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A bottom-up institutional approach to cooperative governance of risky commons

In this paper three researchers present their findings about the most effective means to incentivize communal cooperation with a general focus on applications to limiting climate change. They found that the most effective way to increase cooperation in limiting negative behavior related to climate change is to have local institutions punish ‘free riders’, or those who do not pay a portion of the cost for the public good of a healthy climate.  This is in response to broad, long term climate agreements which punish on a global or national scale. These are often established at summits between representatives of entire countries, and were actually found to be detrimental to the goal of limiting climate change. They found that short-term, frequently reassessed goals are also more effective than long term goals. As climate change continues to progress and even accelerate such research is very important to the future of our world. It does not make sense to make steps towards a goal such as ending climate change if such steps are ineffective in achieving that goal.  Further research regarding the most effective ways to get a complicated global network to cooperate in limiting climate change as well as actual execution of such methods would certainly be a beneficial step towards achieving this goal.

In this paper the researchers model the climate change problem as a threshold public goods game. This is a more complicated extension of the elements of game theory discussed in class. This makes sense in modelling climate change for multiple reasons. For a player to make steps towards limiting climate change they take on personal costs, and without the majority of other players also taking such steps the cost receives no rewards (a cleaner climate). Free riders can also exist, who do not take on any costs but also receive any benefits gained by those who do pay costs. These rules also follow the economic definition of a public good,  something which benefits all members of a group regardless of whether or not they payed a portion of the cost of the good. By expanding on these definitions and introducing a more complicated method of modelling the climate change problem the researchers who published this paper use some methods of network studies  such as those described in class to arrive at the findings discussed in the previous paragraph.



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