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Nordhaus, Tol, and Climate-Change Economics: Turning Around the Conventional Wisdom

By Robert Murphy -- July 11, 2012

“The scientific modeling of climate change, and its possible impacts on human welfare, are very technical…. When experts try to summarize the fields for the layperson, they sometimes present matters in misleading ways, however inadvertent. William Nordhaus’s treatment of the economics literature, and RealClimate’s discussion of the accuracy of climate models’ temperature predictions, are good examples.”

At the Institute for Energy Research (IER) blog, I rebutted Yale economist William Nordhaus’s New York Review of Books criticism of a Wall Street Journal editorial by 16 “global warming skeptic” scientists, including MIT’s Richard Lindzen.

To understand the full point-counterpoint, the interested reader should consult the above links chronologically. Elsewhere I have challenged the entire case for a carbon tax. However, in the present post I want to focus on just two issues in the overall debate, that were raised in the wake of my initial IER post:

(1) the timing and amount of net damages from climate change, according to the best economic models, and

(2) what the climate scientists mean when they talk of a “confidence interval” in temperature projections.