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Beyond Reasonable Debate

by Kristen Sheeran • November 29, 2012 @ 11:56 am

It appears that scare tactics, slander, and intimidation are no longer exclusively the domain of climate denialists seeking to discredit climate science research. According to the actions of Richard Tol, an economist at the University of Sussex, it would seem that these are now acceptable forms of academic debate in economics.

Tol has waged a campaign to damage the reputation of economist Frank Ackerman. Ackerman’s crime? He published a peer-reviewed technical article in a highly reputable journal (“Climate Damages in the FUND Model: A Disaggregated Analysis,” Ecological Economics, 2012.) that critiques Tol’s signature contribution to the climate economics literature – the FUND model. Since then, Tol has written to Ackerman’s employer and publishers accusing him of libel. (more…)

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For Whom the Blog Tols

by Frank Ackerman • October 26, 2011 @ 8:30 am

Is it true that there’s no such thing as bad publicity? If so, we’re in luck. The paper that Elizabeth A. Stanton and I wrote on the social cost of carbon has been discussed on the Bishop Hill blog, a leading forum for British climate skeptics – and in comments on that blog and on Twitter by Richard Tol.

Bishop Hill cites us as estimating that the social cost of carbon – the monetary value of the present and future damage caused by emitting one ton of carbon dioxide – could be $1,000 or more. Tol calls this estimate “complete nonsense,” and Bishop Hill refers to the increase from the U.S. government’s $21 estimate to $1,000 and higher as “fairly jawdropping.”

Feel free to pick your jaw back up; we never said that the social cost of carbon is $1,000. We did say that the value should reflect important climate uncertainties, and that our modeling of those uncertainties produced a range of possible values from $28 to almost $900 for emissions today, or from $64 to about $1,500 for emissions in 2050. (more…)


Can Individual Actions Alone Solve Climate Change?

by Kristen Sheeran • September 15, 2011 @ 10:21 am

In a recent op-ed for the New York Times entitled Going Green but Getting Nowhere,  Gernot Wagner reminds us that individual actions alone can’t solve the climate problem. To solve climate change and other planetary ills, we need real economic incentives. We can green the planet faster by  “mastering some basic economics” and supporting smart carbon policy than recycling plastic bags.

Helping others understand climate economics  and the economic imperative for firm limits on carbon emissions is part of what Real Climate Economics is all about. But Gernot makes some strong assertions in his op-ed that have created quite a stir. For one, he likens a market system that fails to price the full social cost of carbon to socialism. Yet, at the same time, Gernot argues that the social cost of carbon is only $20 per ton, or a mere 20 cents per gallon of gasoline .

In a recent letter to the New York Times in response to Gernot’s op-ed, Frank Ackerman argues that our market system is grossly inefficient (not socialist) because it ignores the social cost of carbon, which may – according to some recent studies – be as high as $900 per ton under the worst plausible climate change scenarios. 

You can read Gernot’s op-ed here and Ackerman’s response.




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