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A climate change Nobel in economics?

Published 11th October 2009 - 3 comments - 706 views -

In what was a blatantly partisan, political decision, the Nobel Prize committee gave the award in Economic Sciences to Paul Krugman last year. Having given this year's Peace Prize to Barack Obama, in another blatantly partisan, political move that was greeted by shock and wonder, one imagines that those who make these decisions might feel obliged to curb their enthusiasms as the Nobels season draws to a close, but there is a feeling that given the current in-for-a-penny, in-for-a-pound approach, they'll persist with this trend and, in light of Copenhagen, give today's economics gong to William Nordhaus, the Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale University in the USA.

Nordhaus has focused on economic growth and the economics of climate change in his research and has stated: "Mankind is playing dice with the natural environment through a multitude of interventions-injecting into the atmosphere trace gases like the greenhouse gases or ozone-depleting chemicals, engineering massive land-use changes such as deforestation, depleting multitudes of species in their natural habitats even while creating transgenic ones in the laboratory, and accumulating sufficient nuclear weapons to destroy human civilizations."

Anyone wishing to brush up on Nordhausian thinking should read The Question of Global Warming: An Exchange by Nordhaus, Leigh Sullivan, Dimitri Zenghelis and Freeman Dyson that was published in the New York Review of Books in September last year. It's an enlightening and informative debate.

Dark horses tomorrow in Stockholm: Ernst Fehr, Eugene Fama and Robert Barro. But given that the economists got everything wrong about the recession, a prediction about which one of them might win the Nobel Prize has to be viewed with scepticism. Oh, and we must not forget Robert Shiller. If the prize committee avoids an ideological decision, he's the most logical frontrunner. 

Category: Climate Politics, | Tags: nobel prize, politics, economics, yale,


Nanne Zwagerman on 12th October 2009:

Nordhaus is advocating a carbon tax at about the same price as Bjorn Lomborg is and otherwise similar in looking at the matter through the lens of neoclassical economics, so I should think that Lord Stern is the more likely candidate if we’re going for blatant partisanship…

Nanne Zwagerman on 12th October 2009:

Williamson and Ostrom! That’s a surprise. They decided to go for new institutional economists. Both had 50/1 odds.

Ostrom has done some very interesting work on ecosystems, so this could mean that the committee is looking forward to next year. But they’re both very worthy.

Eamonn Fitzgerald on 12th October 2009:

And it’s a first for a woman! Until now, all winners of the Nobel for Economics have been male.

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