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neous societies that are changing slowly. In modem, heterogeneous, rapidly changing societies, religion and social customs cannot handle all the newly evolving situations or the conflict between radically different cultures and belief systems.
Many trap theorists believe that the most effective method for avoiding and escaping from social traps is to turn the trap into a trade-off. This method does not run counter to our normal tendency to follow the road signs; it merely corrects the signs' inaccuracies by adding compensatory positive or negative reinforcements. A simple example illustrates how effective this method can be. Playing slot machines is a social trap because the long-term costs and benefits to the player are inconsistent with the short-term costs and benefits to the player. People play the machines because they expect a large short-term jackpot, while the machines are in fact programmed to pay off, say, $0.80 on the dollar in the long-term.2 People may ''win'' hundreds of dollars playing the slots (in the short ran), but if they play long enough they will certainly lose $0.20 for every dollar played. To change this trap to a trade-off, one could simply reprogram the machines so that every time a dollar was put in $0.80 would come out. This way the short-term reinforcements ($0.80 on the dollar) are made consistent with the long-term reinforcements ($0.80 on the dollar), and only the dedicated aficionados of spinning wheels with fruit painted on them would continue to play.
Innovative Instruments for Environmental Management
Current command-and-control systems of environmental regulation are not very efficient at managing environmental resources for sustainability, particularly in the face of uncertainty about long-term values and impacts. They are inherently reactive rather than proactive. They induce legal confrontation, obfuscation, and government intrusion into business. Rather than encouraging long-range technical and social innovation, they tend to suppress it. They do not mesh well with the market signals that firms and individuals use to make decisions and do not effectively translate long-term global goals into short-term local incentives. They do not effectively turn environmental traps into trade-offs.
We need to explore promising alternatives to our current command-and-control environmental management systems, and to modify existing government agencies and other institutions accordingly. The enormous uncertainty about local and transnational environmental impacts needs to be incorporated into decision making. We also need to understand better the sociological, cultural, and political criteria for acceptance or rejection of policy instruments.
One example of an innovative policy instrument currently being studied is a flexible environmental assurance bonding system designed to incorporate environmental criteria and uncertainty into the market system and to induce positive environmental technological innovation (Costanza and Perrings, 1990; Perrings, 1989, 1991).