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How knowing the extreme risks of climate change can help us prepare for an uncertain future If you had a 10 percent chance of having a fatal car accident, you'd take necessary precautions. If your finances had a 10 percent chance of suffering a severe loss, you'd reevaluate your assets. So if we know the world is warming and there's a 10 percent chance this might eventually How knowing the extreme risks of climate change can help us prepare for an uncertain future If you had a 10 percent chance of having a fatal car accident, you'd take necessary precautions. If your finances had a 10 percent chance of suffering a severe loss, you'd reevaluate your assets. So if we know the world is warming and there's a 10 percent chance this might eventually lead to a catastrophe beyond anything we could imagine, why aren't we doing more about climate change right now? We insure our lives against an uncertain future--why not our planet? In Climate Shock, Gernot Wagner and Martin Weitzman explore in lively, clear terms the likely repercussions of a hotter planet, drawing on and expanding from work previously unavailable to general audiences. They show that the longer we wait to act, the more likely an extreme event will happen. A city might go underwater. A rogue nation might shoot particles into the Earth's atmosphere, geoengineering cooler temperatures. Zeroing in on the unknown extreme risks that may yet dwarf all else, the authors look at how economic forces that make sensible climate policies difficult to enact, make radical would-be fixes like geoengineering all the more probable. What we know about climate change is alarming enough. What we don't know about the extreme risks could be far more dangerous. Wagner and Weitzman help readers understand that we need to think about climate change in the same way that we think about insurance--as a risk management problem, only here on a global scale. Demonstrating that climate change can and should be dealt with--and what could happen if we don't do so--Climate Shock tackles the defining environmental and public policy issue of our time. -- "Foreign Affairs"


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How knowing the extreme risks of climate change can help us prepare for an uncertain future If you had a 10 percent chance of having a fatal car accident, you'd take necessary precautions. If your finances had a 10 percent chance of suffering a severe loss, you'd reevaluate your assets. So if we know the world is warming and there's a 10 percent chance this might eventually How knowing the extreme risks of climate change can help us prepare for an uncertain future If you had a 10 percent chance of having a fatal car accident, you'd take necessary precautions. If your finances had a 10 percent chance of suffering a severe loss, you'd reevaluate your assets. So if we know the world is warming and there's a 10 percent chance this might eventually lead to a catastrophe beyond anything we could imagine, why aren't we doing more about climate change right now? We insure our lives against an uncertain future--why not our planet? In Climate Shock, Gernot Wagner and Martin Weitzman explore in lively, clear terms the likely repercussions of a hotter planet, drawing on and expanding from work previously unavailable to general audiences. They show that the longer we wait to act, the more likely an extreme event will happen. A city might go underwater. A rogue nation might shoot particles into the Earth's atmosphere, geoengineering cooler temperatures. Zeroing in on the unknown extreme risks that may yet dwarf all else, the authors look at how economic forces that make sensible climate policies difficult to enact, make radical would-be fixes like geoengineering all the more probable. What we know about climate change is alarming enough. What we don't know about the extreme risks could be far more dangerous. Wagner and Weitzman help readers understand that we need to think about climate change in the same way that we think about insurance--as a risk management problem, only here on a global scale. Demonstrating that climate change can and should be dealt with--and what could happen if we don't do so--Climate Shock tackles the defining environmental and public policy issue of our time. -- "Foreign Affairs"

