Science Book a Day Interviews William Nordhaus


Special thanks to William Nordhaus for answering 5 questions about his recently featured book – The Climate Casino: Risk, Uncertainty, and Economics for a Warming World

William Nordhaus is Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA. He completed his undergraduate work at Yale University in 1963 and received his Ph.D. in Economics in 1967 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been on the faculty of Yale University since 1967 and has been Full Professor of Economics since 1973. He is also Professor in Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.  – Adapted from Yale’s Profile Page

#1 – What was the impetus behind The Climate Casino?

People would ask me, what is a good book on the economics of climate change? I didn’t have an answer, so I decided to write one myself.

#2 – Who have you written this book for?

For students, professionals, public-policy types, Congressional staff. Primarily for those who are not dug in on one side or another and have open minds.

#3 – A computer model – DICE plays an important role in your book. How was DICE developed?

Long story going  back to 1974. I am an economic modeler, and this grew out of energy modeling that started at the time of the oil crises. I just followed my interests and instinct. True, it took a very long time, but it’s a hard problem.

#4 – Your book tries to draw attention to what we can do economically to reduce the effects of climate change. Why do you think governments have been so slow to act?

Many reasons, explored in part V. The fundamental problems are that it is a global problem for which no single nation has a strong interest in solving and the time profile of costs and benefits means that we need to act now to prevent damages many decades in the future. Add irrational elements like anti-tax fervor and vested interests, and it is slower than slow.

#5 – Are you working any any new books/projects you can tell us about?

I currently have book fatigue. But my next two projects are: (1) Revision of our introductory textbook, Economics, now in 19th edition. (2) A study of the economic and political philosophy of William Buckley, tentatively titled, Are God and Men Dead at Yale?

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