Common Tragedies

Thoughts on Environmental Economics

Negative feedback quote of the day

Posted by Rich Sweeney on March 7, 2008

Today at RFF Billy Pizer and Roger Cooke gave a seminar on Martin Weitzman’s new fat tails paper. Billy was explaining how integrated assessment models work, and how they’re not really calibrated to deal with the types of catastrophic temperature increases Wietzman is concerned with. Basically the way these models actually work is that the direct human effect on climate leads to positive feedback in the system as a whole. Billy went on to say that in the extreme scenario of, lets say, a 15-20% temperature increase, all sorts of negative feedbacks would probably kick in, driving the temperature back down a bit. To this, Roger responded (paraphrasing) “Human extinction would provide a negative feedback.”  Funny how easy it is to lose sight of that fact amidst all the short term wonkery.

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