William D. Nordhaus is Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale. He has written extensively on economic growth, including studies of the economic impacts of lighting, computation, and improved health. (August 2016)

IN THE REVIEW

Why Growth Will Fall

Gustave Caillebotte: The Floor Planers, 1875

The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The US Standard of Living Since the Civil War

by Robert J. Gordon
Robert Gordon has written a magnificent book on the economic history of the United States over the last one and a half centuries. His study focuses on what he calls the “special century” from 1870 to 1970—in which living standards increased more rapidly than at any time before or after. The book is without peer in providing a statistical analysis of the uneven pace of growth and technological change, in describing the technologies that led to the remarkable progress during the special century, and in concluding with a provocative hypothesis that the future is unlikely to bring anything approaching the economic gains of the earlier period.

The Pope & the Market

Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home

an encyclical letter by Pope Francis
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 Shock: The Economic Consequences of a Hotter Planet

by Gernot Wagner and Martin L. Weitzman
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

The End of Energy: The Unmaking of America's Environment, Security, and Independence

by Michael J. Graetz

Hidden Costs of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use

a report by the National Research Council's Committee on Health, Environmental, and Other External Costs and Benefits of Energy Production and Consumption
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.