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Nutrient Pollution: A Wicked Challenge for Economic Instruments

James Shortle () and Richard Horan
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James Shortle: Environment and Natural Resources Institute, College of Agricultural Sciences, Penn State University, USA

Water Economics and Policy (WEP), 2017, vol. 03, issue 02, 1-39

Abstract: Nutrient pollution is one of the most important problems facing aquatic systems globally. The problem qualifies as a wicked one, involving multiple pollutants from multiple sources interacting in complex ways over space and time along multiple pathways, with uncertainty present at each stage of the process—from pollutant generation to the final ecological and economic impacts. We draw on a diverse interdisciplinary literature to identify challenges for implementing efficient solutions using economic instruments, but also describe why economic research and concern for economic efficiency are of crucial importance to the selection of instruments to address the problem, and propose a general equilibrium economic geography paradigm for research on instrument design and choice.

Keywords: Multiple interacting pollutants; spatial externalities; stock externalities; lagged discharges; lagged ecosystem responses; stochastic pollution; deep uncertainty; socioeconomic-ecological landscapes; unintended consequences (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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DOI: 10.1142/S2382624X16500338

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