Notes from Jackie's Midterm Review

Memorize the main gist of all the key readings, with emphasis on those referenced/discussed in lecture


  • Impact = population x affluence a.k.a. GDP (x consumption) x technology
  • differential version (change): ∆Im = ∆P + ∆A (+ ∆C) + ∆T
    • Kaya identity is CO2 version: ∆CO2 = ∆P + ∆A (+ ∆C) + ∆T


  • three features
    • appropriate scale (what?)
    • systems thinking (for whom?)
    • long-term, i.e. intergenerational/indefinite (for how long?)
  • practice coming up with examples of what's NOT sustainable (recycling, Clean Air Act, mining, etc.)
  • Meadows says focusing on solving/alleviating problems isn’t enough; we need to think about what the big picture and long term should look like

Decision-Making (Rational and Relational Actors)

see below (Markets)

Collective Action: (Multi-)Prisoners Dilemma

  • essence of problem: non-cooperation is individually rational (great vs good/bad vs terrible) but collectively sub-optimal (bad/bad)
  • free-rider problem: if everyone cooperates, everyone’s benefit goes down negligibly if one person defects, to huge benefit to that one person; so actually everyone has an incentive to behave like that one person
    • by corollary, any one person can’t much change the collective outcome
    • Runge points out that free-rider can only go so far before system breaks down

Strategic Interaction (bargaining)


  • valuing the same thing
  • within the bargaining zone (ZOPA), zero-sum game
  • boundaries of bargaining zone are best alternative to agreement (BATNA)


  • valuing different things
  • looking for ways for each to get more of what they value (not zero-sum)
    • ex. land boundaries: all water/all forest vs. some of each


Know the case studies: huertas (Ostrom), World Commission on Dams (WCD, Cushing), Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM, Conca)

Note: some of these we filled in during a study session and aren't from Jackie

IWRM WCD Huertas
Actors diplomats, water professionals, NGOs (but NOT governments) experts, academics irrigators (and syndics)
Issue Area water (ecological, practical, etc uses) different aspects of water rights (global) irrigation (local)
Rules & Procedures conferences, journals, committee meetings, meetings with stakeholders/policymakers similar to IWRM: meetings, conferences, reports court system (tribunal), turno system, ditch riders
Norms multiple scales of management, integrated planning, thinking holistically about different roles & aspects of water (ecological, social) similar to IWRM: multiple scales, holistic/systems approach, provide forum for traditionally excluded voices social responsibility, take only the water you need
Principles should value livelihoods and watershed health; should cooperate at several levels should have input from all affected parties, consider impact and alternatives before building dams shouldn’t waste water
Nested Layers individual experts, NGOs (universities, think tanks, etc), coalitions (?), committees, whole IWRM individual experts and affected people, NGOs and interest groups, coalitions (?), committees, WCD farmer, syndic, executive committee, tribunal, coordinating committee

Dietz, Ostom et al. emphasized need for complex, redundant institutions (accommodates different kinds of behavior and needs)


Quick review of rational-actor in supply-demand economics: buying wine & cheese for a party


  • want as much as possible (in most circumstances), but
  • are subject to a budget constraint, and
  • have preferences when trading off between goods

consumer optimization curves, demand curves review

  • budget curve, indifference curve (marginal rate of substitution MRS)
  • demand curve, willing-to-pay price, consumer surplus

Now consider relational actor vs. rational actor again, in the wine & cheese scenario:

rational relational
unit of analysis choice (wine/cheese qty) relationships (w/neighbors)
goal orientation value maximization integration (a good time)
time orientation one-shot (1 trip to store) ongoing (party series)

[Q: so how does a relational actor perspective shift consumer optimization curves and demand curves? Does it just get more bent at extremes, and doesn’t extend as far to the upper right? Or is the whole model of optimization not really valid?]

going back to rational actor:


  • nothing below cost
  • each unit has marginal cost and marginal revenue
  • objective: profit = total revenue (sum of marginal revenue) – total cost (sum of marginal cost)

Label your axes! (P vertical, Q horizontal) and give your graphs a title!

Supply & Demand

  • consumer surplus (area above equilibrium price up to demand curve)
  • producer surplus (area below equilibrium price down to supply curve)
  • dead weight loss (area in consumer & producer surplus lost at particular non-equilibrium quantity)