Why Grow Fins?

I’ve been following a number of economics and science blogs for some time now, and I gradually became convinced that the importance of blogging in the scientific debate can only get bigger in the near future. Read, for instance, this article in The Economist about how blogging is shaping macroeconomics debates, or David Zetland’s thoughts on blogging in academia. Speed is an obvious advantage: it can take a year to publish a paper in a peer-reviewed journal, and a couple of weeks to publish in policy-oriented journals such as ESB, but a blogpost can be up in a few minutes. (Admittedly, not having to get your ideas past an editor also helps.) Moreover, as the Economist article argues, blogging has helped extend the academic debate to include some fairly wild ideas that would have been a lot more difficult to express in a respected peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps closer to my field of interest, I see the same happening in the climate debate. I’m not a climate sceptic, but I believe it is a healthy thing to be exposed to views contrary to your own, such as those expressed on, say, Watts Up With That? or, in my own native language, Climategate.nl. Lastly, blogging is a great way to communicate with students and anyone outside academia. (So next time I don’t feel like talking about work at birthday parties I can refer people to this blog.)

Then, you might still wonder, why ‘Grow Fins’? My main research interest lies in the economics of marine and coastal ecosystems. The most fundamental insights in fisheries economics were already published in the 1950s, but as economic activity in coastal and marine zones is getting denser, and the range of goods and services we take from these ecosystems widens, there is still a lot of work to do for the dismal science. I intend to use this blog to highlight some of the work I am doing in this domain, which includes teaching resource economics courses to BSc and MSc students, and doing research (or supervising PhD students) on such issues as fisheries management, invasive species, and valuation.

Another reason for this name is that I’m a great fan of weird fringe music such as Captain Beefheart, Italian psychedelic doom metal, Californian stoner-bluesrock, Ethiopian jazz, English Morris-on-steroids, French traditional dance music, and Flemish folk music. So expect the occasional rant about some obscure band, artist, or festival.

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