A Question of Balance: Weighing the Options on Global Warming Policies

By William D. Nordhaus
Yale University Press, 2008
Description: xiii, 234 p.: ill.; 22 cm.


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As scientific and observational evidence on global warming piles up every day, questions of economic policy in this central environmental topic have taken center stage. But as author and prominent Yale economist William Nordhaus observes, the issues involved in understanding global warming and slowing its harmful effects are complex and cross disciplinary boundaries. For example, ecologists see global warming as a threat to ecosystems, utilities as a debit to their balance sheets, and farmers as a hazard to their livelihoods.

In this important work, William Nordhaus integrates the entire spectrum of economic and scientific research to weigh the costs of reducing emissions against the benefits of reducing the long-run damages from global warming. The book offers one of the most extensive analyses of the economic and environmental dynamics of greenhouse-gas emissions and climate change and provides the tools to evaluate alternative approaches to slowing global warming. The author emphasizes the need to establish effective mechanisms, such as carbon taxes, to harness markets and harmonize the efforts of different countries. This book not only will shape discussion of one the world’s most pressing problems but will provide the rationales and methods for achieving widespread agreement on our next best move in alleviating global warming.

Editorial Reviews

"William Nordhaus has, with the publication of A Question of Balance, once again reestablished the gold standard for economic analysis of climate policy in an uncertain world where scientific understanding changes unexpectedly."
     — Gary Yohe, Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics at Wesleyan University (Gary Yohe )

"This book provides a forceful, insightful, and timely overview of climate change policy. Professor Nordhaus adroitly unravels the mysteries of global warming and lays bare the options before us."
     — John P. Weyant, Professor of Management Science and Engineering, Stanford University (John P. Weyant )

"Nordhaus''s careful modeling of the world climate and the world economy is a cool breeze of common sense in an arena of discourse often dominated by torrents of hot air."
     — Dale Jorgenson, Samuel W. Morris University Professor of Economics, Harvard University (Dale Jorgenson )

"Professor Nordhaus pioneered the integrated analysis of climate change, combining climatic and economic modeling. His new book shows that his work remains the standard of analysis by which the field may be judged. His exposition is very clear and thorough, showing all the relevant issues so that those who may disagree can pinpoint exactly the points at issue."
     — Kenneth J. Arrow, Stanford University, Nobel Laureate in Economics (Kenneth J. Arrow )

Table of Contents

1. Summary for the Concerned Citizen 1
2. Background and Description of the DICE Model 30
3. Deviation of the Equations of the DICE-2007 Model 38
4. Alternative Politics for Global Warming 65
5. Results of the DICE-2007 Model Runs 80
6. The Economics of Participation 116
7. Dealing with Uncertainty in Climate-Change Policy 123
8. The Many Advantages of Carbon Taxes 148
9. An Alternative Perspective: The Stern Review 165
10. Summary and Conclusion 192
Appendix Equations of the DICE-2007 Model 205
Notes 211
References 219
Index 227