13 Nov 2009

Economists Say the Darndest Things

All Posts No Comments

I am reviewing this Institute for Policy Integrity survey [.pdf] of economists on climate change because we at IER are preparing a response. (They are all over the media saying, “Economists and scientists both have consensus: the government needs to act now.”) One of the survey questions asked the economists their estimate of the “social cost of carbon” (i.e. the external damage from emitting an extra ton of carbon). I found this analysis on page 18 funny:

The average estimated social cost of carbon was over $120,000, but that is highly sensitive to two outlier responses. One respondent answered $10,000, and another submitted $10,000,000. Those values are more than twenty times higher than the next highest estimates. It is possible that the respondents mistyped their entries, that they misunderstood the question, or that these answers represent protest responses….Perhaps the response that best captures the uncertainty regarding the damages generated by greenhouse gas emission was: “No one knows, including me.”

Comments are closed.