Tis David Roberts, at Vox. I say that up front because although I’m pretty sure I’ve disagreed with him on just this kind of stuff before, I can’t find it now. Although maybe I was thinking of the related How much is climate change going to cost us? at Grist, which is presumably much the same thing. DR starts with:
It’s fairly well-established at this point that there’s a robust scientific consensus about the threat of climate change. But analysts and journalists often say (or imply) that there’s less of an economic consensus, that economists are leery of the actions recommended by scientists because of their cost.
The bit about the scientific consensus isn’t in doubt; but “economists are leery of the actions recommended by scientists because of their cost” reads oddly. As we all know, there is an economic consensus on a carbon tax, which I share. But what does “actions recommended by scientists” mean? If I go to Expert Consensus on the Economics of Climate Change which is what DR’s article is based on I find the scientific community has developed widespread consensus that action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is necessary, which I think is reasonable, as a representation of the views of scientists. However I think I’d argue that those views are subtly wrong, because they mis-state’s scientists place in the process. (Climate) scientists get to investigate, determine that GW is happening and will proceed in such-and-such a way in the future under certain conditions (principally, emission scenarios). However they don’t have any especially privileged position as regards “policy recommendations” as to what to do about it. Why should they? Their expertise is in the science, not in economics or in policy. They can – rightly – complain if politicians do nothing about GW. So I think economists are leery of the actions recommended by scientists is entirely likely, and likely to be both a correct reflection of economists views, and that the said views of the said economists are likely to be correct, too (the title also doesn’t make sense, of itself. Should it read economic models underestimate economic impacts of climate change? That would make sense, as a question. But I won’t waste time on titles).
At that point I realised the survey was from 2015 and I’ve already blogged about it. FFS.
Other than that there’s a lot of confusion about “climate model” and failing to distinguish physical from economic, which I think is a poor show; and then there’s the standard stuff about social cost of carbon and discount rates, but there’s nothing new in that, of course.
In the end, as I said before, what’s most interesting about the survey of economists is the degree to which they think Something Should Be Done. As the graph I’ve inlined at the top shows, a clear majority, 56%, plump for “very serious” as the answer to “If nothing is done to limit climate change in the future, how serious of a problem do you think it will be for the United States?” and 50% go for “Immediate and drastic action is necessary” as the answer to “Which of the following best describes your views about climate change?” So it is pretty odd the way everyone beats up on the Evil Economists; it is almost like people are fighting strawmen.