Bildtext får vara max två rader text. Hela texten ska högerjusteras om den bara ska innehålla fotobyline! Photo: B. Christensen/Azote
PERCEPTION OF TIME AND RISK
Collaboration in uncertain times can turn tragedy into comedy
- Researchers use game theory to investigate how individual time preferences influence long-term collective action under the risk of collapse
- Several preconditions are needed to spur successful long-term collective action
- Caring for the future is essential for collaboration to arise
Caring for the future can spur long-term collective action but the severity of a perceived threat is what will eventually determine whether action will be taken
THE URGENCY OF NOW: The illusion of time may be one of the biggest obstacles in trying to solve global environmental change. For many, climate change is still not real, it remains a looming threat destined for the future, rather than an urgent action needed to be solved today. The result is a reluctance to join forces and collaborate towards sustainable, transformative solutions.
In a study published in PNAS, centre author Jonathan F. Donges along with colleagues from German, US and Russian universities use game theory to investigate how individual time preferences influence long-term collective action under the risk of collapse.
Under certain conditions, caring for the future alone can transform this collective action challenge from a tragedy to a comedy of the commons, where collaboration dominates.
Jonathan Donges, co-author
Severity of threat most important
The authors extend the well-studied setting of a social dilemma to that of a social-ecological dilemma. They do so by incorporating an environmental tipping element, termed the Ecological Public Good, into the “public goods game” based on concepts from game theory.
The actors in the model are geopolitical units such as cities, states, or unions of state.
Collaborative actions represent stewardship policies such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions or enhancing global carbon sinks.
The authors show that several preconditions are needed to spur successful long-term collective action:
Time preference, the impact of collapse and the number of actors involved are three elements which determine the emergence of collaboration to avoid negative outcomes.
Caring for the future is also essential for collaboration to arise, but the severity of the perceived threat is what will eventually determine whether action will be taken.
Polarization affects global collaboration
Moreover, the greater the number of actors involved, the greater the severity of the collapse impact needs to be in order to spur actors to collaborate. The dilemma is clear: individual inaction is beneficial on the short-run even though collective action would be beneficial on the long-run.
"Our model offers a possible explanation for how the increased polarization with respect to the beliefs about human-made climate change poses a threat to the stability of global collaboration agreements, such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Accord," the authors conclude.
The authors introduce a stochastic game to study the pre-conditions for successful intertemporal collective action under risk of collapse. The stochastic game incorporates multiple environmental states, which can affect the actors’ available actions, observations, and current rewards. The transition between the states depends on chosen actions which occur probabilistically. To complement this analysis, the authors further use a multiagent actor-critic reinforcement learning dynamic, similar to the replicator dynamics used in evolutionary game theory, whereby agents are capable of learning in stochastic games. The different equilibria are studied to determine the conditions necessary for cooperation to emerge.
General news | 2024-02-29
Johan Rockström awarded the Tyler Prize
Johan Rockström, professor and former director at Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University, now leading the University of Potsdam Institute for Climate Research, has received the world's top environmental prize.
Research news | 2024-02-20
Having good neighbours and few top predators make predatory fish populations more resilient
A regime shift is gradually spreading through the archipelagos of the Swedish Baltic Sea coast, where shallow bays, previously dominated by pike and perch have one by one become dominated by one of their prey species, the three-spined stickleback.
Research news | 2024-02-08
Eating new plant-based foods can be good for the environment, your health and your economy
Replacing animal-source foods with plant-based alternatives or whole foods decreases environmental impact, meets nutrition recommendations, and can be cost-competitive with the current average Swedish diet
Research news | 2024-01-29
Bird AI and sailing drones – green game changers for marine ecosystems
Groups of guillemots on an island in the Baltic Sea have unknowingly inspired how marine research can be done. Two AI-powered research projects can change how to monitor marine ecosystems – and potentially manage them in real-time
Research news | 2024-01-24
Centralised social networks can hinder innovation by making decision-making too similar
Social systems where influence is centred around one or two individuals can lead to pack mentality and groupthink in farming communities
Research news | 2024-01-23
Planetary Commons: Fostering global cooperation to safeguard critical Earth system functions
We should look at tipping elements of the Earth system as global commons, argue researchers in a new paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences