Friday, February 11, 2011

Economists versus climate scientists

This piece compares the reactions - calm, measured economists versus freaked-out climate scientists - between two sets of scholars studying climate change.

The piece argues that climate scientists and economists differ in their beliefs about the adaptability of social and economic institutions to climate change. I think that is correct.

I think there are also likely differences in the process of selection into economics and climate science that feed into these differences in attitudes. A cynic might also argue that the two groups face different elasticities of research funding with respect to predictions of doom.

There is room for some deeper sociology of science in this area.

Oh, and we should have a carbon tax.


Dan said...

Dear Jeff,

I can recommend two recent, excellent history/sociology of science pieces on Climate Change (though not explicitly engaging with the different cultures of economists and climatologists):
Paul Edwards, "A Vast Machine" & Oreskes and Conway, "Merchants of Doubt". The first asks, how do we know anything about global climate at all? And traces the history of climate change and climate models, along with the political debates about them. The second examines the climate change skeptics and their history, including their links to earlier "tobacco science" proponents.

Jason Kerwin said...

I think your second-to-last line should be included by default at the end of all economics articles about climate change.