Environmental Economics Case Study

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Assignment Instructions: Suppose you are the Dictator of Imagineland, an island about the size of Iceland located in the North Atlantic Ocean with a population of 1 million people. Major industries are commercial fishing and tourism, but these industries (in their current form) are not growing your country’s economy and you need to figure out what to do. Commercial fishing on the open ocean has been declining due to over-harvesting by other countries. Imagineland is formed over an old oceanic volcano system and has a mountainous environment (elevation ranges from sea level all the way to 4,000 feet).

Most of your inland areas remain undeveloped, as the majority of your population lives in coastal areas. You have a mix of public and private property throughout. Property rights are relatively well established and enforced (in the areas that fall under Imagineland’s jurisdiction).

You have just discovered a vast amount of petroleum deep in the ocean floor just off of your coast (in your country’s territorial waters).

Your #1 objective is to grow your country’s per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the long run. Consider how you might think about whether to develop and extract this resource according to economic principles of sustainability, and what you have to consider as alternatives, tradeoffs, environmental issues, etc.

You should flesh out the country of Imagineland according to your own “Imagination.” Consider environmental concerns as well as economic concerns, such as employment, GDP (total and per capita), and trade.

Your assignment should be no more than 4 pages double-spaced, 12-pt font. Cite real world examples (this isn’t the first time oil has been discovered; there are probably lessons to be learned from other countries). Use APA format for references and citations.

Include the following 5 information/headings:

Issue Identification and objectives.

State your primary objective (as given above). Develop a secondary objective that you think is also important for your country. Make sure it is measurable (you can’t achieve an objective if you can’t measure your success) in some fashion.

Summarize the issue, including the current status of your country (size, population, major industries, employment, GDP per capita, average education level, major resources, major industries, etc.). Many of these will require you to use your “imagination” but keep them reasonable. Also, make sure GDP per capita aligns with the rest of your metrics. For example, it is not reasonable to say a country that depends mostly on tourism and commercial fishing with an unemployment rate of 20% has a GDP per capita of $50,000. Check the CIA Fact book, World Bank, or other data source for comparable countries.

Decision and Alternatives

Identify the decision to be made. This is not where you make the decision – it is where you decide what you have to decide.

Present two alternative choices regarding what you might do to grow your country’s long run GDP. These choices should be mutually exclusive, such that you cannot do both (either because you have limited resources to invest right now, or because one industry interferes with the other). One of your choices should be to develop the oil resource (flesh out a few details on when, how BUT don’t go into a huge amount of detail). Your other choice should be to focus on a different industry. It does not have to be something already mentioned. You DO have to think about how you would pay for the initial investment required for either alternative. Do not assume that you can rely on taxes (remember your country is struggling) or that your government has a magical pot of money to draw from.

Evaluation of Alternatives

What are the tradeoffs associated with each alternative? Explain what your country gains and loses (in terms of economics, financial, social, etc.) if you choose one alternative versus the other one. Evaluate each alternative separately (don’t compare them in this section), using common metrics such as impact on GDP growth, impact on the environment, impact on taxation, education, etc. The metrics you choose are up to you, but at remember we are talking about tradeoffs. What do you gain and lose if you pick Alternative 1? What do you gain and lose if you pick Alternative 2? Remember, you do not compare them here. That means that the costs of Alternative 1 (e.g., ecological damage from extraction) ARE NOT the benefits of Alternative 2. That would be a comparison.

Decision and Justification

Based on your evaluation above, describe what alternative you might select and why you think it best satisfies your #1 objective. How well does it satisfy your secondary objective?


You must include at least three scholarly references. Each reference must also be properly APA cited in the body of your paper (don’t just tack them on at the end).

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