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The Multidimensional Sustainability Problem: An Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003. By Ed Miles & Ed Sarachik CIG SEMINAR, 4. 29.04. OUTLINE. I. FRAMING THE PROBLEM (incl. identifying objectives & a tentative timeline) A. Garrett Harding’s “Tragedy of the Commons”

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The multidimensional sustainability problem an interpretation of the science series fall 2003

The Multidimensional Sustainability Problem: An Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003


Ed Miles & Ed Sarachik

CIG SEMINAR, 4. 29.04

OUTLINE Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

  • I. FRAMING THE PROBLEM (incl. identifying objectives & a tentative timeline)

    A. Garrett Harding’s “Tragedy of the Commons”

    B. Defining Sustainability


    D. The ECONOMIST, July 6, 2002

    E. The SCIENCE Series

    II. Elaborating Alternative Strategies

Outline cont d
OUTLINE,cont’d. Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

III. Significant Issues not Included

IV. Implications for the CIG: Climate in a World of Multiple Stresses

I framing the problem
I. Framing the Problem Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

The “commons” (especially due to population) cannot be sustained at the global scale.

  • Neither by Rationality (e.g. the Invisible Hand of Adam Smith),

  • Nor by Conscience,

  • Nor by Ethics (e.g. the “Lifeboat” parable).

    It can only be saved bycoercion mutually agreed upon.

B defining sustainability
B. Defining Sustainability Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

  • The Brundtland Commission (1987):

    Sustainable Development (SD)= Development which does not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs. [Emphasis was on spp. conservation].

    Definition operationalized in 1992 Rio Convention on Biodiversity.

Definitions cont d
Definitions, cont’d. Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

  • Repetto. 1986. WORLD ENOUGH AND TIME:

  • Future economic growth must emulate natural productivity:

    • recycling materials & energy;

    • reducing waste generation & use of virgin materials per unit output;

    • substitution of more abundant for scarcer materials;

    • greater concern for future imps. of current econ. policies;

    • living off dividend of resources while maintaining & improving the asset base.

Repetto cont d
Repetto, cont’d. Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

  • Above does not necessarily imply preservation of current stock of natural resources or any particular mix of human, physical, & natural assets. Asset base will change with time.

Definitions cont d1
Definitions, cont’d. Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

  • Solow. 1991. 18th J. Seward Johnson Lecture, WHOI.

  • Interpret SD as obligation to leave to future generations option or capacity to be as well off as we are ( italics added). Take into account resources we use up & resources left behind, plus quality of the environment natural & man-made, inclu. productive capacity & technological knowledge.

Solow cont d
Solow, cont’d. Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

  • Think about substitutability of goods & services because we need to leave behind generalized capacity to create well-being.

  • Confront issues of distributional equity, present & future.

Nrc 1999 our common journey
NRC. 1999. OUR COMMON JOURNEY Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

  • SD= reconciling society’s developmental goals with the planet’s environmental limits over the long term.

  • Consider that current projections envisge world pop. reaching 9 billion by 2050 & leveling off to 10-11 billion by 2100= double present pop.

multiple causation Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

multiple causation

Summarizing the Sustainability Problematique(based on Our Common Journey)

  • Derivatives(and consequences for)

  • Climate change impacts

  • Air pollution

  • Urban sprawl

  • Impacts on water supply, quantity, and quality

  • Ecosystem effects

  • Toxins

  • Outcomes

  • Decline of natural ecosystems

  • Loss of biodiversity

  • Loss of ecosystem services

  • Increased vulnerability for natural and human systems in a world of multiple stresses

  • Environmental impacts on human health

  • Drivers

  • Population

  • Energy consumption

  • Land use/land cover change

  • Economic growth, including technological advance

  • Market failure

  • Government policies

  • Social preferences

Nrc 1999 cont d
NRC 1999, cont’d. Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

  • Most serious environmental threats are those that affect ability of multiple sectors of society to move ahead toward goals of sustainability;have cumulative or delayed consequences, with effects over long time scale; are irreversible or difficult to change; or have notable potential to interact with each other to damage earth’s life support systems.

