Agriculture and natural-resource economics; wilderness management
Kyle Meng, Andrew Plantinga
Dissertation Title & Abstract
Social Efficiency of Natural Resource Management
Natural resources are essential to society, yet inefficiencies in their use are common, leaving potential for greater social benefits. This thesis explores contemporary issues in natural resource management, with an underlying theme of social efficiency. In Chapter 1, I develop a theory of climate change adaptation for dynamically evolving natural resources and apply it to the implications of warming ocean temperatures on global fishery harvests. I find the benefits of adaptation are surprisingly small, if absent of adaptation resource management is otherwise optimal. The findings suggest that exactly predicting and responding to future climate changes may be less important than other barriers to efficiency, such as open-access losses. In Chapter 2, I examine an institutional barrier to efficient use of fresh water resources. In the water-scarce Western United States, surface water resources are allocated hierarchically through a 19th century institution called prior appropriation. I pair daily administrative records of water allocations under prior appropriation with remotely-sensing irrigated crop outcomes to test if water is used efficiently in Colorado’s agricultural sector, and find evidence of unrealized gains from trade. Lastly, in Chapter 3, I estimate the economic value of reservoir storage, and compare its value to a planned infrastructure development project.
MS, Agricultural and Resource Economics, Colorado State University
BA, Economics and Political Science, University of Rhode Island