Pacific Coast Environmental Metrics
"Specializing in measuring intangibles."
Zero Waste Planet
Common Pool Resources
Frequently Asked Questions
metrics [at] pcem.ca
Why is your web site so plain?
It reflects my philosophy. I did not hire an expensive web-page designer to craft a slick and attractive web site. In turn, I do not have to charge you more to recover my investment. Consider the business that invests heavily in machinery. That business must always find consumers for their product, because they have a high financial burden to meet. That business is less resilient to economic hardship, even if it grew rapidly during economic prosperity. The moral is "Don't dissipate your rents."
Do you have a certificate/degree in this field?
Which field would that be? The economists generally will not recognize that people will maximize collective interests, and the environmentalists generally ignore the mathematics of Nature. The environmental economists seem to want to measure everything in dollar values, even though it is clearly impossible to measure everything in such tangible terms. I have a B.Sc. in Physics, from the University of South Carolina. Physics is the study of the mathematics used by Nature, from the statistical distribution of particles in a box that reflects temperature (thermodynamics) to the use of complex numbers that are found in electrical circuits and leaf patterns (fractals). That background has allowed me to understand the mathematical structures that need to be followed for successful collective management ("co-management" or "collective action"). My wide background overall has allowed me to see many very disparate types of "systems" and discern successful approaches to problem solving. There are no Certificates in Occam's Razor Studies, but these would beat a Ph.D. in Theoretical Rube Goldberg any day.
Can't we just figure this stuff out for ourselves?
Almost certainly. Study Elinor Ostrom and a lot of related material on collective action. Then study quantum game theory, particularly Badredine Arfi's work, to understand the linkages and how participants can behave when allowable actions are described by a criteria rather than specified. Study 5-step management plans and also Jim Crawford's work in documenting evolutionary growth in successful systems. I don't hide where I gained my knowledge, and I share it fully with clients. Educated clients are happy clients and make good decisions. That's the point - I will teach you how to figure out how to solve your problems.
Do you tell us how much can be harvested or extracted from our common pool resource?
Nope. In many cases I wouldn't even recommend a number. Instead, I'll recommend putting limits on extraction methods and length of extraction periods. Then I'll show you how to work within your group to determine if these limits need to be adjusted, based on your assessment. One of the major mistakes made in environmental management is the belief that Nature responds to events in a linear fashion. By linear I mean that the outcome is a multiple of the loss, as in the loss of one tree will result in the loss of one habitat, the loss of one habitat will result in the loss of two occupants, and so on. This isn't how Nature works. Nature is highly "non-linear," meaning that the outcome is exponentially related to the loss. That non-linear behavior can have both small and large responses to small perturbations. Much of the time the localized perturbations can't be seen, but the system reflects the aggregate. Sometimes there is dampening, but sometimes there is sudden change from otherwise small events. Instead of worrying about the specifics of volumes, worry about the perturbation caused by the extraction itself.
For example, there is an article titled "The Fallacy of the Superfluous Male," in which the authors make a great argument about choices for harvesting not the largest and most dominant members of the species and ecosystem, but rather, harvest the smaller, less dominant members. An "alpha" male rose to that position through superior characteristics. Removing that alpha male allows less dominant males to procreate, which weakens the species. In hunting, take from the "Bachelors" group, not the stag with the full harem. In the forest, take from the shorter trees and leave the giants alone.
"Quantum game theory?" Are you serious?
Unfortunately, the extensions to game theory that I examine have a moniker that conjures up images of mysticism and bizarre behaviors. In reality, the extensions simply redefine ways to model games, and the decisions made in those games. The mathematics use techniques that qualitatively are very similar to what we see on the ground in managing common pool resources. Outcomes are "entangled" and actions occur in a state of "superposition." These are reflected in degrees of a cosine argument and the use of tensor algebra, which creates matrices with elements that are matrices. Quantum game theory makes predictions above and beyond outcomes predicted by classic game theory, while still agreeing with classic game theory under classic conditions. However, classic game theory clearly limits player actions through externalities and has to resort to "norms" (deltas) to explain unexpected outcomes. QGT doesn't need to.
Do I think that quantum game theory means that there is some "spooky action at a distance" that will magically make everyone overcome social dilemmas? No.
Do I think that quantum game theory's mathematics offer a description of collective action that refutes classic game theory's determined outcome of self-maximizing individuals? Yes. Absolutely.