How can we help?

You can also find more resources in our Help Center.

30 terms

PHL373 Issues in Environmental Ethics

STUDY
PLAY
What is a prisoner's dilemma?
A paradox in decision analysis in which two individuals acting in their own best interest pursue a course of action that does not result in the ideal outcome. The typical prisoner's dilemma is set up in such a way that both parties choose to protect themselves at the expense of the other participant.

As a result of following a purely logical thought process to help oneself, both participants find themselves in a worse state than if they had cooperated with each other.

Being a sucker= when you act cooperatively in a context where the others don't
free rider problem= when both people defect from cooperative agreement, which makes them both worse off (than if they had cooperated) --> efficiency problem rather than fairness problem
What is a collective action problem?
when the group interest doesn't translate into individual interest; CAP shows the default human condition if people just act on their self-interest; collectively, people act in ways that are self-defeating because they are pursuing their individual benefits

e.g. NHL players with helmets, prisoner's dilemma, overfishing of cod
what is the tragedy of the commons?
Imagine a Pasture open to all, where each herdsman will try to keep as many cattle as possible on commons. This will work reasonably well because wars, poaching and disease keep population of man and beast below carrying capacity of land. When social stability is reached, population will grow. As a rational person, each herdsman will seek to maximize their own gain:

-Their ultility to adding one more animal to herd?
• benefit of +1 (he receives all the profit from sale of extra animal)
• cost is fraction of -1 (cost of overgrazing by extra animal is shared by all herdsmen)

The only sensible option for rational herdsman is to add one more animal to herd. This process repeats, which causes the tragedy.Ruin is destination to which all men rush, when pursuing their own best interest, in a society which has a free commons
In what ways are the prisoner's dilemma/collective action/tragedy of the commons a manifestation of the same problem?
These are a manifestation of the same problem because each member of group wants a positive group outcome, but simultaneously, each person acts in their rational self-interest, which harms the group.
It is always better to act in your own self interest in a collective action problem, regardless of what others might do (cooperate/defect) because if others cooperate, you get to free ride off them and if others defect too, you won't become the sucker. However, when both individuals defect, you have a free rider problem, and they are collectively much worse off (than if they'd cooperated).
What are externalities?
An externality is a cost or benefits that is experienced by someone who is not part of the transaction that produced it.
Externalities are sometimes said to be a consequence of the incompleteness of property rights. Property rights are by their nature incomplete because you can't have property rights over everything (air, water etc.)
The externality is a price distortion which leads to a systematic misallocation in society.
what are property rights?
Property rights are a mechanism for deflecting externalities, so its more difficult for people to externalize costs;you exercise property over anything that you are in contact with;

Property rights can be used to resolve some CAP (e.g. turn land from a commons into individual plots) But there are things that are difficult to divide and hard to solve using property rights. This doesn't privilege the market for solving these problems- property rights only work in some cases.
how are externalities addressed by pigovian taxes?
Standard pigovian remedy to externalities is to impose a tax on products so the prices are where they should be (and where they would be if the system of property rights were complete).
e.g. Sin Tax on alcohol is also a type of pigovian tax;
government puts a tax on alcohol to reflect the social consequences/externalities of alcohol consumption
Pigovian approach is left wing approach, pro-regulation. Unlike regular taxes which create inefficiency, pigovian taxes raise efficiency and produce a stable source of revenue
what is relevance of "social cost" in determining appropriate tax level?
The social cost is the price of the production of a good + any externalities produced as a result of production. When determining the appropriate tax level, taxes on good should cover the total costs of it's production. Marginal private costs of producer should equal the marginal social cost of product.
•Pigovian remedy for externalities is to assign them a price, a price that balances the social cost and private benefit of an activity; It corrects the market failure by assign the right price on things; It doesn't have deontic force, because the goal is NOT to prohibit an activity, its to promote efficiency.
define pareto superiority/optimality?
the pareto-optimum is the level at which it's no longer possible to improve someone's welfare without worsening someone else's welfare.
Given an initial allocation of goods among a set of individuals, a change to a different allocation that makes at least one individual better off without making any other individual worse off is called a Pareto improvement. An allocation is defined as "Pareto efficient" or "Pareto optimal" when NO further Pareto improvements can be made.

