Monday , May 17 2021
Home / Robert Murphy /LSE Climate Economics “Expert”: Liar or Stupid?

LSE Climate Economics “Expert”: Liar or Stupid?

Summary:
I report, you decide. I am working on a study for the Fraser Institute that relies on the work of William Nordhaus. Long-time readers of my stuff know the irony of this work, because Nordhaus won the Nobel (Memorial) Prize in 2018 for his pioneering work on climate economics, on the same weekend that the UN released its Special Report on limiting global warming to 1.5C. The irony comes from the fact that Nordhaus’ own work shows that even a 2.5C limit–let alone a 1.5C one–would be so economically damaging, that it would be better if governments did nothing at all about climate change. So in response to a reviewer report on my study draft, I went digging around for more recent commentary on Nordhaus. I came across the following in an essay from Bob Ward,

Topics:
Robert Murphy considers the following as important: ,

This could be interesting, too:

Paul Schwennesen writes Epicurious’s Beef with Beef

Robert Murphy writes LSE Climate Economics “Expert”: Liar or Stupid?

Robert Murphy writes Undercutting the Libertarian Case Against Lockdowns

Scott Sumner writes The Mae West of energy sources

I report, you decide.

I am working on a study for the Fraser Institute that relies on the work of William Nordhaus. Long-time readers of my stuff know the irony of this work, because Nordhaus won the Nobel (Memorial) Prize in 2018 for his pioneering work on climate economics, on the same weekend that the UN released its Special Report on limiting global warming to 1.5C. The irony comes from the fact that Nordhaus’ own work shows that even a 2.5C limit–let alone a 1.5C one–would be so economically damaging, that it would be better if governments did nothing at all about climate change.

So in response to a reviewer report on my study draft, I went digging around for more recent commentary on Nordhaus. I came across the following in an essay from Bob Ward, Policy and Communications Director, at the London School of Economics’ Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment:

Professor Nordhaus stressed during his [Nobel acceptance] lecture that climate change is a very serious problem and that a universal carbon price should be introduced to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Nevertheless, Professor Nordhaus’s latest results have been seized upon by climate change deniers and so-called ‘lukewarmers’, who deny the risks of climate change. For instance, Dr Bjorn Lomborg, who has a track record of misrepresenting the results of climate research, recently wrote in another inaccurate and misleading article for ‘Project Syndicate’ that Professor Nordhaus’s showed “aiming to reduce temperatures more drastically, to within 2.5°C of preindustrial levels, would drive the cost beyond $130 trillion, leaving us $50 trillion worse off”.

In fact, the journal paper by Professor Nordhaus to which Dr Lomborg claims to have been referring shows clearly that unabated climate change would lead to damages of US$134.2 trillion (discounted present value, 2010 prices) as a result of global warming that would exceed 4°C by the end of the century. By contrast, limiting global warming to 2.5°C would cost US$134.6 trillion, but would still lead to damages of US$43.1 trillion.

Now what is hilarious is that (a) if you go to the Nordhaus paper that Ward links to, you will see Bjorn Lomborg’s summary is correct (looking at the “Objective [function]” column, or the dollar figure is $43.2 trillion if you look that way), and (b) once you know the scoop, you can re-read Ward’s own summary and see that it doesn’t contradict what Lomborg said. (!) I’ve attached the relevant table below for your convenience.

So my question: Did Bob Ward just not know how to read Nordhaus’ table, and confidently call Lomborg a denier, and his article inaccurate and misleading, out of ignorance? Or did Ward know that Lomborg had correctly summarized Nordhaus’ table, and was just hoping most readers wouldn’t bother to check or know how to?

LSE Climate Economics “Expert”: Liar or Stupid?
Robert Murphy
Christian, Austrian economist, and libertarian theorist. Research Prof at Texas Tech and author of *Choice*. Paul Krugman's worst nightmare.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *