How to Convince a Country Not to Chop Down Its Rainforest

| November 4, 2023 | Leave a Comment

Item Link: Access the Resource

Date of Publication: October 12

Year of Publication: 2023

Publication City: San Francisco, CA

Publisher: Stanford Graduate School of Business

Author(s): Julia Kane

A domino effect can lead politicians to rapidly deplete natural resources — or commit to conservation

Bård Harstad tells his students that every environmental problem is, at its core, an inefficiency problem. “This inefficiency means that, overall, you’re losing something,” he explains. “It means that there is another way to make decisions so that we could potentially all be better off.”

Harstad, a professor of political economy at Stanford Graduate School of Business, has spent much of his career as an economist trying to find more efficient ways to conserve natural resources and slow climate change. His objective, he says, “is to study what are reasonable, effective ways to set economic policies to solve environmental problems — that also take into account political obstacles — so that you can find solutions that are not only efficient but also politically feasible.”

Harstad’s most recent paper explores the political and economic factors that lead governments to either conserve or exploit finite resources like rainforests or oil reserves. In developing a new model to analyze these scenarios, Harstad uncovered a phenomenon that he calls “the conservation multiplier,” which shows how a slight change in the future benefit of conservation or exploitation can dramatically affect current policy.

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