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On production and abatement time scales in sustainable development. Can we loosen the sustainability screw ?


  • FILAR, Jerzy A.
  • KRAWCZYK, Jacek B.
  • AGRAWAL, Manju


In this paper we carry out a preliminary exploration of a time scales' conjecture, which postulates that "reasonable" notions of sustainability must include a suitable synchronisation of time scales of both the processes of human development and those of the natural environment. We perform our analysis within a coarse, ?ve variable, model of man-nature interactions expressed as a system of differential equations where production and human capital are coupled with both renewable and non-renewable natural resource. We demonstrate a phenomenon that we name the "sustainability screw" that describes a spiral like trajectory of the three key variables: non-renewable and renewable resources as well as the production capital. Under many plausible scenarios, this spiral tends unacceptably fast to an undesirable equilibrium. However, we also show that by adjusting the ratio of "intensity of production effort" and "intensity of abatement effort", parameters of the relative time scales of production and natural recovery processes can be altered in a manner that produces, arguably, more sustainable trajectories.

Suggested Citation

  • FILAR, Jerzy A. & KRAWCZYK, Jacek B. & AGRAWAL, Manju, 2009. "On production and abatement time scales in sustainable development. Can we loosen the sustainability screw ?," CORE Discussion Papers 2009028, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  • Handle: RePEc:cor:louvco:2009028

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Géarard Gaudet & Ngo Long, 1996. "Vertical Integration, Foreclosure, and profits in the Presence of Double Marginalization," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 5(3), pages 409-432, September.
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    4. Veronika Grimm & Gregor Zoettl, 2006. "Capacity Choice under Uncertainty: The Impact of Market Structure," Working Paper Series in Economics 23, University of Cologne, Department of Economics.
    5. Leland, Hayne E, 1972. "Theory of the Firm Facing Uncertain Demand," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(3), pages 278-291, June.
    6. Michael A. Salinger, 1988. "Vertical Mergers and Market Foreclosure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 103(2), pages 345-356.
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    Cited by:

    1. Krawczyk, Jacek B & Pharo, Alastair & Simpson, Mark, 2011. "Approximations to viability kernels for sustainable macroeconomic policies," Working Paper Series 1531, Victoria University of Wellington, School of Economics and Finance.

    More about this item


    sustainable optimization systems; viability; multiple time scale;

    JEL classification:

    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis
    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development

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