Friday, October 09, 2009

Environmental crises: past, present, and future

Scott Taylor gave this paper at the 2009 European Association of Environmental Economists conference in Amsterdam this year. It was an excellent talk and is a great paper.

I buy the story and the model. The increase in CO2 can be viewed as a crisis in the making. This paper is a ripping yarn of death, doom and destruction. Recommend to all (with a maths and squiggly pictures warning).

Innis Lecture: Environmental crises: past, present, and future

M. Scott Taylor

Department of Economics, University of Calgary


Abstract . Environmental crises are distinguished by rapid and largely unexpected changes in environmental quality that are difficult if not impossible to reverse. Examples would be major extinctions and significant degradations of an ecosystem. I argue there are three preconditions for crisis: failures in governance, an ecological system exhibiting a tipping point, and an economy/environment interaction with positive feedbacks. I develop a simple model to illustrate how a crisis may arise, and draw on our knowledge of past and present crises to highlight the mechanisms involved. I then speculate as to whether climate change is indeed a crisis in the making.


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