A Macroeconomic Model of Biodiversity Protection
David Martin
Davidson College, Davidson, NC, USA.
DOI: 10.4236/tel.2013.35A1006   PDF    HTML     7,369 Downloads   9,737 Views   Citations


Many biodiversity researchers have responded to the financial constraints faced by policy makers to develop models based upon the “Noah’s Ark” metaphor, implying that society can save only a limited amount of biodiversity. Unfortunately, as Herman Daly (Land Economics, 1991) pointed out, such microeconomic rules can allow an ark to sink albeit in some optimal fashion. So, I step back to look at the macroeconomic question, how big should the ark be? I start with Norgaard’s (Ecological Economics, 2010) framework, which is based upon the concept of a production possibility frontier combined with a sustainability criterion. I develop a model from that starting point by shifting to an isoquant framework while maintaining the strong sustainability criterion. I demonstrate how this model allows for identifying and addressing the key biodiversity protection policy criteria at the macroeconomic level. One key conclusion from this modeling is that Daly’s analysis remains remarkably prescient.

Share and Cite:

Martin, D. (2013) A Macroeconomic Model of Biodiversity Protection. Theoretical Economics Letters, 3, 39-44. doi: 10.4236/tel.2013.35A1006.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] H. M. Pereira, P. W. Leadley, V. Proenca, R. Alkemade, J. P. W. Scharlemann, J. F. Fernandez-Manjarrés, M. B. Araújo, P. Balvanera, R. Biggs, W. W. L. Cheung, L. Chini, H. D. Cooper, E. L. Gilman, S. Guénette, G. C. Hurtt, H. P. Huntington, G. M. Mace, T. Oberdorff, C. Revenga, P. Rodrigues, R. J. Scholes, U. R. Sumaila and M. Walpole, “Scenarios for Global Biodiversity in the 21st Century,” Science, Vol. 330, No. 6010, 2010, pp. 14961501. doi:10.1126/science.1196624
[2] Secretariat of the Convention on Biodiversity, “At United Nations Biodiversity Conference, Countries Agree to Double Resources for Biodiversity Protection by 2015,” United Nations Environment Programmè, Hyderabad, 2012.
[3] J. Lewandrowski, R. F. Darwin, M. Tsigas and A. Raneses, “Estimating Costs of Protecting Global Ecosystem Diversity,” Ecological Economics, Vol. 29, No. 1, 1999, pp. 111-125. doi:10.1016/S0921-8009(98)00058-5
[4] D. P. McCarthy, P. F. Donald, J. P. W. Scharlemann, G. M. Buchanan, A. Balmford, J. M. H. Green, L. A. Bennun, N. D. Burgess, L. D. C. Fishpool, S. T. Garnett, D. L. Leonard, R. F. Maloney, P. Morling, H. M. Schaefer, A. Symes, D. A. Wiedenfeld and S. H. M. Butchart, “Financial Costs of Meeting Global Biodiversity Conservation Targets: Current Spending and Unmet Needs,” Science, Vol. 338, No. 6109, 2012, pp. 946-949. doi:10.1126/science.1229803
[5] M. L. Weitzman, “The Noah’s Ark Problem,” Econometrica, Vol. 66, No. 6, 1998, pp. 1279-1298. doi:10.2307/2999617
[6] T. M. Brooks, R. A. Mittermeier, G. A. B. da Fonseca, J. Gerlach, M. Hoffmann, J. F. Lamoreux, C. G. Mittermeier, J. D. Pilgrim and A. S. L. Rodrigues, “Global Biodiversity Conservation Priorities,” Science, Vol. 313, No. 5783, 2006, pp. 58-61. doi:10.1126/science.1127609
[7] H. E. Daly, “Towards an Environmental Macroeconomics,” Land Economics, Vol. 67, No. 2, 1991, pp. 255-259. doi:10.2307/3146415
[8] R. B. Norgaard, “Ecosystem Services: From Eye-Opening Metaphor to Complexity Blinder,” Ecological Economics, Vol. 69, No. 6, 2010, pp. 1219-1227. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2009.11.009
[9] E. O. Wilson, “Introduction,” In: M. L. Reaka-Kudla, D. E. Wilson and E. O. Wilson, Eds., Biodiversity II: Understanding and Protecting our Biological Resources, John Henry Press, Washington, DC, 1996, pp. 1-3.
[10] S. Naeem, J. E. Duffy and E. Zavaleta, “The Functions of Biological Diversity in an Age of Extinction,” Science, Vol. 336, No. 6087, 2012, pp. 1401-1406. doi:10.1126/science.1215855
[11] B. J. Cardinale, J. E. Duffy, A. Gonzalez, D. U. Hooper, C. Perrings, P. Venail, A. Narwani, G. M. Mace, D. Tilman, D. A. Wardle, A. P. Kinzig, G. C. Daily, M. Loreau, J. B. Grace, A. Larigauderie, D. S. Srivastava and S. Naeem, “Biodiversity Loss and Its Impact on Humanity,” Nature, Vol. 486, No. 7401, 2012, pp. 59-67. doi:10.1038/nature11148
[12] B. Vira and W. M. Adams, “Ecosystem Services and Conservation Strategy: Beware the Silver Bullet,” Conservation Letters, Vol. 2, No. 4, 2009, pp. 158-162.
[13] R. Costanza and H. E. Daly, “Natural Capital and Sustainable Development,” Conservation Biology, Vol. 6, No. 1, 1992, pp. 37-46. doi:10.1046/j.1523-1739.1992.610037.x
[14] M. Akerman, “What Does ‘Natural Capital’ Do? The Role of Metaphor in Economic Understanding of the Environment,” Environmental Values, Vol. 12, No. 4, 2003, pp. 431-448. doi:10.3197/096327103129341397
[15] F. Figge, “Capital Substitutability and Weak Sustainability Revisited: The Conditions for Capital Substitution in the Presence of Risk,” Environmental Values, Vol. 14, No. 2, 2005, pp. 185-201. doi:10.3197/0963271054084966
[16] C. V. Ciriacy-Wantrup, “Resource Conservation: Economics and Policies,” University of California Division of Agricultural Sciences Agricultural Experiment Station, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1968.
[17] J. M. Buchanan and W. C. Stubblebine, “Externality,” Economica, Vol. 29, No. 116, 1962, pp. 371-384. doi:10.2307/2551386
[18] E. Ostrom, “Beyond Markets and States: Polycentric Governance of Complex Economic Systems,” American Economic Review, Vol. 100, No. 3, 2010, pp. 641-672. doi:10.1257/aer.100.3.641

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.