    Hazard rankings= water & air pollution; ozone depletion & climate change; & for LDCs, droughts/floods, disease epidemics, & availability of local living resources.

The economist july 6 2002
The ECONOMIST, July 6, 2002. Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

  • SD cuts to heart of man’s relationship with nature--”… the great race between development & degradation”.

  • Need to decide what we owe future generations vis-à-vis what we owe to the poorest among us today. Accepts Solow definition. Focus on substitutability of natural resources.

Economist 2002 cont d
ECONOMIST, 2002, cont’d Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

  • Grand aspirations of Rio Summit, 6/92, falling flat. Whatever progress due to 3 factors:

    • More d-m at local level

    • Tech. innovation

    • Rise of market forces in envir. matters. Economists now generally accepting need to value natural capital along with ecological services. How substitute natural capital with man-made & specific forms of natural for one another?

Economist 2002 cont d1
ECONOMIST, 2002 cont’d. Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

  • What is true state of planet?

  • Rapid spread of industrialization over last 100yr. urbanization,motorization, & electrification.

  • Inverse relationship between magnitude of anthropogenic footprint (all dimensions) & health & diversity of biosphere.

Economist 2002 cont d2
ECONOMIST, 2002 cont’d. Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

  • However, data to assess true state of planet not available. General trends evident, but what truly sustainable?

  • Can’t tell because no systematic global monitoring, therefore little data. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment a start.

  • Will return to monitoring issue.

Science series fall 2003
SCIENCE Series, Fall 2003 Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

  • Joel Cohen--Population Next 50 Yrs:

    • World pop. doubling in last 40 yrs. Rapid growth shifting from Europe & Americas (1750-1950) to Africa, Middle East, & Asia.

    • Between 1965-1970 global growth rate peaked @ 2.1%/yr.; total fertility rate falling from 5 children per woman to 2.7; absolute annual increase in global human pop. peaked c. 1990 @ 86m. To 77m in 2003.

    • 1900--no cities had >10m.;1950=1(NYC); 2000= 19, but only 4 in AICs--Tokyo, Osaka, NYC, LA. Projected to 2050=32, most in Asia & on coast.

    • > 50% of current annual increase in India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, & U.S. (only 4%).

Cohen population cont d
Cohen. Population, cont’d. Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

  • 2000 av. global pop. density= 45/km2. Projected to 2050= 66/km2. Globally, only c. 10% land arable, so pop. densities c. 10X higher.

  • Pop. densities in AICs= 23/km2 & not rising; poor countries 2000=59/km2 ; projected to 2050= 93/km2 with effects on pop. size & age structure, pressures on nat. envir., & on migration.

  • >50% human pop. will live in cities for first time in history by 2050. 20th century last in which younger people outnumbering older people.

Jenkins prospects for biodiversity
Jenkins. Prospects for Biodiversity Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

  • Habitat conversion, exploitation of wild resources, impacts of introduced spp. loss of biodiversity. High regional variation in rates & magnitudes. Variation also across biomes.

  • Most new conversion of land to agriculture in South America & sub-Saharan Africa. >50% of suitable unused cropland in only 7 countries: Angola, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dem. Rep. Congo, & Sudan.

  • Much converted land continuing to fragment & reduce tropical forests consequences for global warming as well as biodiversity. Adverse impacts on freshwater as well as marine resources.

  • Pops. of wild spp. surviving largely in heavily managed & protected areas. Most damage to biodiversity in densely pop. parts of Tropics.

Stocking tropical soils food security
Stocking. Tropical Soils & Food Security Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

  • In most agro-ecosystems, declining crop yield exponentially related to loss of soil quality. Currently c. 1/6 of global pop. w/o. food security--sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, Central Asia.

  • Soil quality function of many things and complex, dynamic system--storage of organic C, health of microbial communities, depth & rooting, water capacity, salinity & sodicity, aluminum toxicity, acidification, etc.

  • Above linked to societal effects via effects of declining soil quality on production, rationality, & private benefits of farmers’ investments in soil conservation.

