Year of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name

Forest and Conservation Science

Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Norma P. Nickerson

Commitee Members

Wayne Freimund, Lucian G. Conway, III, Amy Odum, Matthew Taylor


Air Quality, Behavioral Economics, Decision-making, Delay Discounting, Natural and Built Environments, Time Perception


The University of Montana


Air pollution and current levels of anthropogenic emissions represent dangerous scenarios for local and global plant and animal biodiversity loss and human health. Recently, economists and policy makers have suggested the lowest possible future discount rate be adopted for environmental outcomes to prioritize preservation of natural resources far in the future (e.g., Kyoto Protocol with global scale emissions reductions; air quality on a local scale; Weitzman, 1998). Future discounting refers to the decrease in value of an outcome - for example, improved air quality -- when the outcome is temporally remote. Despite the imperative nature of society and individuals to adopt the lowest possible discount rate in specific areas of environment and human health (namely air quality and respiratory health), research has shown that neither aggregate policy, nor individual decision-making reflect low future discount rates. In fact in many cases economic and psychological discount experiments suggest that future air quality and health are discounted steeply.

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