Bobby McCormick - PERC

Bobby McCormick

Senior Fellow

Bobby McCormick’s earliest memories as a child are being raised in a property rights oriented household by an outdoorsy, farming, lumber/logging family; he remembers always thinking about “who owns what.” McCormick views the environment as an asset and environmental failures as the result of ambiguous environmental ownership. To redress these failures, McCormick thinks that ownership assets need to be clearly marked and defined. He says that “good fences make good neighbors” is both good poetry and good policy.

McCormick attended Clemson University and received his bachelor’s degree in economics in 1972. Then in 1974, he received his master’s degree in environmental economics from Clemson. Later, he earned his Ph.D. in economics at Texas A&M University in 1978.

In 1997, McCormick received the award for Innovative Teacher of the Year, nominated by the students at Clemson University. The following year he received the Alumni Master Teacher of the Year from Clemson University. McCormick has also been a Professor Visitante at the Universidad Francisco Marroquin in Guatemala City, Guatemala in 1990. He is a fellow at Consortium International MBA, CIMBA, which is an Italian program for MBA students, and he lectures annually during the spring in Italy to these students. Currently, McCormick is an economics professor at Clemson and the BB&T scholar in the John E. Walker Department of Economics. He is also senior research associate in the Arthur M. Spiro Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.

Since 2002, McCormick has been a senior fellow and directed a program at PERC for environmental entrepreneurs who want to have a better understanding of how business and economic principles can be applied to environmental problems. In 2001, he was a Julian Simon Fellow at PERC. He is heavily engaged in the research of carbon sequestration and its impact on global warming. In this research, McCormick is investigating how income affects carbon sequestration as a solution for global warming.

McCormick resides in Clemson with his family. He has two sons, both of whom are heavily involved in athletics. McCormick enjoys spending his free time woodworking, hunting, and roaming his property on his tractor. He spends summers in Bozeman, where he is involved in remodeling a house from the 1880s.

His address at Clemson is Bobby McCormick, Interim Dean, College of Business and Behavioral Science, Clemson University, Clemson SC 29631, and his website is

Articles by Bobby McCormick

High Efficiency Devices, CFL Light Bulbs, Caveat Emptor

Starting in January, the common incandescent light bulb becomes illegal, well maybe, in most of the United States. (Some recalcitrant states, SC and TX to name two, seem hell bent on reminding the federal government of the long forgotten 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but wasn’t that fight settled a long time ago?) Advocates of this law say that it encourages the use of more energy efficient lighting sources such as CFL and LED lights. It has been noted that a large fraction of the energy consumed by an incandescent light bulb goes to create heat and not light, and that the newer, high tech devices produce an equal amount of light using less energy.However, those of us who aren’t lucky enough to live in AZ, south FL, or San Diego, demand a LOT of heat many months of the year. In Montana, I use natural gas to heat my home about 7-8 months of the year. In South Carolina, I heat my home about 5-6 months of the year using wood and electricity, not every day, but most of them from November to April.The energy that creates heat, not light, in a regular incandescent bulb is NOT wasted during those months. It is a nearly perfect substitute for the alternative heat in my home. The same electricity that heats the filament in my incandescent bulb in my living room in my South Carolina home in winter will be used by my heat pump to reproduce the heat lost when I convert to CFL or LED lights when my woodstove runs low. There is NO energy savings of any important degree. (It bears noting that my heat pump is a more efficient producer of energy than my incandescent bulbs, but that is not my main point as is explored more below.)Of course in the spring, fall, and summer, the CFL bulbs will not be producing heat that I don’t want, but that isn’t my point here. I am only making the observation that you are foolish to think that you will get the savings printed on the carton of CFL light bulbs if you ever use gas, electricity, or any other energy source to heat your house. Replacing incandescent light bulbs with cooler CFL or LED lighting means that other heat sources have to work harder in your home when it is cold outside. Of this there can hardly be any doubt.To be sure, heat pumps and natural gas may be more efficient heaters than incandescent bulbs, no argument here. I am only making the point that for homes in cool or cold climates, the promised energy savings simply cannot emerge.It makes a lot more sense to use CFL or LED lighting outside where the incandescent light bulb heat is wasted, or during summer or non-heating months, and I use them myself in this application. I have made a little Excel spreadsheet calculator [XLS] that properly calculates the real energy savings you will get from switching to CFL or LED lights from incandescent which is based on the number of days that you think you heat your home. Those of you who are interested to see just how dishonest the current forecasts are are welcome to use this simple tool. 

Brainless Sustainability

One of the envirobuzzwords of the 21st century is sustainability. I recently googled the term “environmental sustainability” and there were over 11 million hits. The…