Changing Climate, Changing Economy

Changing Climate, Changing Economy

The Cournot Centre series

Edited by Jean-Philippe Touffut

How did climate change become an economic issue? Why is economic discourse so influential on the public policy of climate change? How can it best contribute to the scientific and public debates? Nine eminent scholars explain in this book both how economics has changed environmental understanding and how the study of climate change has modified the economy.

Comments: Towards an Enlightened Form of Doomsaying

Jean-Pierre Dupuy

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, environment, environmental economics


Jean-Pierre Dupuy Climate change is made up of immense uncertainties and some solid certainties. In the text that follows, I shall comment on both, as well as on action to be taken, from a philosophical vantage point on the one hand, and from the perspective of a contributor to the IPCC on the other. ● ● ● Argument 1: Certainties. Global warming due to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is a reality. Its most proximate cause is human activity. As a consequence, calamitous climate change is a dire prospect that cannot be ruled out if substantial reductions in carbon emissions are not implemented without delay. It is a well-known fact that the planet as we know it will not endure if China, India and Brazil, for example, follow the same developmental path as that of Europe and the United States. Argument 2: Uncertainties. There remain large uncertainties regarding the future. The modelling of climate change, for instance, cannot tell us whether the temperature of the planet by 2100 will have increased by 2 or 6°C. It must be noted, however, that half of that uncertainty results from the uncertainty regarding the policy that will be implemented, which may vary from a strong determined action to a lack of measures to reduce greenhouse gas pollution. Another observation: we know that tipping points exist, beyond which the behaviour of the systems under consideration changes dramatically, even catastrophically. Take, for example, the possible collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The problem...

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