Discussions of climate change and economics can be challenging. There is nervousness in many quarters when I remind people of the limits to our knowledge of the transmission mechanism from carbon emissions to climate and economic impacts. There is a concern that this acknowledgement just feeds the appetite of the climate change deniers or provides an excuse for delayed action. But jumping to such conclusion like this fails to recognize a basic insight from decision theory. The possibility of bad consequences in the future could easily be sufficient for a call to action to immediate action. Moreover, it should be a part of a scientific approach to research in this area, as well as in other areas, to acknowledge the quality of the pertinent evidence. In my talk, I described what I consider to be a productive research agenda to promote the provision of quantitative tools to guide climate policy while respecting the fact that our knowledge is incomplete.
At the end of his presentation, Lars quotes Steven E. Koonin, former undersecretary for science at the U.S. Department of Energy:
Any serious discussion of the changing climate must begin by acknowledging not only the scientific certainties but also the uncertainties, especially in projecting the future. Recognizing those limits, rather than ignoring them, will lead to a more sober and ultimately more productive discussion of climate change and climate policies.