30 review for Climate Shock: The Economic Consequences of a Hotter Planet

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    There Is No Expedient to which a Man Will Not Resort to Avoid the Real Labor of Thinking [Through my ratings, reviews and edits I'm providing intellectual property and labor to Amazon.com Inc., listed on Nasdaq, which fully owns Goodreads.com and in 2014 posted revenues for $90 billion and a $271 million loss. Intellectual property and labor require compensation. Amazon.com Inc. is also requested to provide assurance that its employees and contractors' work conditions meet the highest health a There Is No Expedient to which a Man Will Not Resort to Avoid the Real Labor of Thinking [Through my ratings, reviews and edits I'm providing intellectual property and labor to Amazon.com Inc., listed on Nasdaq, which fully owns Goodreads.com and in 2014 posted revenues for $90 billion and a $271 million loss. Intellectual property and labor require compensation. Amazon.com Inc. is also requested to provide assurance that its employees and contractors' work conditions meet the highest health and safety standards at all the company's sites]. One such expedient is carbon pricing. In the field of climate change mitigation activism, the policy proposal is even considered radical. Probably because it has a puritanic ring to it: "(i) dumping carbon dioxide into the athmosphere causes damage; (ii) nobody is paying for the damage; (iii) start making people - all of us - pay for the damage and for sure nobody will dump carbon any more". And the well-meaning NGO policy advisors - WWF to CDP to Greenpeace - all nod resolutely. The problem is that the mechanism that should lead from carbon pricing to a change in carbon emission patterns - in general summarized or implied in the "for sure" passage - gets never investigated. This book makes no exception. The authors avoid the real labour of thinking by pointing us in the direction of Arthur Pigou, who formalized the notion that taxes can be used to factor in negative externalities and thus drive socially better decisions. But pigouvian taxes bring about the desired outcome only in very special settings: where the decision maker can choose between two substitutable inputs or products, and once incorporated the social costs of the cheaper input through the tax, the decision maker will opt for the now cheaper non-damaging input or product. But what if the decision maker has no choice? What if the decision maker has a car or an aircraft or a freightship that runs on fossil fuel only? It's very likely that the decision maker will duly pay the tax and pass the cost on to someone else (employer, passenger, client). Without substitutes, carbon behaves like a Giffen good: when its price rises, you keep consuming it, reducing your consumption of something else, exactly as in the case of the poor peasants living on rice, situation the authors look down on with some commiseration if not contempt. Tellingly, Richard Branson - owner of Virgin airlines - is quoted here as saying that a global carbon tax, applied to all airlines, to all fuels, in all countries, at the same level would totally make good business sense. Such a tax would in fact be automatically passed on to the passengers by all airlines, and in the absence of any substitute for air travel (the authors seem to posit that videoconferencing is not really a substitute) the tax would not be pigouvian at all, and won't change the way people emit carbon. And to name another example, giant oil & gas multinational ENI say in their 2016 investor relations presentations that they are perfectly comfortable with $40 per tonne - the carbon price put forward by the authors - which won't affect their profitability. Less bluntly, if carbon pricing is to be a serious policy proposal, it is crucial that proponents research something called demand elasticity to changes in fossil fuel prices, that is how much the demand of fossil fuel goes up or comes down in responses to fossil fuel price variations. There should be years' worth of papers and books and conferences on this question only before carbon pricing can be considered a proposal to mitigate climate change (rather than something to be used by governments to bank on carbon). The authors instead prefer not to raise the issue at all, displaying the same willful blindness they consider a prerogative of the geoengineering freaks. To ensure the directed technical change we need to transition to a low carbon economy (just to quote a bit of the boilerplate I'm exposed to on a daily basis) takes place, we must first make fossil fuels substitutable and then if necessary we can introduce a pigouvian tax. And what is resisted - in industry sectors reliant on fossil fuels and in politics - is the very idea that fossil fuels can be substituted. That is the folly, not carbon pricing. As a final caveat, fossil fuels historically and originally (almost 200 years ago) crowded out renewables even though the latter were cheaper - do read the magnificent Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming for the truth. So what substitutable means can be very technical, organizational and very political before cost comes into play.

  2. 4 out of 5

    John Kaufmann

    This book talks a lot about probabilities and risk. It would be way over the head of lay readers trying to get a handle on climate change or climate economics. But it also had nothing new for those of us who are pretty knowledgeable about climate change (I worked in the energy/climate field for many years). So I don't know who the audience for this book should be. In addition, I thought it was very unclear in where it was going; the last chapter summarized the main thesis, but it was too little This book talks a lot about probabilities and risk. It would be way over the head of lay readers trying to get a handle on climate change or climate economics. But it also had nothing new for those of us who are pretty knowledgeable about climate change (I worked in the energy/climate field for many years). So I don't know who the audience for this book should be. In addition, I thought it was very unclear in where it was going; the last chapter summarized the main thesis, but it was too little too late - I had little idea on the journey where the authors were going, and when they got there, it was an extremely brief stay. I think you could do a lot better reading any of numerous other fine books on climate change before this one.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rabbit {Paint me like one of your 19th century gothic heroines!}

