Quite interesting paper, published in Econometrica, Vol. 66, No. 6 (November, 1998}, 1279-1298.
The tile is: THE NOAH’S ARK PROBLEM, by MARTIN L. WEITZMAN
Abstract: This paper is about the economic theory of biodiversity preservation. A cost-effectiveness methodology is constructed, which results in a particular formula that can be used as a criterion to rank projects. The ranking criterion is sufficiently operational to be useful in suggesting what to look at when determining actual conservation priorities among endangered species. At the same time, the formula is firmly rooted in a mathematically rigorous optimization framework, so that its theoretical underpinnings are clear. The underlying model, called the “Noah‘s Ark Problem,” is intended to be a kind of canonical form that hones down to its analytical essence the problem of best preserving diversity under a limited budget constraint.
Keywords: Biodiversity, endangered species, diversity theory
The author writes
"There are several motivations for this paper. Essentially, I am trying to introduce an analytical framework that represents a useful way of thinking about the economics of diversity through the medium of an abstract mathematical model. The “Noah’s Ark Problem” is a parable intended to be a kind of canonical form of the simplest possible way of representing how best to preserve biodiversity under a limited budget constraint. Throughout the paper, emphasis is laid upon simplicity of structure, in order to get at the analytical essence of