Paul Krugman accepts Dr.Weitzman time-criticality views

by Ginosar  

As I studied in some depth the GW issue in the last few years, the most profound analysis I saw were by Dr. Martin Weitzman of Harvard on uncertainty and the need to fight GW now and forcefully. I wrote about one of his paper on this blog four months ago:

Over the last 15 months I contacted key staff in Congress and others to alert them to his important points. I am so glad these ideas are finally in the open. Not only that the highly regarded economist Dr. Paul Krugman accepts Dr. Weitzman idea of uncertainty as the key idea to follow fighting GW.


Final points from Krugman's 12 page article above

Finally and most important is the matter of uncertainty. We're uncertain about the magnitude of climate change, which is inevitable, because we're talking about reaching levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere not seen in millions of years. The recent doubling of many modelers' predictions for 2100 is itself an illustration of the scope of that uncertainty; who knows what revisions may occur in the years ahead. Beyond that, nobody really knows how much damage would result from temperature rises of the kind now considered likely.

You might think that this uncertainty weakens the case for action, but it actually strengthens it. As Harvard's Martin Weitzman has argued in several influential papers, if there is a significant chance of utter catastrophe, that chance - rather than what is most likely to happen - should dominate cost-benefit calculations. And utter catastrophe does look like a realistic possibility, even if it is not the most likely outcome.

Weitzman argues - and I agree - that this risk of catastrophe, rather than the details of cost-benefit calculations, makes the most powerful case for strong climate policy. Current projections of global warming in the absence of action are just too close to the kinds of numbers associated with doomsday scenarios. It would be irresponsible - it's tempting to say criminally irresponsible - not to step back from what could all too easily turn out to be the edge of a cliff.

Krugman conclusions on GW actions:

So what I end up with is basically Martin Weitzman's argument: it's the nonnegligible probability of utter disaster that should dominate our policy analysis. And that argues for aggressive moves to curb emissions, soon.


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