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Alexandra Butler21
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Group 1: Comment on "Casey_2008_Ecological_Economics" This paper implements a choice experiment model to measure the willingness to accept an increased risk in oil spills in indigenous communities in the Amazon. There is a general consensus among economists that poor communities only have direct use value for environments. The surveys in this experiment were meant to measure the non use value that indigenous populations attribute to their environment in the Amazon. We found some interesting and thought provoking results in this paper. To start, it is important to note that the community does not value monetary compensation as much as improved schools and health. This is particularly interesting, given that 62% of the surveyed population only received an elementary level education. Even though these people are not educated, they still place a high value on education. This also raises a few concerns, though, regarding how much knowledge the sample population has of the risks of an oil spill. It is possible that these people would only have a true understanding of the potential damages associated with oil spills if they had experienced one in the past. Furthermore, the average age of the sample is 41. We think that it would be interesting to do this same experiment with a younger generation. Would younger members of the community still place such a high value on education? If these younger men and women had not previously experienced the damage from an oil spill, would they be willing to accept a higher risk? Another interesting factor in this model is the reputation of the oil company, Petrobras. The corporation, which gives 1% of its profits directly to universities in Brazil, has a good reputation in the community. If the company had an unfavorable reputation, would the results be different? This would be another interesting variable to consider in future studies. One final question we have is whether or not the results from this paper could be universally applied. This study looks at a specific indigenous population. It could be very possible, though, that not all poor communities have non use values for the environment. Would the same results hold for a population in a woodland region or a coastal area? It would be interesting to study poor populations in urban areas. Are there any non use values for the environment in a setting where natural resources aren't as prevalent? Unlike communities in the Amazon, poor populations in cities do not have a strong day-to-day relationship with natural resources. They are not as dependent on the environment. We, then, wonder if poor communities surrounded by cities and skyscrapers would have any non use values for city parks, rivers, or clean air. If they still have a non use value, then it would provide further evidence that conventional assumptions of economists concerning poor communities and non use value would be false.
Toggle Commented Jan 31, 2014 on Forest Resources at Jolly Green General
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