Smackdown: climate science vs. climate economics

Publication Type:

Web Article




Grist (2011)






As I see it, there are two incommensurate stories being told about climate change. I'm not talking about the largely fake debate between those who say climate change is happening and human-driven (scientists) and those who say it isn't (the GOP).

I'm talking about two different ways of envisioning what we can expect in a climate-changed future, both of which exist among people who take climate change seriously. Sometimes they take up residence in the same head! Like, er, mine. But they don't fit together very well. One comes to us from science, the other from economics.

...Getting clear on this is ultimately going to require a lot of progress in both science and economics. But for my part, when I see scientists panicking and economists telling me not to panic ... my palms start sweating.

...We are stumbling around in the dark, in an area where scientists tell us some very, very nasty beasties dwell. In that situation, it seems to me the overwhelming bias should be toward action -- getting lean, mean, and nimble enough to handle ourselves no matter what slouches our way.

See: EPA chief faces hostile House GOP

See: Beware The Green Dragon! | Right Wing Watch

See: Energy & Commerce Committee Investigates Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing

See: Global Warming Experts

See: Climate Science Watch

See also: Republicans ask court to toss climate case

Grist Staff Bio


David Roberts, Staff Writer
206.876.2020 ext. 220

David was born and raised in the South. A revelatory summer working in Yellowstone National Park convinced him that it was not the world but just the part where he lived that sucked, so he moved out West. After several wayward years spent snowboarding and getting an MA in philosophy (go griz), he woke up with nothing but a dissertation between him and an arid, cloistered life spent debating minutiae with the world's other 12 Dewey scholars. So he bailed. A period was spent trudging through the swamp of Seattle tech work, wading past,, and Microsoft, before the fine folks at Grist fell for his devastating good looks in December 2003.