Modeling economies and ecosystems in general equilibrium
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This work exploits the general equilibrium modeling framework to simulate complex systems, an economy and an ecosystem. In an economic application, this work leverages a novel data revision scheme to integrate technological detail on electricity generation and pollution abatement into national accounts data in a traditional economic computed general equilibrium (CGE) model. This integration provides a rich characterization of generation and abatement for multiple fuel sources and pollutants across 72 different generation-abatement technology configurations. Results reveal that the benefits of reductions in oxides of nitrogen and sulfur from a carbon policy in the US electric sector are on the order of $10 bn., which rival the policy's welfare costs and make 12-13% carbon abatement economically justifiable without considering any climate benefits. For ecosystem applications, this work demonstrates how the structure of economic CGE modeling can be adapted to construct a Biological General Equilibrium (BGE) model grounded in the theoretical biology literature. The BGE model contributes a novel synthesis of micro-behavioral, bioenergetic features with macroscopic ecosystem outcomes and empirical food web data. Species respond to prevailing ecosystem scarcity conditions that impinge on their energy budgets driving population outcomes within and across model periods. This adaptive capacity is a critical advance over the commonly-taken phenomenological or first-order parametric approaches. The distinctive design of the BGE model enables numerical examination of how changes in scarcity drives biomass production and consumption in a complex food web. Moreover, the BGE model design can exploit empirical datasets used by extant ecosystem models to offer this level of insight for a wide cast of ecosystems. Monte carlo simulations demonstrate that the BGE framework can produce stable results for the ecosystem robust to a variety of shocks and parameterizations. The BGE model's validity is supported in tests against real-world phenomena within the Aleutian ecosystem - both an invasive species and a harvesting-induced trophic cascade - by mimicking key features of these phenomena. The BGE model's micro-founded dynamics, the stability and robustness of its results, and its validity against real-world phenomena offer a unique and valuable contribution to ecosystem modeling and a way forward for the integrated assessment of human-ecosystem interactions.
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