tidbits #35

In the news / New articles / Conference and seminar annoucements / Open positions

In the news:

  • Our focus on exotic and endangered species is biasing our knowledge of animal biology. While the authors suggest that we should study species in general and understand their adaptability better, there are additional thoughts: Of course, given the limited budget of researchers, one cannot study all species. So the focus tends to be on those that are the most threatened right now. But if the focus is also on the more exotic or big and nice ones, like the Panda instead of some smaller less cubby looking animal, then we may not be studying the most important animals for our biosystem. Also, we won’t know if there may be some thresholds for non-threatened species that subsequently lead to drastic impacts.
  • In Germany, the costs to take care of the nuclear plants and waste could reach 170 billion euros by 2099 – and those costs will only be covered to a small amount by the power utilities that own the nuclear plants
  • Fossil fuel tycoons support US presidential candidates with 310 million US dollars! Strangely enough, this didn’t make any of these candidates more appealing… And unsurprisingly, Republican candidates got nearly all of the money. Surprisingly, Trump didn’t get any money from these guys. Maybe they transferred it to the wrong account under the name of `D(r)ump(f)’. Or even the fossil fuel tycoons believe that he is unable to represent anyone’s interests, not even theirs…

New articles:

  • Environmental Pollution and Biodiversity: Light Pollution and Sea Turtles in the Caribbean, by Michael Brei, Agustin Perez-Barahona and Eric Strobl, forthcoming in Journal of Environmental Economics and Management

    We examine the impact of pollution on biodiversity by studying the effect of coastal light pollution on the sea turtle population in the Caribbean. To this end we assemble a panel data set of sea turtle nesting activity and satellite-derived measures of nighttime light. Controlling for the surveyor effort, the local economic infrastructure, and spatial spillovers, we find that nighttime light significantly reduces the number of sea turtle nests. According to data on replacement costs for sea turtles raised in captivity, our result suggests that the increase in lighting over the last two decades has resulted in the loss of close to 1,800 sea turtles in the Caribbean, worth up to $288 million. Incorporating our empirical estimates into a stage-structured population model, we discover that the dynamic effect of nighttime light on future generations of sea turtles is likely to be much larger, with a cost of approximately $2.8 billion for Guadeloupe alone. More generally, our study provides a new approach to valuing the cost of environmental pollution associated with species extinction.

  • The Management of Fragile Resources: A Long Term Perspective, by Jacov Tsur and Amos Zemel, forthcoming in Environmental and Resource Economics

    Excessive exploitation diminishes the capacity of natural resources to withstand environmental stress, increasing their vulnerability to extreme conditions that may trigger abrupt changes. The onset of such events depends on the coincidence of random environmental conditions and the resource state (determining its resilience). Examples include species extinction, ecosystem collapse, disease outburst and climate change induced calamities. The policy response to the catastrophic threat is measured in terms of its effect on the long-term behavior of the resource state. To that end, the L-methodology, developed originally to study autonomous systems, is extended to non-autonomous problems involving catastrophic threats.

Conference and seminar annoucements:

Open positions:

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