(i.) Pareto Superiority = A move from one distribution point to another is said to be superior when at least one party is better off and no one else is worse off. (This includes moves that benefit all parties; the essential concern is that no one is worse off after the move compared to welfare before the move.)

(ii.) Pareto Inferiority = A move from one distribution point to another is said to be inferior when at least one party is worse off (even if all others are better
what is efficiency?
On the pareto frontier, it's an outcome that is preferred by at least one person and is not dispreferred by anyone else, thus it is superior (if there is an outcome that makes someone better off and nobody worse off, it is dominant).
what is the relevance of prices?
Prices are used to justify a certain person consuming something. System of prices is not a morally neutral idea (i.e. they have moral significance) you produce more happiness by giving a product to the person who paid the most for it, so its justified rather than by giving it to other random people.
The externality is a price distortion which leads to a systematic misallocation in society.Pricing helps to eliminate waste of resources.
What is relationship between climate change mitigation and adaptation?
Mitigation is reducing climate change. We can reduce the sources of GHG gases (for example, the burning of fossil fuels for electricity, heat or transport) or enhancing the "sinks" that accumulate and store these gases (such as the oceans, forests and soil).

While adaptation is adapting to life in a changing climate. The goal is to reduce our vulnerability to the harmful effects of climate change (like sea-level encroachment, more intense extreme weather events or food insecurity). It also encompasses making the most of any potential beneficial opportunities associated with climate change (for example, longer growing seasons or increased yields in some regions).

For effective CC action, we need both mitigation and adaptation.
what is mitigation?
Climate mitigation is any action taken to permanently eliminate or reduce the long-term risk and hazards of climate change to human life, property.
what is adaptation?
Climate adaptation refers to the ability of a system to adjust to climate change (including climate variability and extremes) to moderate potential damage, to take advantage of opportunities, or to cope with the consequences.
what are the four different policy options for responding to climate change?
a) cap and trade
b) carbon tax
c) control regulation
d) subsidies
what is cap and trade?
cap and trade changes the quantity of CO2 and wait for price to adjust (government intervenes on x axis, and the market freely adjusts the price)
• Giving the companies permits doesn't mean they are free to pollute, they rather have to take into consideration the opportunity costs of trading their permits for money rather using them
• Companies can sell some of their permits, and pocket the profit by finding out a more efficient way to produce their product

Manufacturers prefer cap and trade because there is quantity certainty but price uncertainty
Carbon tax and Cap and trade are equivalent, their net consequences are the same
what is a carbon tax?
carbon tax= putting a tax on goods which heavily use consumption of carbon (standard pigouvian tax)
o A carbon tax would not change an intra-marginal consumer's behaviour but it would change behaviour at the margin
o A carbon tax doesn't change average behaviour, just behaviour at the margin, you just want to cut out the superfluous consumption of carbon

carbon tax changes the price, and waits for the quantity to adjust (government intervenes on the y axis, and allows the market to adjust the quantity that is produced).With a carbon tax you get price certainty but uncertainty on quantity (this is why businesses prefer tax over cap and trade). Carbon tax and Cap and trade are equivalent, their net consequences are the same
what is a control regulation?
Pricing goods appropriately is a regulation, and can be used when
1) Desired pollution level is not 0 (banning is easy to do with things that you don't want any levels of, e.g. could ban coal, ban asbestos)
• Pricing can decided how much pollution is going to be allowed, when you don't want to eliminate pollution completely -->manning
2) Hard to know where to reduce
• Hard to know what you should be producing less of; fossil fuels are inputs to everything, so its hard to know what to cut back
• Thus the market is a discovery mechanism for finding out where costs truly lie --> planning
3) pollution is diffused
• concentration is irrelevant because the pollution is not concentrated
4) it can be effectively implemented
• pricing of some externalities is really hard since its hard to measure some externalities
• e.g. you can price noise but not externality of bad smell