    Disclaimer: This book was given to me for free by Netgalley in exchange for a review. I think that this book is a necessary read, and books like it as well. It mostly focuses on environment and economics. There was a heavy emphasis placed on that saving the environment should not lie on the shoulders of individuals people nor individual countries but as a collective community. The problem, as the author has stated, is finding a practical and economical way to make each country reduce and possibly Disclaimer: This book was given to me for free by Netgalley in exchange for a review. I think that this book is a necessary read, and books like it as well. It mostly focuses on environment and economics. There was a heavy emphasis placed on that saving the environment should not lie on the shoulders of individuals people nor individual countries but as a collective community. The problem, as the author has stated, is finding a practical and economical way to make each country reduce and possibly eliminate pollutants. The book was a lot more complex, but that is the main argument. This book was a sad but illuminating read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Keith Akers

    The start of the book was good: climate change is both urgent and difficult. The topic was quite relevant: we need to address the problem of climate change through economic measures, somehow. But I lost interest in this book about halfway through, due to a combination of things that weren’t (in my opinion) explained that well, plus lack of sympathy with the basic ideas and assumptions. These assumptions were not defended, and the authors seemingly are completely oblivious that they are even bein The start of the book was good: climate change is both urgent and difficult. The topic was quite relevant: we need to address the problem of climate change through economic measures, somehow. But I lost interest in this book about halfway through, due to a combination of things that weren’t (in my opinion) explained that well, plus lack of sympathy with the basic ideas and assumptions. These assumptions were not defended, and the authors seemingly are completely oblivious that they are even being made. The thing that wasn’t explained well was the idea of discount rates. A dollar today is worth more than a dollar ten or thirty years from now. Well, maybe, assuming that the economy grows forever, I suppose, and we don’t go into a resource-depletion-induced economic depression. But what does this idea of discount rates actually mean? That the economy is always going to be getting bigger, a highly questionable assumption? That if the environment is valuable, that we can discount the world’s environmental state 10 or 30 years from now? (P. 68). I like to think of myself as a pretty smart guy, but I don’t understand their point even from a formal point of view. I could have probably re-read parts of the book, and looked up other references to “discount rates,” and figured it out, but it looks like this book wants to put a price on the environment. I don’t agree with the basic concept of “getting the price right” on environmental damage, e. g. imposing a carbon tax based on calculations of economic damage done by climate change. The authors evidently follow William Nordhaus’ views (see The Climate Casino: Risk, Uncertainty, and Economics for a Warming World) on climate, which I also disagree with and have critiqued in a Goodreads review, so this gave me another reason to drop the book. I do agree that we should have a steep carbon tax, but this reasoning is faulty and ultimately circular. The whole problem with our economy is the takeover of the natural and wild parts of the planet by the human economy. The economy is part of the larger environment, not vice versa, and we are undermining the environment. Putting an economic price on this takeover assumes that it is already part of the human economy, or should be. But this co-optation of the environment is precisely the problem, because it is supports and underlies the economy. Just stop taking over every last square inch of the planet already! Once you figure this out, get back to me. We should instead just reach an independent decision, based on scientific and environmental considerations, of what we need to do to preserve the environment and what kind of world, basically, we want to live in: e. g., CO2 no higher than 350 ppm, halt soil erosion, a viable wild population of elephants. We should then impose carbon taxes (and other environmental policies) not because this is somehow equivalent to the economic value of the environment, but because that is a rational thing to do. The critique of the ecological economists on this point, I believe, is fatal to the book’s point of view. Herman Daly discusses this issue further in an essay here.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cwiegard

