality and you flee (again, negative externality is a cost that will affect you without you choosing to incur the cost)

Let’s scale it up a little bit. Two, if you think the only way to shrink traffic in your city is to build more roads, (especially when there are no more rooms for roads) then you are probably not thinking of externalities. If your neighbor decide to drive on the highway (say, for something of less importance), that is a negative externality right in front of you. He has just increased the probability of you being stucked in traffic.

I think we can do better; let’s scale it up even bigger — Three, global warming.

If you attempt to google “top countries most affected by global warming” here are the examples of countries you will find: Sudan, Bangladesh, Guinea Bissau, Ethopia … countries that are contributing almost nothing to global warming. Yet they are, and will be the most affected. It will also be helpful to think about the poverty in these countries.

If you followed my train of thoughts, you will realize (very quickly) that I have just made an argument for selfishness (among several other things).

Let’s review the points again.

When you are going to your physician, thinking of externalities can be as easy as breathing (that sounds like an exaggeration, but you get the point). If you are bright and pay a little more attention then the traffic-negative-externality might not be that difficult to grabs.But for the third, that is the most impalpable (yet profound) definition of selfishness, and the best way to define it to the least foolish amongst us.

Again, It’s easy to think of externalities when you are the hit. But never easy if you  generate the hits.

A lot of people might ask, how can I save the world?

Here is the answer – the easiest way you can save the world is to think of externalities. Simple. The ripple effects of an action. And as you might have experienced or expect these are not usually intuitive (again, expect if you are the hit)

However, saving the world can never be easier

(Photo Credit)

PS: If you are still having difficulty understand externalities. This will do – Imagine seeing Kim Kardasian in one of her very notorious shots. This time around, unannounced (and not on the internet) but right on your street, strutting (heavily) as she walks by.

Bingo! Probably the best definition of externality you could get.

Depending on your personality type you will end up with an emotional cost or benefit (which in fact are all costs) – for example, your response might range from shocked to enthralled, either ways you have got an externality.

 

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