A physiologically based population dynamics model of a renewable resource is used as the basis to develop a model of human harvesting. The model incorporates developing technology and the effects of market forces on the sustainability of common property resources. The bases of the model are analogies between the economics of resource harvesting and allocation by firms and adapted organisms in nature. Specifically, the paper makes the following points: (1) it shows how economic and ecological theories may be unified; (2) it punctuates the importance of time frame in the two systems (evolutionary versus market); (3) it shows, contrary to prevailing economic wisdom, how technological progress may be detrimental to resource preservation; (4) it shows how the anticipated effects of high discount rates on resource use can be catastrophic when synergized by progress in harvesting technology; (5) it suggests that increases in efficiency of utilization of the harvest encourages higher levels of resource exploitation; and (6) it shows the effects of environmental degradation on consumer and resource dynamics. The model leads to global implications on the relationship between economic growth and the ability of modern societies to maintain the environment at a sustainable level.
Ecological Economics – Elsevier
Published: Sep 1, 1998
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