    This book is rather short, only 152 pages and then a ton of notes. But the content is very valuable to serious students of the climate crisis in a couple of ways. First, the authors explain the economics of the situation- why misguided market forces are driving us towards atmospheric carbon levels of 700 ppm in the year 2100, a situation that will benefit nobody. They explain that carbon pricing is the best solution. Second, they explain in depth the market forces that surround the concept of "g This book is rather short, only 152 pages and then a ton of notes. But the content is very valuable to serious students of the climate crisis in a couple of ways. First, the authors explain the economics of the situation- why misguided market forces are driving us towards atmospheric carbon levels of 700 ppm in the year 2100, a situation that will benefit nobody. They explain that carbon pricing is the best solution. Second, they explain in depth the market forces that surround the concept of "geoengineering"- the proposal for the human race to try to counteract greenhouse gas warming by adding reflective sulfate particles to the high atmosphere. The authors state, correctly, that this is a dangerous idea because it does not address ocean acidification and because once started it would need to be continued almost forever in order to avoid a sudden burst of global heating. But they also state that the worst things get from global heat waves and sea level rise, the more psychological and political pressure will mount for dangerous geoengineering ventures. No good news in this little book, but a great deal of common sense and clarity. Many of us are left behind in the economic nature of climate discussion, holding on to the wrong idea that humans will do the right thing if someone tells us that our grandkids are in danger. This provides a much needed antidote to that wrong thinking, which has been proved wrong by the last 25 years of international paralysis. Climate fee and dividend are the only chance we have left- and it is five minutes to midnight.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Siobhan

    Climate Shock is a concise presentation of the economic consequences of climate change. The authors present climate change as a risk management issue, discuss the real vs. perceived risk of the those consequences, and how policymakers respond. Geoengineering is also discussed as an option of last resort (both financially and environmentally.) The book concludes with a discussion of individual action vs. policy change, and how the former is futile without the latter. Very accessible read, with rel Climate Shock is a concise presentation of the economic consequences of climate change. The authors present climate change as a risk management issue, discuss the real vs. perceived risk of the those consequences, and how policymakers respond. Geoengineering is also discussed as an option of last resort (both financially and environmentally.) The book concludes with a discussion of individual action vs. policy change, and how the former is futile without the latter. Very accessible read, with relatively well-known examples (such as the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo, and more recent Chelyabinsklike meteor), easy to understand analogies, and clear terminology (the second chapter serving as a glossary -- while oddly placed, it was useful). However, as an academic text it barely scrapes the surface and I would have liked to see more in-depth discussion. Definitely a good starting point for college writing classes, as a starting point for further research, and would be suitable in a public library. Thanks to NetGalley and Princeton University Press for the ARC of this title.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mark Valentine

    I appreciate the direct, dry, honest writing here. Wagner & Weitzman identify the fearsome foursome of anthropogenic climate disruption: it's global, it's long-term, it's irreversible, and it's uncertain. The final one, uncertainty, is the worst because we still do not know how bad it will be. Further, the authors present why geoengineering methods might have appeal but their effects will not be the solution to climate disruption--it will merely be a means of treating the symptoms. I also apprec I appreciate the direct, dry, honest writing here. Wagner & Weitzman identify the fearsome foursome of anthropogenic climate disruption: it's global, it's long-term, it's irreversible, and it's uncertain. The final one, uncertainty, is the worst because we still do not know how bad it will be. Further, the authors present why geoengineering methods might have appeal but their effects will not be the solution to climate disruption--it will merely be a means of treating the symptoms. I also appreciated that this was written with an economical emphasis. The cost-benefit analysis for dealing with the crisis gives a fresh tint of realism to the nature of the disasters looming. Essentially, since there is not enough being done on a global scale now, today, and since we have already crossed over the 400 ppm threshold, begin to figure out how you and yours can survive because... The rich will adapt; the poor will suffer.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne Boyarsky

    This 241 page book is really only 152 pages of text. There is *a lot* of endnotes and bibliography. The main text was a preface, 7 chapters and an epilogue. And one of those chapters (#2) was more of a glossary - it defined terms in alphabetical order. Despite that, the book was actually a good read. It gives an overview of the problem. There is a lot on probability and best (350 ppm)/worst (700 ppm)/most likely case. Along with comparisons to the insurance industry. It was readable with "camels This 241 page book is really only 152 pages of text. There is *a lot* of endnotes and bibliography. The main text was a preface, 7 chapters and an epilogue. And one of those chapters (#2) was more of a glossary - it defined terms in alphabetical order. Despite that, the book was actually a good read. It gives an overview of the problem. There is a lot on probability and best (350 ppm)/worst (700 ppm)/most likely case. Along with comparisons to the insurance industry. It was readable with "camels in Canada" as a catchy analogy. The economic forces were well described including taxes, true costs and the impact of feeling like we did something. There was also a good discussion of why geoengineering (such as sulfur seeding) is inevitable from an economic point of view - whether it is a well planned event or by a rogue actor - and why this could be problematic.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ben Walker

