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Optimal management of an ecosystem with an unknown threshold

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  • Brozovic, Nicholas
  • Schlenker, Wolfram
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    Abstract

    We consider an ecosystem with two distinct equations of motion that are separated by a threshold value of the state variable. We find that increasing uncertainty (both uncertainty embedded in the natural system and uncertainty of the decisionmaker about the location of the threshold) can lead to nonmonotonic changes in precaution: a reduction in uncertainty can first increase and then decrease optimal precautionary activity. This nonmonotonicity can help to explain why regulators often give conflicting arguments about optimal abatement policies in the face of uncertainty. For example, some regulators argue for an immediate reduction in pollutant loading until uncertainty about the underlying process is reduced while others call for no costly reductions in pollutant loading until the same uncertainty is reduced. These statements can be consistent even if both sides agree on both economic objectives and the system dynamics, but have different priors on the uncertainty involved.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

    Volume (Year): 70 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 4 (February)
    Pages: 627-640

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:70:y:2011:i:4:p:627-640

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon

    Related research

    Keywords: Ecosystem management Threshold Stochastic dynamic programming;

    References

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    1. Naevdal, Eric, 2006. "Dynamic optimisation in the presence of threshold effects when the location of the threshold is uncertain - with an application to a possible disintegration of the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 30(7), pages 1131-1158, July.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:
    1. Derek Lemoine & Christian Traeger, 2014. "Watch Your Step: Optimal Policy in a Tipping Climate," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 137-66, February.
    2. Jérémy Laurent-Lucchetti & Justin Leroux & Bernard Sinclair-Desgagné, 2011. "Splitting an Uncertain (Natural) Capital," Cahiers de recherche 11-01, HEC Montréal, Institut d'économie appliquée.
    3. Ren, Bijie & Polasky, Stephen, 2014. "The optimal management of renewable resources under the risk of potential regime shift," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 195-212.
    4. Lemoine, Derek M. & Traeger, Christian P., 2011. "Tipping points and ambiguity in the economics of climate change," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt9nd591ww, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
    5. Tsur, Yacov & Zemel, Amos, 2012. "Dynamic and stochastic analysis of environmental and natural resources," Discussion Papers 120017, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Department of Agricultural Economics and Management.
    6. Zemel, Amos, 2012. "Precaution under mixed uncertainty: Implications for environmental management," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 188-197.
    7. Aart de Zeeuw & Amos Zemel, 2012. "Regime Shifts and Uncertainty in Pollution Control," CESifo Working Paper Series 3697, CESifo Group Munich.
    8. Stephen Polasky & Aart de Zeeuw & Florian Wagener, 2010. "Optimal Management with Potential Regime Shifts," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 10-111/1, Tinbergen Institute.
    9. de Frutos Cachorro, Julia & Erdlenbruch, Katrin & Tidball, Mabel, 2014. "Optimal adaptation strategies to face shocks on groundwater resources," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 134-153.

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