Pauly et al the future for fisheries
Pauly et al. The Future for Fisheries Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

  • World fish landings not increasing but declining at rate of c. 500kmt/yr. from peak of c. 80-85mmt in late 1980s.Causes= overfishing, habitat degradation, bycatch discards (c. 30% of total), & IUU fishing.

  • Can extrapolate continued depletion for demersals to 2050. [ELM-pelagics more complicated, coastal vs. high seas].

  • Large-scale commercial fishing in face of decline dependent on both gov’t. subsidies & abundant fossil fuels. [So future also linked to mitigation actions re GW problem].

Pauly et al cont d
Pauly et al., cont’d. Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

  • Scenario projections for future dependent on type of institutional controls chosen for mgmt.:

  • Markets first-- maximize long term econ. rent reduction of c. 50% present effort.

  • Security first continued subsidies & “fishing down the food chain”.

  • Policy first = deliberate attempts at ecosystem mgmt. to balance equity & envir. concerns. Results similar to markets first strategy.

  • Sustainability first--value shift req’d. [“Save the fish, not the fishery” Francis & Mantua]. Create networks of marine reserves, rebuild pops.,reduce current effort 20-30% & redistribute it across trophic levels from large top predators to small prey.

Gleick freshwater resources
Gleick. Freshwater Resources Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

  • Emphasis on soft path solutions & away from dams, aqueducts, & pipelines. Most serious unresolved global water problem is continued failure to meet basic human needs for water:

  • 1b people lack access to safe drinking water; 2.4b lack access to adequate sanitation services;hundreds of millions of cases of water related diseases & 2.5m deaths per year.

  • Int’l support for water projects of all kinds declining. Econ., social, & environmental costs of hard path growing to point where total withdrawals began to slow in 1970s-1980s.

  • Need a soft path--combine current hard path infrastructure with small scale decentralized facilities. Increase productivity of water use rather than seeking endless sources of new supply. Use markets & pricing & include local communities in d-m.

Chow et al energy
Chow et al. ENERGY Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

  • Proved reserves= Coal ~ 1 trillion mt = 20k EJ= 1018 joules=9.48x1014 Btus; Oil > 1 trillion barrels = 6,100 EJ; Nat. Gas= >150 trillion m3 = 5,900 EJ; Uranium = >3mmt = 250,000 EJ.

  • Current consumption (2000) = Coal = ~ 5bmt= 0.5% reserves;

  • Oil c. 3% reserves; Nat. Gas 1.6% reserves; U238 2% reserves for electricity generation. So the world is not running out of mineral fuels!!

  • Large fossil fuel reserves concentrated in small no. of countries. Half of low income countries & >1/3 of middle income countries have no fossil fuel reserves.

  • Total world energy use >370 EJ = 350 quadrillion Btus, 95% from fossil fuels ( 44% petroleum; 26% nat. gas.; 25% coal; 2.5% hydro.;2.4% nuclear; 0.2% non-hydro renewables).

Chow et al energy cont d
Chow et al. ENERGY, cont’d. Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

  • End applications = industry, transportation, agriculture, commercial & public services, & residential use. LDCs use most in residential sector followed by industry & transportation. AICs use most in transportation followed by industrial & residential. Very large disparities in per capita use, range is 3-14X depending on sector. Middle income countries use 4X more than low income countries.

  • All energy systems come with envir. costs but fossil fuels come with extremely high envir. costs. Expectation that envir. costs of fossil., hydro., & nuclear energy likely to drive world to alternative sources before scarcity becomes a problem.

  • Transition to more benign energy systems will involve heterogeneous portfolio of renewable primary sources. Gov’t. programs combining regulation with incentives are powerful drivers of tech. innovation. For next 25-50 yrs. cost differentials will ensure dominance of fossil fuels.

Akimoto global air quality pollution
Akimoto. Global Air Quality & Pollution Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

  • Global air quality issues relate only to pollutants whose atmos. lifetimes long enough to be transported to another continent (~1 wk. ). Hemispheric transport timescale ~ 1 mth.