    A great look at the economics of Climate Change. I enjoyed it. My four takeaways: -$40/ton of CO2 is the current US estimate. It's probably too low (at least by a third). -There's a 10% chance of ending life as we know it if we get to 700 ppm. It's a lognormal probability distribution -Economic models use discounts rates around 4%. That is too high. 1.4% has also been used, but I'd prefer to see something closer to negative 1%. -Low beta: when the market is bad, the return is good. Climate change w A great look at the economics of Climate Change. I enjoyed it. My four takeaways: -$40/ton of CO2 is the current US estimate. It's probably too low (at least by a third). -There's a 10% chance of ending life as we know it if we get to 700 ppm. It's a lognormal probability distribution -Economic models use discounts rates around 4%. That is too high. 1.4% has also been used, but I'd prefer to see something closer to negative 1%. -Low beta: when the market is bad, the return is good. Climate change will do more damage to a healthy economy than to a bad economy. Therefore, a lower discount rate is better. (I'm still a little hazy on this last point.)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Melek

    On your left, you see a series of long articles about climate change disguised as a non-fiction book. This is not a bad thing, not necessarily at least. It doesn't bore you, doesn't make you want to just ditch it and go live the rest of your life, but it does make you wonder if you would give it 28 bucks. It is very informative, including historical events for example as well as the thing it is actually about, and I appreciate how sincere the writing style is. Overall, I liked it, and I would rec On your left, you see a series of long articles about climate change disguised as a non-fiction book. This is not a bad thing, not necessarily at least. It doesn't bore you, doesn't make you want to just ditch it and go live the rest of your life, but it does make you wonder if you would give it 28 bucks. It is very informative, including historical events for example as well as the thing it is actually about, and I appreciate how sincere the writing style is. Overall, I liked it, and I would recommend it, but it's not a 5/5.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    Depressing but informative like his last book on chemical- Exposed. And shows what a rogue state the U.S. with regard to both climate change and toxics, compared with the rest of the world. The conclusion he reaches was obvious ten years ago - that market-based cap and trade was a system to be gamed and that we just need to tax carbon if we are serious. We really really need political change on this issue. Not just hope.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Parnell

    Like a few reviewers have said, this book felt like a collection of essays and papers edited for continuity. Not particularly bad and there was a thread to follow, I also felt like the book had a good noise to signal ratio so I do recommend reading it. I learned a few things from this book, most notably the risk assessments and what those risks mean with what we know now and that unknown unknowns exist (there's quite a few). They explained what we know and what we don't clearly and without boggin Like a few reviewers have said, this book felt like a collection of essays and papers edited for continuity. Not particularly bad and there was a thread to follow, I also felt like the book had a good noise to signal ratio so I do recommend reading it. I learned a few things from this book, most notably the risk assessments and what those risks mean with what we know now and that unknown unknowns exist (there's quite a few). They explained what we know and what we don't clearly and without bogging down the reader with too much technical detail. I also appreciate the author's framing of climate change in the beginning of the book, that climate change is primarily a risk management issue. In their exposition about the risks and what we know and don't know about what will happen at certain climate sensitivity milestones, I felt like they treated the truly scary and catastrophic risks hiding in the tails. The book also taught me two terms used to describe the type of problem that climate change is: climate change is a free-rider problem. Since no individual has to pay the cost of their pollution and since the local minima/maxima of the effects of their pollution are negligible, people will consume and pollute until a tipping point (usually with cascading and far-reaching social implications) is reached. Similar in some ways to metabolic syndrome. The cost to your health when you consume refined sugar is so small as a local minmax that you think it's fine, but after years or decades of consuming refined sugar begin to cascade your body reached a tipping point called metabolic syndrome where diabetes catches up, extreme obesity, chronic fatigue, etc. I think they did a good job of laying out the fact that we need to price carbon. Now. Yesterday. And while a don't know enough about the true economic impacts coming our way as we hit certain sensitivity milestones, pricing carbon at or below zero is malfeasance. The minimum we should be pricing carbon is $40 but they concluded to factor in enough wiggle room for the risks of overshooting some of the catastrophic milestones, it should be much higher. This book is short, I recommend reading it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Oliver Thomas