BUT, when you switch over to pricing (A fine) you lose the moral quality of law (or deontic force)
What are subsidies?
A benefit given by the government to groups or individuals usually in the form of a cash payment or tax reduction. The subsidy is usually given to remove some type of burden and is often considered to be in the interest of the public.
what is the relevance of what Posner and Weisbach call "tort-like thinking" or corrective justice to the question of how the benefits and burdens of a CC accord should be allocated?
A tort, in common law jurisdictions, is a civil wrong[1] that unfairly causes someone else to suffer loss or harm resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act, called a tortfeasor.
Explain major points in "historical emissions" debate?
...
Arguments for equal per capita permit scheme?
...
Arguments AGAINST equal per capita permit scheme?
...
What is the social discount rate and why is it so important and controversial?
...
what is the precautionary principle?
An idea for the regulation of risk, basically it advocates "better safe than sorry".
The precautionary principle or precautionary approach to risk management states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is not harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an action.
According to Sustein, The principle threatens to be paralyzing, forbidding regulation, inaction, and every step in between. The precautionary principle is appealing due to loss aversion, the myth of benevolent nature, the availability heuristic, probability neglect, and systems neglect.
Stringent regulation (that the Principle calls for) would actually come in conflict with the precautionary principle because stringent regulation might well deprive society of significant benefits, and for that reason produce a large number of deaths that otherwise would not occur.
e.g. Risk of releasing faulty pharmaceutical drugs or further testing (and no drug for people)?
e.g. protection of marine mammals, or importance of military exercises?
e.g. genetically modified food or starvation?
What are the motivations for Caney's "human rights" approach to climate change?
.Climate change jeopardizes human rights and in particular the human rights to life, health, and subsistence (section II).
human rights approach has advantages over other ways of evaluating the impacts of climate change (prevents people from falling below a threshold of basic human rights).
Climate change jeopardizes three key human rights: the human right to life, the human right to health, and the human right to subsistence.
A human-rights approach generates duties of mitigation and duties of adaptation, and it also entails duties of compensation to those harmed by climate change.
why the cost benefit approach to CC sucks?
A human-rights analysis enjoys three related advantages over a CBA. These all stem from the fact that the latter aggregates the costs and ben-efits felt by individuals and then selects the policy that maximizes the good. It has long been recognized that one implication of this kind of aggregative consequentialist approach is that it could call for outcomes in which some suffer greatly but their disutility is outweighed by enormous benefits to others. Unlike a human- rights approach, a CBA has only a partial and contingent commitment to the basic interests and entitlements of the most vulnerable.
CBA concerned with total amount of utility; A human-rights appraoch will thus protect the vulnerable,
why the Security based approach sucks?
in the security oriented approach presented in the introduction, we find a similar problem but different reason. This, too, will generate only
a contingent and partial commitment to protecting the most vulnerable. It gives us reason
to be concerned about climate change only because, and to the extent that it results in violent conflict. It follows from this that in cases where climate change causes death, disease, malnutrition, and starvation but in which it does not in turn lead to conflict, it is silent
and would devote no resources to assist those threatened by dangerous climate change.
a human-rights rights will thus protect the vulnerable.
How is "human rights" approach to CC different from alternatives?
...
What does Ostrom mean by "polycentric" governance?
She argue that instead of focusing only on global efforts it is better to encourage polycentric efforts (small to medium scale) to reduce the risks associated with GHG emissions. Polycentric approaches facilitate achieving benefits at multiple scales as well as experimentation and learning from experience with diverse policies.

''Polycentric'' connotes many centers of decision making that are formally independent of each other.. . . To the extent that they take each other into account in competitive relationships, enter into various contractual and cooperative undertakings or have recourse to central mechanisms to resolve conflicts, the various political jurisdictions in a metropolitan area may function in a coherent manner with consistent and predictable patterns of interacting behaviour. To the extent that this is so, they may be said to function as a ''system''. Polycentric systems tend to enhance innovation, learning, adaptation, trustworthiness, levels of cooperation of participants, and the achievement of more effective, equitable, and sustainable outcomes at multiple scales