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CoMSES Challenge 2012

Tragedy of the commons

Idea A: to develop a micro-behaviours (MBs) and a guide where people interact with a resource and each other. 

The focus for MB development is to help students explore how sensitive systems are to sophisticated and varied human behaviour. I will develop MBs that can be used to model people influencing each other by for instance:
  1. Punishing neighbors/friends/colleagues that demonstrate free-loader activity (taking more from a patch than is equitable / agreed / acceptable). (See altruistic punishment: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v415/n6868/abs/415137a.html)
  2. Bribes to deflect punishment
  3. Status anxiety
  4. Using media e.g. news agencies pushing messages
What I really want to get at is that we should not model people and self-optimising rational agents. Our behaviours vary over time, are depending on the situation, we influence each other much more than we believe BUT that we do have the potential to avoid a tragedy of the commons.

Idea B: a related idea with a different focus would be to show how there are two opposing ways to avoid a tragedy of the commons (1) have an oppressive hierarchy where a few consume most of the available sustainable levels of resource AND so prevent access to the majority (2) resource is shared equitably. (The link to the phrase 'climate justice').

Elinor Ostrom: 

The model - common pool resources and individual behaviour

A model where we can clearly see how much individuals take from a finite common pool resource e.g. fish. The user can set reproduction rate of fish, and a distribution range around a mean quota level (which is calculated each tick based on the total number of fish). 

The agents can have a range of different behaviours e.g. 
  • likelihood will take more than quota
  • willingness to other agents that cheat
  • willingness to do other activities
  • willingness to contribute to social security

Classroom activity

  • start with model where everything is fine and dandy i.e. everyone takes just their quota
  • then introduce variation in take (the innovators take more)
  • change tax rate
  • then some agents move to tourism where fish are more valuable alive (e.g. snorkeling)
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