I’m now 4 months into a project at UC Davis on the sustainable sourcing of agricultural raw materials.  Heading to D.C. next week to meet with stakeholders to get feedback on our approach.  Getting deep into data work and GIS tools, and heading toward some potential for modeling work.  Stay tuned!

In June, I will be presenting work based on my dissertation research at two conferences.  The first is the International Society for Industrial Ecology conference “Science, Systems, and Sustainability” at UC Berkeley for the second week of June.  The second is the 19th International Input-Output Association conference in Alexandria, Virginia for the third week of June.  In Berkeley I will be discussing the treatment of water as a component of global geophysical and economic models.  In Virginia I will be discussing the challenges of maintaining a consistent input output database when adapting it for scenario analysis using economic and physical data from multiple sources.

This summer, I’ll be presenting a paper at the bi-annual conference of the International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE) in Bremen, Germany.  I will also be contributing to a paper that will be presented at the International Input-Output Association (IIOA) conference in Sydney, Australia in June.  Below is information about my submission to the ISEE, and for more info on the conference http://www.isee2010.org/.  For information on the IIOA conference go to http://www.iioa.org/conferences-18th.html


Population Growth, Increasing Affluence, and Adequacy of Food Supply


Faye Duchin and Nat Springer

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY

Subject / Theme

Long Presentation
Topics: Land Use, Ecology, Sustainable Development
Keywords: Agriculture, Input-Output, Diets, Water


Growing populations and increasing affluence in Asia and other parts of the world economy will require substantial increases in production and in resource availability. In this paper we focus on the increases in arable land, fresh water, phosphates, capital and labor that will be required to feed the populations anticipated for 2050. A set of scenarios explores the implications of changes in diets and in agricultural technologies for production and trade in agricultural products, the prices of these products, and scarcity rents on factor inputs.

A large number of studies have generated estimates of changes in trade and product prices from within a general equilibrium framework. Alternatively, this analysis builds on previous research on agriculture using the World Trade Model (WTM), a multi-regional input-output model that determines production, trade and prices to satisfy given final demand by minimizing factor use subject to limited factor endowments. An earlier study of the future food supply applied the WTM to a database with about a dozen regions and a dozen sectors and focused mainly on availability of different qualities of land (Julia and Duchin, 2007). The present study will make use of the new EXIOPOL database, an environmentally-extended input-output database of the world economy with several dozen regions, over a hundred sectors, and explicit representation of water for irrigation and of phosphates for fertilizer, two factors that are widely anticipated to be in increasingly limited supply by 2050. It also makes use of a model extension to track an average unit of a scarce resource, such as fresh water, from a region where it is extracted through its chain of intermediate uses to those regions where it is embodied in consumer products.

Julia, R. and F. Duchin. 2007. “World Trade as the Adjustment Mechanism of Agriculture to Climate Change.” Climatic Change, 82(3-4): 393-409 (June).

In the beginning there was something.  In fact, there was everything.  For something entirely different and special to arise, there must be something old, common, and ordinary from which it grows.  An opposite, a completely different type of existence, on which, once forgone for the new, makes absolutely no sense.  Gravity repels.  Atoms, no longer random appearances of miniscule electrons, are predictable flows of filled mass.  Stars suck energy from the now teeming vastness of space.  Babies give birth to mothers, mortals rule over gods, and reason leads philosphopers to disconnected and concrete realities.  All this is impossible.  But that is exactly how it is in the beginning.  Random writings on napkins and scattered notebooks, stylistic tendencies and grammatical understandings formulated, coffee addtiction potentialities statistically favorable, and thousands upon thousands of stories melted into the mythological epic of an author’s brain.  But it is the beginning.  A step is made, the present is realized, and all previous steps are amalgamated into one giant black and white film reel, mixed up and played out of sequence according to the physical memory stimuli of the surrounding world.  The pile of books, the mess on the floor, the half drunk cup of cream and fair trade Columbian are all just there, existing in the beginning as an anomoly, a piece of life that just is.  And it starts.  The writing.  The pure, intentional, conscious, and beautiful writing.  Writing not for school, truth, or ego.  Just writing.  All that existed culminates upon this moment, this scene, this state of being.  The unmade bed with comforter tangled from last night’s twisting, sheets lost down the side of the mattress, only one of two pillows with a cover.   The Mexican gourd, a hollowed omniescence reflecting reality to the brain’s eye.  The guitar with liberal protest stickers.  The personal computer of privledged society.  The dirty clothes that mingle about the wardrobe among the half-folded, wrinkle-hanging clean ones.  The silence that accentuates the rattle of the table as the pen scribbles these words.  This is how it was in the beginning.  It just was.  Now the reality that could never have existed will take form.  I will fly.
January, 2006

I’ll be presenting a paper at the bi-annual conference of the United States Society for Ecological Economics is this coming May in Washington, D.C.  Below is an abstract of the paper, and for more info on the conference visit http://www.ussee.org/conference09/.


The Hartwick Rule: An Ecological Economic Perspective

Subject / Theme

2.1 Ecological economic theory – advances and applications


The usefulness of a discourse about a paper thirty-two years past is as relevant as its idea’s continuing influence; by this measure, a discussion of the theory and application of the Hartwick rule is more than justifiable. Building on works by Dasgupta and Heal (1974) and Solow (1974), Hartwick (1977) proposed a simple criterion for intergenerational equity: reinvest rents from nonrenewable resources in manufactured capital. Hartwick’s assumptions, calculations, and results have been analyzed, critiqued, redeveloped, reanalyzed, and recritiqued in subsequent years. The first section of the paper tracks this historical development, both the rule’s maturation and its subsequent backlash. Particularly, however, this paper continues this backlash by drawing a bridge from the genuine savings literature to recent discussions on the role of uncertainty in economic global warming models and long-term cost-benefit analysis (see Dasgupta, 2007; Tol, 2003; or Weitzman, 2007).

Yet in spite of these critiques, the second section shows that the theory proposed by Hartwick can still have a beneficial effect on policy decisions to this day. The theory and critiques from the first section are used to discuss how ecological economists can still utilize the Hartwick rule while also emphasizing the areas of continuing research that are fruitful and the areas of continuing research that are red herrings, particularly by pointing to the distinction between energy producing capital and energy consuming capital. This final section also presents empirical case studies to help illustrate this point.

Dasgupta, P. S. and G. M. Heal. 1974. “The optimal depletion of exhaustible resources.” Review of Economic Studies 41 (Symposium issue). 3–28.

Dasgupta, P. 2008. “Discounting Climate Change.” Journal of Risk and Uncertainty. In Press, 10.1007/s11166-008-9049-6.

Hartwick, J. 1977. “Intergenerational Equity and the Investing of Rents from Exhaustible Resources.” The American Economic Review. Vol. 67, No.5, 972-974.

Solow, R. M. 1974. “Intergenerational Equity and Exhaustible Resources.” Review of Economic Studies (Symposium). 29-46.

Tol, R. S. J. 2003. “Is the Uncertainty About Climate Change Too Large for Expected Cost-Benefit Analysis?” Climatic Change. 56: 265-289.

Weitzman, M. 2007. “The Role of Uncertainty in the Economics of Catastrophic Climate Change.” papers.ssrn.com, January. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=992873.


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