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Climate Economics

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Climate Economics

The State of the Art


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Is there still time to save the world from global warming? Climate economists reveal troubling new research.

Editorial Rating



  • Comprehensive
  • Analytical
  • Eye Opening


Environmental economists Frank Ackerman and Elizabeth A. Stanton have compiled the most recent findings on climate change into a little book that packs a big punch. It is filled with stunning revelations and the facts that back them. As research methods improve, scientists are learning more about the damage already done to the Earth and its species, and economists are beginning to grapple with how to measure it. New studies show that many critical ecosystems on the planet have probably already passed the survival tipping point. What’s coming at the end of the century is more than an “inconvenient truth”; the authors say it is likely to mean an end to the world as you know it. This is an expert, technical distillation of past and new studies, and, though not a page-turner in the normal sense, it’s a gripping, unvarnished look at the Earth’s possible future. getAbstract recommends this slim volume to those looking for the facts on climate change.


“A Complex Truth”

“Climate economics” is the intersection where scientific forecasts about climate change meet its economic and human impacts. Past research provided plenty of data, but new research makes practical sense of it. When climate experts evaluate the economic effects of climate change, they begin by analyzing current greenhouse gas emissions. They then forecast future levels and how those levels will affect temperatures, sea heights and human life. The use of economic models helps put a monetary value on the measurements and on the efforts required to mitigate climate damage to the environment.

Climate analysis is a complex process fraught with uncertainty. Methods are neither standard nor uniform, and ambiguity about the “nonlinear” effects of climate changes adds to the complexity. The most optimistic “business-as-usual” scenarios – which incorporate no efforts to alleviate greenhouse gas emissions – foresee minimal increases above current levels. Worst-case scenarios, however, forecast a dramatic rise in greenhouse gas emissions and the widespread extinction of various ecosystems. The standard assumption put forth in the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on...

About the Authors

Frank Ackerman and Elizabeth A. Stanton are senior economists at Synapse Energy Economics, a consultancy specializing in energy, environmental and economic research.

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