Ethics and the Economist: What Climate Change Demands of Us

Global Development and Environment Institute Working Paper No. 11-02

43 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2011

See all articles by Julie A. Nelson

Julie A. Nelson

University of Massachusetts at Boston - Department of Economics; Tufts University - Global Development and Environment Institute

Date Written: May 2011

Abstract

Climate change is changing not only our physical world, but also our intellectual, social, and moral worlds. We are realizing that our situation is profoundly unsafe, interdependent, and uncertain. What, then, does climate change demand of us, as human beings and as economists? A discipline of economics based on Enlightenment notions of mechanism and disembodied rationality is not suited to present problems. This essay suggests three major requirements: First, that we take action; second, that we work together; and third, that we focus on avoiding the worst, rather than obtaining the optimal. The essay concludes with suggestions of specific steps that economists can take as researchers, teachers, and in our other roles.

Keywords: climate change, ethics, catastrophe, uncertainty, interdependence, Enlightenment, responsibility, embodied reason

JEL Classification: A11, A13, Q54, Q57

Suggested Citation

Nelson, Julie A., Ethics and the Economist: What Climate Change Demands of Us (May 2011). Global Development and Environment Institute Working Paper No. 11-02. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1862229 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1862229

Julie A. Nelson (Contact Author)

University of Massachusetts at Boston - Department of Economics ( email )

100 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, MA 02125
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.umb.edu/academics/cla/dept/economics/faculty/facultyNelson.html

Tufts University - Global Development and Environment Institute ( email )

MA
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gdae/about_us/researchers.html#nelson

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
74
Abstract Views
593
rank
315,601
PlumX Metrics