    I enjoyed the refresher on basic climate maths - a scary reminder of why I decided to work on energy and climate change to begin with. You'd also struggle to find a book as well-written as this that better articulates the classic economist response to rising emissions: put a price on carbon and we can all go home. This is presented as self-evident rather when I'd argue it is anything but - certainly necessary, but not sufficient. Serious discussion of politics sorely lacking. I enjoyed the creat I enjoyed the refresher on basic climate maths - a scary reminder of why I decided to work on energy and climate change to begin with. You'd also struggle to find a book as well-written as this that better articulates the classic economist response to rising emissions: put a price on carbon and we can all go home. This is presented as self-evident rather when I'd argue it is anything but - certainly necessary, but not sufficient. Serious discussion of politics sorely lacking. I enjoyed the creative and in many ways quite thoughtful treatment of the practical and moral risks associated with geoengineering, though my own views differ somewhat from the authors. Scaremongering might be a useful and sobering antidote to overzealous techno-optimism, but if the "free-driver" effect means that geoengineering is more likely a question of when rather than if, I feel we have an obligation to think hard about how to do it "well" (whatever that means).

  14. 5 out of 5

    Remo

    This is an OK book with two main points. Carbon should be taxed and we shouldn't engage in geoengineering. (Although, from my perspective, industrialization is geoengineering our planet.) I didn't realize the extent that instead of taxing carbon many nations actually subsidize fossil fuels. Also, the point that the potential "unknown unknowns" increase the need for action was interesting. The comparison to taking out insurance on low probability events was a good one, and I thought convincing. I This is an OK book with two main points. Carbon should be taxed and we shouldn't engage in geoengineering. (Although, from my perspective, industrialization is geoengineering our planet.) I didn't realize the extent that instead of taxing carbon many nations actually subsidize fossil fuels. Also, the point that the potential "unknown unknowns" increase the need for action was interesting. The comparison to taking out insurance on low probability events was a good one, and I thought convincing. I really doubt I'm going to hurt someone with my car, but I have insurance in case I do. I hedge my investment bets. Why not put significant effort into combating climate change, which most scientists agree will dramatically alter our world? Downsides to the book, it's repetitive and preachy.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mario

    Although the book's title advertises its main theme as the *economic* consequences of climate change, it primarily deals with the collective action problems associated with responding to this issue. This wasn't what I was expecting when I purchased this book to read, but it still ended up being fairly compelling. Wagner and Weitzman do a decent job of breaking down the obstacles associated with tackling climate change, including the uncertainty of its likelihood and impact, the challenge of gett Although the book's title advertises its main theme as the *economic* consequences of climate change, it primarily deals with the collective action problems associated with responding to this issue. This wasn't what I was expecting when I purchased this book to read, but it still ended up being fairly compelling. Wagner and Weitzman do a decent job of breaking down the obstacles associated with tackling climate change, including the uncertainty of its likelihood and impact, the challenge of getting societies to shoulder the costs, and the risk of unintended consequences that proposed solutions may inflict.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    Fine overview, nice to have all the basic economic ideas about climate change in one spot. The authors provide a good overview of the science, including what's still unpredictable. Then they explain the economics of how we might cope with it. There's more here on geoengineering (e.g., shooting sulfur into the atmosphere to counteract the effects of global warming) than I would have expected, largely because they think it will be cheap enough that someone will have a financial incentive to do it Fine overview, nice to have all the basic economic ideas about climate change in one spot. The authors provide a good overview of the science, including what's still unpredictable. Then they explain the economics of how we might cope with it. There's more here on geoengineering (e.g., shooting sulfur into the atmosphere to counteract the effects of global warming) than I would have expected, largely because they think it will be cheap enough that someone will have a financial incentive to do it (in contrast to reducing CO2 emissions, which may have too many international free rider problems to get right). Certainly not an optimistic book. But it's pretty short, so if you're looking for a good overview on what you need to know about climate change, this is a good one.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jess Sohn

