- The Cournot Centre series
Edited by Jean-Philippe Touffut
Chapter 4: In Defence of Sensible Economics
4. In defence of sensible economics1 Thomas Sterner UNCERTAINTY IN CLIMATE AND IN THE STERN REPORT Many people2 are critical of the role of conventional economics in integrated assessments of large-scale, risky issues such as climate change. While I share many of the concerns in general, I would lean somewhat in the other direction. As suggested by the title of this chapter, I believe that economic models can help clarify some of the very difficult ethical and philosophical issues involved, at least if done sensibly. One key phenomenon that has been the subject of much discussion in this area is the degree of uncertainty and the handling of this uncertainty. It should nevertheless also be said at the outset that some things are fairly certain. There is, for example, reasonable certainty that an anthropogenic increase in the natural level of radiative forcing is caused by the total quantity of greenhouse gases emitted, which is gradually leading to an increase in average global temperatures. The rate of warming that corresponds to any given increase in greenhouse gases is, however, uncertain, and the biological and other effects of this warming even more so. The highest degree of uncertainty concerns the economic costs of this human-induced climate change. In the Stern Review (Stern, 2006) – and even more so in the debate that the report has sparked – there is a very wide range of costs of climate change. Some of this uncertainty is due to biogeophysical uncertainties. These uncertainties are built in part on...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.
Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.
Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.