Lecture on Climate Change at Wellesley College

October 27, 2008

Tonight Im giving the Goldman Lecture in Economics at Wellesley College. (Here are the slides from my talk.) The topic is climate changestarting with an overview of the problem and then discussing a range of possible approaches to reducing the risks involved. As Ive noted before with regard to health care, our political system doesnt deal well with gradual, long-term problems. And climate change would definitely qualify as one of those gradual, long-term problems. (More precisely, lets hope climate change is a gradual long-term problem and doesnt become a sudden crisis, as is possible given the potential nonlinearities involved.)

Reducing the risks associated with climate change requires trading off up-front costs in exchange for long-term benefits. Given the difficult political economy in such trade-offs, the Goldman lecture discusses ways of reducing the shorter-term economic cost of meeting whatever longer-term environmental objective we choose.