    I could only get halfway through before giving up on this. I'm pretty disappointed and surprised by how annoyed I was since I agree with the premise! The authors are economists, not writers, and fail to organize their thoughts into a clearly digestible narrative, and instead scatter paragraph length sections of unconvincing ideas or inscrutable figures and graphs (with question marks for figures!) in a random fashion. I'll be attempting Naomi Klein's book on the same subject next.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    Not about climate science but about making decisions of the utmost importance under the utmost uncertainty. Explains different methods of pricing carbon, examines pros and cons of geoengineering. Does not go as much as I'd have liked into utility of a carbon tax. Makes a big point that the future price of carbon should not be discounted more than 2% at the most, but alas I could not get understand why. I want this on my shelf of climate reference books. Extensive end notes are a plus.

  19. 5 out of 5

    David Zerangue

    This is not a bad book, but it is not great, either. It is rather short. You can tell it is an amalgamation of various papers because each chapter presents in a very unique way. There is nothing overly revealing in this book. However, the topic is valid and the approach is sound. Sometimes dry. Sometimes entertaining. Always sobering.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jackson Long

    While the first chapter is a bit overwhelming, the rest of the book is well-paced and easy to digest. If you think climate change is a big problem that's going to be hard to tackle, you won't find yourself challenged very often, but it will sharpen your toolkit and try to put numbers behind this chaotic science.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Joe Kurtek

    Thought the book was like Cliffnotes covering the climate crisis of Global Warming. I wanted something to dig my teeth into a little more, this really didn’t offer that. But, ultimately, can’t blame that on the book, that was its purpose. Just didn’t really love it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Vaibhav

    While the book offers an in depth analysis of global warming with facts and figures, storyline is loose and leaves wondering of the logical sequence of sections. Feels more like reading a scientific paper than an scientific journalism book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nick DeFiesta

    climate through a neoliberal economic lens. great if you want bloodless discussions on asset pricing and discount rates

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jani-Petri

    Was expecting more... A bit of a mess, I am afraid. Clearly written in a rush and would have needed more time and effort.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Maren

    Couldn't even finish it. I was reading Lab Girl at the same time and could hardly pay attention to this one because it was not engaging at all.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    I read it because I saw that the authors were recommended as foremost climate economists. There were a few main points that I understood and made sense: the uncertainty and impossibility of forecasting how long we have before life on earth as we know it becomes impossible; how to forecast or estimate costs of various means of mitigation; geoengineering may be the least costly method but results are unpredictable and most importantly, rogue practitioners could greatly endanger everyone and would I read it because I saw that the authors were recommended as foremost climate economists. There were a few main points that I understood and made sense: the uncertainty and impossibility of forecasting how long we have before life on earth as we know it becomes impossible; how to forecast or estimate costs of various means of mitigation; geoengineering may be the least costly method but results are unpredictable and most importantly, rogue practitioners could greatly endanger everyone and would be close to impossible to control, so best not to even try that method; if you want to profit from the new situation, divest from fossil fuels now. The debate between carbon taxing and carbon cap and trade was presented: I don't see why both a tax and a cap (but no trade) could not be implemented. The presentation kind of rambled in spots, and I think some humor was injected but I wasn't savvy enough to be sure.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Martin Rowe

    Written with brio, wit, and some passion, this short, punchy (if somewhat repetitive) book is an excellent primer for the non-specialist on the risks of doing nothing or not enough about climate change and on how we might statistically and economically evaluate the various responses--political, economic, technological, and personal--to the inevitable disruptions that climate change will pose in the near, medium-term, and long-term future. They offer a timely and much-needed reminder that environ Written with brio, wit, and some passion, this short, punchy (if somewhat repetitive) book is an excellent primer for the non-specialist on the risks of doing nothing or not enough about climate change and on how we might statistically and economically evaluate the various responses--political, economic, technological, and personal--to the inevitable disruptions that climate change will pose in the near, medium-term, and long-term future. They offer a timely and much-needed reminder that environmentalism needs to move beyond personal virtue toward public policy, that it's already too late to prevent massive disruption to the planet's ecosystems, and that adapting and creating resilience cannot be achieved without political will, public policy, and popular engagement. The authors urge action now on instituting some form of carbon tax. They believe that probabilities and models (however uncertain) demand that imperfect action now is always better than waiting around for the supposed perfect technology. It's clear the authors see geo-engineering (their preferred version being the seeding of sulfur crystals in the atmosphere to lower global temperature) as a great option: in spite of some concerns, they feel it offers the biggest bang for the buck and may in the end be all that we are left with unless (or even if) we drastically reduce our carbon emissions. But even here, their assessment is sobering.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lyndell