  • Currently, significant problems with O3, CO, aerosols, NOX, SO2, etc. Megacities exacerbate air pollution probs. globally & problem will increase significantly. Need to integrate air pollution problem into GCC complex.

  • [I’m skipping articles that treat the GCC problem].

Ii elaborating alternative strategies
II. Elaborating Alternative Strategies Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

  • On basis of above, this a problem of planetary scale with feedbacks. How reduce the long term threat?

  • NRC 1999 says problem too large, complex, & difficult to set a steady course. Proceed adaptively with planning horizons of 2 generations at a time (c. 50 yrs.). Think about humans in & aggravating a world of multiple stresses. Rec. goals= 1. Meet needs of much larger but stabilizing pop.; 2. Sustain life support systems of planet; 3. Substantially reduce hunger & poverty.

  • ELM says global regulation unlikely to be effective response. Why? See following.

Scale i global what do we know about the policy dynamics of long time scale environmental problems
SCALE I: GLOBAL Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003What Do We Know About the Policy Dynamics of Long Time Scale Environmental Problems?

  • Distinguish between malign & benign problems.

  • Malign problems characterized by incongruity, where the cost-benefit calculus of individuals systematically biased in favor of either costs or benefits of particular courses of action.

  • Incongruities caused by either externalities or competition. Latter far more difficult to deal with politically.

  • Long time scale = decades to millennia.

Uncertainty international regime building
Uncertainty & International Regime Building Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

  • Uncertainty about seriousness & causes of a problem & malign configuration of actor interests are separately major hurdles in international regime building. In combination, results often lethal.

  • Global climate change the ultimate collective action problem.

The law of the least ambitious program
The Law of the Least Ambitious Program Interpretation of the SCIENCE Series: Fall 2003

  • In global lawmaking conferences, decision rules stack the deck in favor of the least ambitious party. Tendency guarantees minimalist response.

Conditions under which international system responds effectively to global environmental problems
Conditions Under which International System Responds Effectively to Global Environmental Problems

  • Available evidence suggests two conditions: a). Disaster; b). Consensus that disaster on significant scale highly probable in short run.

  • So system propensity to respond is hyperdependent on rate of envir. change & immediacy of perceived effects.

Strategies cont d
Strategies, cont’d. Effectively to Global Environmental Problems

  • NRC. 1999: Look for limits beyond which natural systems should not be pushed.

  • Pay attention to “critical loads”  threshold effects [significant non-linearities].

  • Search for transitions or breaks in trends.

  • Change consumption patterns of energy & materials.

  • Provide incentives for tech. innovation.

  • Pay attention to institutional design.

  • Need valid indicator systems for monitoring change.

  • Develop assessment tools.

Science 12 december 2003 dietz ostrom stern the struggle to govern the commons
SCIENCE, 12 December 2003. Dietz, Ostrom, & Stern. “The Struggle to Govern the Commons”

  • Hardin assuming only two kinds of institutional arrangements could sustain the commons--centralized gov’t. or private property. But these not the only approaches to governance. New knowledge developing out of work with small scale ecologies & institutions. Ostrom et al.

  • Effective commons governance easier when resources & use by humans monitored & info. verified & understood @ relatively low cost.

  • When rates of change in resources, resource-user pops., tech., & socioecon. conditions moderate.

  • When communities maintain frequent face-to-face commun. & dense social networks incresing trust & transparency.

Dietz et al cont d
Dietz et al., cont’d. Struggle to Govern the Commons”

  • Current challenges either inherently global (GCC) or tightly linked to global pressures, e.g., commodities, like timber, traded in global market but requiring governance at all scales from local to global.

  • Problem that envir. outcomes often spatially displaced from causes & affected by hard to monitor, larger scale econ. incentives not closely aligned with condition of local ecosystems.

  • No silver bullets available--no single type of ownership, whether gov’t’l., private, or community, uniformly succeeds or fails to halt major resource deterioration.

Dietz et al. Requirements for developing approaches to adaptive governance of complex governance: Scaling up & down

  • Envir. governance requires good, trust worthy info. about stocks, flows, & processes re the resource systems being governed & about human-envir. interactions affecting those systems. Info. must be congruent in scale with envir. events & decisions.

