Understanding and Minimizing the Impacts of Environmental Damage on Humans
How we function and experience the world is intimately linked to the natural environments we live in.
Most research in this area has investigated how the environment affects our health. But Dr. Anthony Heyes, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Economics, is trying to understand how environmental damage affects our health and welfare more broadly and develop corresponding environmental policies.
He and his research team are using novel data sources—such as social media and court records—to understand how pollution and extreme climate affect a range of diverse non-health outcomes, such as workplace productivity, absenteeism, risk aversion, violent behavior, sleep quality and emotion.
These data sources allow them to study populations that range from Wall Street traders to adolescents in Los Angeles to young Beijing professionals to see how variations in their environments influence their behaviours. The goal is to better understand how to design and calibrate environmental policy.
A second strand of Heyes’ work involves behavioural policy design. He and his team are designing schemes that motivate “good” behavior using low-cost changes in how choices are presented to consumers.
The third strand in Heyes’ work relates to the roles played by governments, non-governmental organizations and businesses in delivering better environmental outcomes. This strand focuses on how those involved collaborate or compete to realize their own objectives, as well as how policymakers can design the terms of these collaborations or competitions to deliver socially desirable outcomes.
Ultimately, Heyes’ research will improve regulations by delivering insights into the impacts of pollution and climate change.