    Gernot Wagner is the lead senior economist at the Environmental Defense Fund, a member of the adjunct faculty at Columbia and a research associate at the Harvard University’s Kennedy School. Martin L. Weitzman is a Professor of Economics at Harvard University. In Climate Shock, the authors apply risk management and economic analysis tools to the issue of climate change. Wagner and Wietzman start off by describing the huge scale and complexity of the climate change challenge writing that: “Climat Gernot Wagner is the lead senior economist at the Environmental Defense Fund, a member of the adjunct faculty at Columbia and a research associate at the Harvard University’s Kennedy School. Martin L. Weitzman is a Professor of Economics at Harvard University. In Climate Shock, the authors apply risk management and economic analysis tools to the issue of climate change. Wagner and Wietzman start off by describing the huge scale and complexity of the climate change challenge writing that: “Climate change is unlike any other environmental, really unlike any other public policy issue problem. It’s almost uniquely global, uniquely long-term, uniquely irreversible, and uniquely uncertain – certainly unique in the combination of all four.” The authors then go on to discuss a range of possible policy prescriptions to help to address the problem of global warning, while acknowledging that the most of the damage that has already been done will be impossible to reverse. Wagner and Wietzman concede that implementing the various prescriptions is very difficult due to the unique and complex nature of the problem. But the writers contend that the economic consequences of climate change will be catastrophic if radical action is not taken soon. The writers stress that action is essential both at the government policy level and at the individual level. Climate Shock is a unique book in that it takes two complex issues – economics and the science of climate change - and presents them in a package that is accessible to the average reader. Climate Shock is a highly instructive and very easy to read book that should be required reading for every politician, policy maker, senior civil servant and business leader.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bevan

    This book examines climate change and global warming using the tools of risk management and economic analysis. The result is shocking, as the title implies. Basically stated, the possibility of global catastrophe is probable by the year 2100 if we continue on our present course. Even a 10 percent probability of disastrous climate change is not something that a sane person would want to risk, and this is exactly what many scientists forecast. And that is the low end of the forecast! A 30 percent This book examines climate change and global warming using the tools of risk management and economic analysis. The result is shocking, as the title implies. Basically stated, the possibility of global catastrophe is probable by the year 2100 if we continue on our present course. Even a 10 percent probability of disastrous climate change is not something that a sane person would want to risk, and this is exactly what many scientists forecast. And that is the low end of the forecast! A 30 percent probability of catastrophe is, well, depressing. Yet, many scientists believe it may be possible. My only quibble with this book, but perhaps outside its scope, is that the authors mention only in passing the possibility of violent conflicts - wars in other words - between opponents of solutions to climate change and those who want to do something about it. To use a pun, we are only now just seeing the tip of the iceberg regarding this kind of problem. Despite the grimness of the subject, the book is written in a very pleasant style, with a degree of humor that one doesn't always find in books on the subject.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Five stars for importance of topic, and five stars for the strength of the message. However, this very slight book is so full of caveats, sentence fragments, and hedging that it became very frustrating to read. I fully understand that the reason for this cautious tone is because the authors are scientists. But in writing a book for the general reader, it is a mistake to write as if you're only audience is going to be fellow scientists. It is only in the concluding chapter, in which the authors s Five stars for importance of topic, and five stars for the strength of the message. However, this very slight book is so full of caveats, sentence fragments, and hedging that it became very frustrating to read. I fully understand that the reason for this cautious tone is because the authors are scientists. But in writing a book for the general reader, it is a mistake to write as if you're only audience is going to be fellow scientists. It is only in the concluding chapter, in which the authors some up all the material that has come before, that we see some of their passion. All that being said, the material in this book was very useful for me as I write my novel. And there was one unexpected treat, which was the odd screenplay fragment the authors included, in which a James Bond villain begins to go rogue and inject sulfur into the stratosphere!

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