Tag Archive: ERG Colloquium

  1. ERG Colloquium: Sol Hsiang

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    Solomon_Hsiang_BIDS_lectureEnergy and Resources Group Spring 2014 Col­lo­quium Series (ER295)

    Destruction, Disinvestment, and Death: Economic and Human Losses Following Environmental Disaster

    Sol Hsiang
    Assistant Professor
    Goldman School of Public Policy
    UC Berkeley

    The immediate physical damages caused by environmental disasters are conspicuous and often the focus of media and government attention. In contrast, the nature and magnitude of post-disaster losses remain largely unknown because they are not easily observable. Here we exploit annual variation in the incidence of typhoons (West-Pacific hurricanes) to identify post-disaster losses within Filipino households. We find that unearned income and excess infant mortality in the year after typhoon exposure outnumber immediate damages and death tolls roughly 15-to-1. Typhoons destroy durable assets and depress incomes, leading to broad expenditure reductions achieved in part through disinvestments in health and human capital. Infant mortality mirrors these economic responses, and additional findings — that only female infants are at risk, that sibling competition elevates risk, and that infants conceived after a typhoon are also at risk — indicate that this excess mortality results from household decisions made while coping with post-disaster economic conditions. We estimate that these post-typhoon “economic deaths” constitute 13% of the overall infant mortality rate in the Philippines. Taken together, these results indicate that economic and human losses due to environmental disaster may be an order of magnitude larger than previously thought and that adaptive decision-making may amplify, rather than dampen, disasters’ social cost.

    SOLOMON HSIANG combines data with mathematical models to understand how society and the environment influence one another. In particular, he focuses on how policy can encourage economic development while managing the global climate. His research has been published in Science, Nature, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Hsiang earned a BS in Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Science and a BS in Urban Studies and Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and he received a PhD in Sustainable Development from Columbia University. He was a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Applied Econometrics at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy at Princeton University. Hsiang is currently an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley and a Faculty Research Fellow at the NBER.

    In 2013, Hsiang became the inaugural recipient of the American Geophysical Union’s Science for Solutions Award for “significant contributions in the application and use of Earth and space sciences to solve societal problems”.

    In 2014, Hsiang was named in Forbes Magazine’s 30 Under 30 in Law and Policy.

  2. ERG Colloquium: Sam Borgeson

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    sam_borgesonEnergy and Resources Group Spring 2014 Col­lo­quium Series (ER295)

    Targeted Efficiency: Using Customer Meter Data to Improve Efficiency Program Outcomes

    Sam Borgeson

    PhD Candidate
    Energy and Resources Group
    UC Berkeley

    Sam’s dissertation is on the potential for data from customer smart meters to be used to modernize the planning, execution, and evaluation of energy efficiency programs. This is one of many steps that will be required to deliver a clean, efficient, and flexible grid, which is itself a requirement of meeting mitigation goals.

    Using smart meter data from a representative sample of PG&E’s customer base, he will show how meter data can be used to estimate previously unobserved housing stock and occupant characteristics and applied to problems in planning and targeting energy efficiency and demand response programs. He will also discuss the policy ramifications of this work, which include significant challenges for the administrators of public interest energy efficiency programs, especially the need for effective customer privacy protections that do not foreclose on beneficial uses of the data.

    Sam Borgeson’s academic, and now professional, work is focused on understanding how to deliver reliable, widespread, and deep reductions in energy consumption. He recognizes consumption as driven by technological, social, cultural, and economic factors and sees significant opportunities in applying interdisciplinary approaches to energy efficiency programs. Sam received his PhD in Energy and Resources from UC Berkeley in the fall of 2013. He also holds a masters in Building Science from UC Berkeley. He studied physics as an undergraduate at Wesleyan University (1993-1997) and founded a software consulting firm (2000 to present) specializing in developing custom web-based software utilizing agile software methodologies.