Robert Murphy has a first-rate piece on global warming in which he covers some important new ground. First, here’s ground he and I (in a post on his earlier article) have already covered but he says it particularly well:
Yet if we consult Tol’s paper–the very one cited by Nordhaus in support of the above quotation–we find that most economic studies find global warming will confer net benefits on humanity at least through the years 2050 – 2060. Only after we get at least another 2 degrees Celsius of warming (and that is compared to a recent baseline, not a preindustrial benchmark), do most studies in this literature say that the damages to certain parts of the world begin to overwhelm the benefits to other parts of the world.
As I mentioned in my IER post, I hope the average reader will agree with me that Nordhaus’s summary of Tol’s findings was extremely misleading (perhaps unintentionally). I daresay the average person, relying on mainstream media treatment of the issue, has been led to believe that “the consensus” of experts believes climate change is right now causing incredible damage and will only get worse as time passes.
And yet, the very person Nordhaus singled out as the leading scholar in the field, shows that the majority of the best available studies show global warming leading to net benefits at least for another four decades. (italics his)
Here’s the new ground. It’s on the difference between how the climate people and how economists think about confidence intervals. And it’s a huge difference: