The "Ice Bucket Challenge" was a social media sensation in the summer of 2014. It raised close to $100 million for ALS research (up from $2.6 million the year before). About 33,000 North Americans get ALS each year. (1) On average, North Americans donate about 2% of their income to charities each year. What is the likely effect of the Ice Bucket Challenge on other charities like the Red Cross or the Heart Foundation? (2) There are currently about 6 million North Americans with Alzheimer's disease and about 30 million with diabetes. 800,000 North Americans die of heart disease every year. Given the number of ALS cases and your answer to the first question, is it likely that the Ice Bucket Challenge will improve overall health? (3) The proponents of solar energy often remark at the exceptionally low marginal costs of production. In sunny climates, solar costs about $0.03 per kilowatt hour, whereas natural gas, coal, and nuclear power cost about $0.10 per kilowatt hour. However, very few places (even the sunniest) have adopted solar power. What does this suggest about the cost function of solar energy?

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What is the likely effect of the Ice Bucket Challenge on other charities like the Red Cross or the Heart Foundation?

Interesting question! In 2014, there were several criticisms about the amount of money raised by the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS. As you mentioned, Americans suffer comparatively more from...

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What is the likely effect of the Ice Bucket Challenge on other charities like the Red Cross or the Heart Foundation?

Interesting question! In 2014, there were several criticisms about the amount of money raised by the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS. As you mentioned, Americans suffer comparatively more from diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer's disease than from ALS. Detractors feared that people who donated extensively to the ALS effort would have fewer funds to call upon for charities associated with Alzheimer's, diabetes, cancer, or heart disease.

Meanwhile, others took issue with the sensationalist nature of the Ice Bucket Challenge. Celebrities joined in the fundraising efforts, which then spurred greater participation by the populace. Detractors later voiced their concerns that other charities wouldn't be able to duplicate this element of the Ice Bucket Challenge: the ability to inspire celebrities from all branches of the media to participate in a charity effort.

So, were the fears pertaining to the Ice Bucket Challenge realistic? For the answer, let's examine how much Americans donated to charity in 2014. According to GivingUSA, Americans donated more than $350 billion dollars to charity in 2014, the highest total in 60 years in the history of GivingUSA. You can read the article by clicking on the link. Therefore, the idea that the Ice Bucket Challenge channeled money away from other charity efforts simply isn't true.

As for concerns about duplicating the viral nature of the Ice Bucket Challenge, this holds true for any organization. It's a challenge to create viral content or even a viral effort. Creating it takes patience, courage, creativity, and imagination, regardless of the organization or charitable cause.

Given the number of ALS cases and your answer to first question, is it likely that the Ice Bucket Challenge will improve overall health?

Although the number of people who suffer from ALS is comparatively lower than the number of people with other diseases, ALS did recently see some significant scientific breakthroughs. You can read about it by following the links below. For example, a new gene (NEK1) that contributes to ALS was discovered. Additionally, scientists discovered that mutated forms of the protein TDP-43 protein could be responsible for diseases such as ALS, Alzheimer's, and muscular dystrophy. This discovery proves that important research like this could lead to breakthroughs in more than one disease research field (such as ALS) in the near future. Basically, the Ice Bucket Challenge led to important scientific discoveries, which could potentially benefit people with diseases other than ALS.

The proponents of solar energy often remark at the exceptionally low marginal costs of production. In sunny climates, solar costs about $0.03 per kilowatt hour, whereas natural gas, coal, and nuclear power cost about $0.10 per kilowatt hour. However, very few places (even the sunniest) have adopted solar power. What does this suggest about the cost function of solar energy?

In economics, the cost function refers to the cost of producing a certain amount of a particular product. To determine the cost function, we combine both fixed and variable costs to arrive at the total production cost. From the total production cost, we'll be able to estimate how costs will vary from month to month, depending on output levels. For example, if an organization wants to produce more of a product in March than February, it will incur higher variable costs (raw materials, labor, utilities, etc.).

Basically, the cost function lets us figure out how costs will vary based on output levels (how much of the product we want to produce).

In your example, it would appear that the total production cost for solar energy would be lower in warmer climates. The Northeast would likely see higher production costs for solar energy compared to the South, for instance.

Of course, there are other factors affecting the cost function over time. For example, new technologies have increased solar panel efficiency, and this can effect total production cost levels, as well. You can read about it here.

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