Evolution of Modeling of the Economics of Global Warming: Changes in the Dice Model, 1992-2017

22 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2017  

William D. Nordhaus

Yale University - Department of Economics; Cowles Foundation, Yale University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: March 9, 2017

Abstract

Many areas of the natural and social sciences involve complex systems that link together multiple sectors. Integrated assessment models (IAMs) are approaches that integrate knowledge from two or more domains into a single framework, and these are particularly important for climate change. One of the earliest IAMs for climate change was the DICE/RICE family of models, first published in Nordhaus (1992), with the latest version in Nordhaus (2017, 2017a). A difficulty in assessing IAMs is the inability to use standard statistical tests because of the lack of a probabilistic structure. In the absence of statistical tests, the present study examines the extent of revisions of the DICE model over its quarter-century history. The study find that the major revisions have come primarily from the economic aspects of the model, whereas the environmental changes have been much smaller. Particularly sharp revisions have occurred for global output, damages, and the social cost of carbon. These results indicate that the economic projections are the least precise parts of IAMs and deserve much greater study than has been the case up to now, especially careful studies of long-run economic growth (to 2100 and beyond).

Keywords: Climate change, Integrated assessment models, DICE model, Revisions

JEL Classification: Q5, Q54, H4

Suggested Citation

Nordhaus, William D., Evolution of Modeling of the Economics of Global Warming: Changes in the Dice Model, 1992-2017 (March 9, 2017). Cowles Foundation Discussion Paper No. 2084. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2931090

William D. Nordhaus (Contact Author)

Yale University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Cowles Foundation, Yale University ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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