Climate Change, Cultural Transformation, and Comprehensive Rationality

36 Pages Posted: 16 May 2004


Economic cost-benefit analysis aims to evaluate regulatory proposals by identifying, monetizing, and comparing the proposals' expected positive and negative consequences. The methodology has been received critically in the area of environmental, health, and safety regulation, where scientific uncertainty, difficulties of valuation, and uncommonly long time horizons are said to render cost-benefit analysis especially problematic. This Essay reviews such criticisms through a discussion of the use cost-benefit analysis in the particular context of climate change policymaking. In this context, generic criticisms of cost-benefit analysis in the environmental, health, and safety area become even more pronounced, raising significant doubt about the methodology's philosophical and practical appropriateness as a guide for climate change policymaking.

Keywords: Environmental law, environmental science, cost-benefit analysis, risk regulation, climate change, global warming

JEL Classification: K0, Q0, K32

Suggested Citation

Kysar, Douglas A., Climate Change, Cultural Transformation, and Comprehensive Rationality. Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review, Vol. 31, pp. 1-35, 2004. Available at SSRN:

Douglas A. Kysar (Contact Author)

Yale University - Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

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