class2_w08 - Environmental Science and Environmental Policy...

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Environmental Science and Environmental Policy Why are environmental conflicts challenging to resolve? Scientific uncertainty Decisions need to be made, but the science is only partly known Climate change – how much will temperatures rise, what will be the impacts, should we impose controls now or not?? Necessity of accepting some risks (coal versus nuclear power) How well understood must a problem be before taking action? How serious must a problem be before taking action?
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Environmental Science and Environmental Policy Market Failures Supply and demand economics fails, requiring policy interventions Clean air and healthy ecosystems have no direct market value and are generally ignored in economic decision-making. Pollution does not become more expensive as clean air is “used up”. No pricing mechanism exists to signal scarcity Issue: Net benefits to society versus individual selfish behavior – The Tragedy of the Commons -in a condition where a common resource is limiting (cattle-grazing) -many farmers turn cattle loose to graze.
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