  • Info. must also be congruent with d-m needs re timing, content & form of presentation. Do not overload the capacity of users to assimilate the info. provided.

  • Need not only info. re biogeophysical processes & dynamics, but need also info. about human utilization & effects, about uncertainty & values. Characterize for d-ms types & magnitudes of uncertainty as well as nature & extent of scientific ignorance & disagreement

  • All envir. d-m requires trade-offs, so info. req’d. re individual & social values & effects of decisions on valued outcomes. This a major challenge.

  • Conflict inherent in envir. choices given sharp diffs. In power & values across interested parties at different scales. Experiment with different approaches to conflict resolution. One size does not fit all.

Dietz et al cont d1
Dietz et al., cont’d. adaptive governance of complex governance: Scaling up & down

  • Re inducing rule compliance, best to start with modest sanctions on first offenders & gradually increase severity of penalties. Command & control systems often don’t work. Need more nuanced approaches re combination of formal & informal systems.

  • Financial incentives very important. Lot of evidence that tradable environmental allowances (TEAs) very effective but not a panacea. They leave unprotected resources not covered by trading rules & these resources suffer when monitoring difficult. How allowances initially allocated may sometimes give disproportionate power to historic users. Best to combine TEAs with community-based systems (co-management).

Dietz et al cont d2
Dietz et al., cont’d. adaptive governance of complex governance: Scaling up & down

  • Physical & tech. infrastructure very important because they determine degree to which commons can be exploited, extent to which waste can be reduced, & degree to which resource conditions & human behavior can be monitored. Also important re choices of institutional design--infrastructure links local commons to regional & global systems.

  • Design institutions to adapt to change. Fixed rules are doomed to fail. Some current understanding wrong, required scale of org. can shift, & biophysical & social systems change.

  • Institutions that guard against low probability, high consequence possibilities & allow for change may be sub-optimal in short run but wiser in long run. (Italics added).

Dietz et al cont d3
Dietz et al., cont’d. adaptive governance of complex governance: Scaling up & down

  • Foster well-structured dialogues between scientists, resource users, & interested publics informed by reliable info. re envir. & human-envir. interactions.

  • Seek to design & emplace wide variety of complex institutional arrangements that provide for redundancy but that are nested to respond to cross-scale dynamics.

Dietz et al cont d4
Dietz et al.,cont’d. adaptive governance of complex governance: Scaling up & down

  • When outsiders excluded at low cost from using the resource.

  • And when users support effective monitoring & rule enforcement.

  • Few settings in real world characterized by all these conditions, so challenge is to understand how can achieve effective governance in absence of ideal conditions.

Source: Dietz, T., E. Ostrom, P.C. Stern. 2003. The Struggle to Govern the Commons. Science 302: 1907-1912.

Iii significant issues not included in science series
III. Significant Issues Not Included in SCIENCE Series to Govern the Commons. Science 302: 1907-1912.

  • Observations and Monitoring and their Role in Sustainability

    What’s needed depends on scale:

    • Global: A Monitoring and Analysis capability is needed.

    • Local: Climate data records may be enough.

Significant issues cont d
Significant Issues (cont’d) to Govern the Commons. Science 302: 1907-1912.

  • Monitoring:

    • Serves as lubricant for agreements:

      • Trust, mutual action, investment

    • Serves as basis for indicators of change (if and only if the observations can be turned into analyses—usually means its part of a predictions system)

      • Is the basis for evaluation of agreements

      • Can only be done by operational entities

      • Can only be sustained by production of useful products

Iii implications for the cig climate in a world of multiple stresses
III. Implications for the CIG: Climate in a World of Multiple Stresses

  • NAS Priorities

  • How NAS views the CIG

  • The Monitoring Problem

  • Cross Scale Dynamics

  • The HD Emphasis on Institutional Design & Dynamics

  • Need for More Focused Effort on Identifying & Evaluating Policy Options

  • Need for Greater Emphasis on Communicating Uncertainties

  • Expanding Dialog with Stakeholders

  • Other Points