Sunday, September 23, 2012

Why Does the IPCC Ignore the Environmental Economists?

Have you read this new 594 page report by the IPCC?  This volunteer crew writes updated reports about what we know and don't know about climate change's causes and consequences.   The media such as the New York Times pay careful attention to what these reports say.  This crew has even won a Nobel Peace Prize! For those of you who are too lazy to read a 594 single spaced report, here is the executive summary.

The 594 page report cites roughly 4,000 papers but by my crude calculation only 5 of them were published by economists in economics journals.   Yes, my 2005 RESTAT paper is cited on page 282 but that doesn't make me feel any better.   Are you telling me that 20 years of economics research has created less than (5/4000) = .12% of the literature on this subject?

There appears to be a strange bias going on here.  Is it politically motivated?  Take a look at this roster of environmental economists at NBER.  Roughly 25% of this group have worked on topics that are relevant to the issues of risk exposure and self protection and political economy discussed throughout the IPCC report.

Take a look at the U.S authors associated with this IPCC report. They are listed on page 552.  Howard Kunreuther of Wharton is the only economist that I have heard of on this list.  For the rest of the hundreds of authors listed, does this group think highly of economists?  The answer appears to be "no" based on their citation trail.   Why?  Is it our belief that people respond to incentives and form expectations of the future to pursue their own goals?  Is it our fondness for free markets and our focus on measuring the unintended consequences of government policy?

UPDATE:  I suggest that there are at least 40 papers published in the Journal of Risk and Uncertainty alone that would merit citation in the IPCC Report.