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How Fast Should We Graze the Global Commons?

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  • Nordhaus, William

Abstract

Unlike the vast preponderance of planets, earth has been bequeathed a hospitable environment in which to thrive. Up to now, man's activities have affected this environment negligibly. Scientists are becoming convinced, however, that release of carbon dioxide (CO2) from combustion of fossil fuels will lead to a significant modification of the global climate (see Woodwell). How should we think about such a destruction of our heritage? Should it be treated as anathema, like bondage? Or should the pace and extent of use of our global commons be subject to the same reasoned balancing of costs and benefits as other economic activities? The present paper takes the second approach -- asking how fast the global economy should allow a buildup of atmospheric CO2. The first section reviews the current scientific knowledge on this subject, while the second puts this into an optimal growth framework. The third section then presents a numerical example, while the last presents some realistic policy views on the subject.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 72 (1982)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 242-46

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:72:y:1982:i:2:p:242-46

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Citations

RePEc Biblio mentions

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  1. > Environmental and Natural Resource Economics > Environmental Economics
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Cited by:
  1. Spash, Clive L. & Clayton, Anthony M. H., 1995. "Strategies for the maintenance of natural capital," MPRA Paper 38273, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Goulder, Lawrence H. & Pizer, William A., 2006. "The Economics of Climate Change," Discussion Papers dp-06-06, Resources For the Future.
  3. Spash, Clive L. & Hanley, Nick, 1994. "Cost-benefit analysis and the greenhouse effect," MPRA Paper 38666, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Stavins, Robert, 2000. "Economic Analysis of Global Climate Change Policy: A Primer," Working Paper Series rwp00-003, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  5. Richard S.J. Tol, 2007. "The Social Cost Of Carbon: Trends, Outliers And Catastrophes," Working Papers FNU-144, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Aug 2007.
  6. W. J. McKibbin & T. J. Bok, . "The Impact on the Asia-Pacific Region of Fiscal Policy of the United States and Japan," Discussion Papers 120, Brookings Institution International Economics.
  7. Enrico Saltari & Giuseppe Travaglini, 2013. "Optimal Waste Control with Abatement and Productive Capital Stocks," Working Papers 1301, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Department of Economics, Society & Politics - Scientific Committee - L. Stefanini & G. Travaglini, revised 2013.
  8. Bollen, Johannes & van der Zwaan, Bob & Brink, Corjan & Eerens, Hans, 2009. "Local air pollution and global climate change: A combined cost-benefit analysis," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 161-181, August.
  9. Catton, Will, 2009. "Dynamic carbon caps. Splitting the bill: A fairer solution post-Kyoto?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(12), pages 5636-5649, December.
  10. John Haraden & Samuel Herrick & Dale Squires & Clement Tisdell, 2004. "Economic Benefits of Dolphins in the United States Eastern Tropical Pacific Purse-Seine Tuna Industry," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 28(4), pages 451-468, August.
  11. Cavanagh, Sheila & Hahn, Robert & Stavins, Robert, 2001. "National Environmental Policy During the Clinton Years," Working Paper Series rwp01-027, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  12. Stavins, Robert, 2000. "A Two-Way Street Between Environmental Economics and Public Policy," Working Paper Series rwp00-005, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  13. Sandal, Leif Kristoffer & Steinshamn, Stein Ivar, 2004. "Pollution Decay, Consumer Awareness and Optimal Carbon Taxes," Discussion Papers 2004/7, Department of Business and Management Science, Norwegian School of Economics.
  14. Muller, Nicholas Z., 2012. "The design of optimal climate policy with air pollution co-benefits," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 696-722.
  15. Loehman, Edna T. & Randhir, Timothy O., 1999. "Alleviating soil erosion/pollution stock externalities: alternative roles for government," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 29-46, July.
  16. Mads Greaker & Lise-Lotte Pade, 2008. "Optimal CO2 abatement and technological change. Should emission taxes start high in order to spur R&D?," Discussion Papers 548, Research Department of Statistics Norway.

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