William D. Nordhaus is Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale. His most recent book is The Climate Casino. (October 2015)

The Pope & the Market

Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment and capitalism overlooks the central part that markets, particularly market-based environmental policies such as carbon pricing, must play if countries are to make substantial progress in slowing global warming.

A New Solution: The Climate Club

John Palmer, the resident doctor onboard the icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov, watching two icebergs about to collide in the Ross Sea off Franklin Island, Antarctica, December 2006; photograph by Camille Seaman from her book Melting Away: A Ten-Year Journey Through Our Endangered Polar Regions, just published by Princeton Architectural Press
Climate change has become the premier environmental issue facing the globe. Carbon dioxide emissions continue to grow and accumulate in the atmosphere. The average global temperature in 2014 was the highest recorded over the last century and a half. Most scientists say that climate change is a “very serious problem.” Yet virtually no progress has been made in convincing the general public of its serious nature, nor have significant steps been taken to curb emissions and slow warming. Why has progress been so halting?

Why the Global Warming Skeptics Are Wrong

Icebergs in Iceland’s Jökulsárlón lagoon, which is constantly growing as the Vatnajökull glacier—Europe’s largest—melts; photograph by Olaf Otto Becker from his book Under the Nordic Light: A Journey Through Time, Iceland, 1999–2011, which has just been published by Hatje Cantz
The threat of climate change is an increasingly important environmental issue for the globe. At a time when we need to clarify public confusions about the science and economics of climate change, skeptics have muddied the waters. I will describe their mistakes and explain the findings of current climate science and economics.

Energy: Friend or Enemy?

A firefighter under a protective chemical spray at Kuwait’s Greater Burhan Oil Field, which retreating Iraqi troops had set on fire, 1991; photograph by Sebastião Salgado
We need national policies that address the enemies of pollution and global warming. But because energy is such a large part of consumer budgets and so central to our advanced economies, people are reluctant to allow energy prices to reflect the true social costs of energy consumption. We see this tradeoff play out in energy and environmental policy year in and year out.

The Story of a Bubble

For our purposes, the “fabulous Nineties” can be bracketed by two major political events. The fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, marked the end of the cold war and the beginning of a period of geopolitical optimism. The Soviet empire disintegrated, the great powers unified Germany, and …

Iraq: The Economic Consequences of War

The United States is marching, two steps forward and one step backward, toward war with Iraq. The Bush administration has articulated its reasons for war, but has produced no official estimates of the costs. Although cost estimates are often ignored when war is debated, most people recognize that the costs …