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Ethics and the economist: What climate change demands of us

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  • Nelson, J.A.

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 economists, as human beings and as professionals? 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 should take as researchers, teachers, and in our other roles.

Suggested Citation

  • Nelson, J.A., 2013. "Ethics and the economist: What climate change demands of us," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 145-154.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:85:y:2013:i:c:p:145-154
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2011.07.029
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Toman Michael, 2014. "The need for multiple types of information to inform climate change assessment," Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis, De Gruyter, vol. 5(3), pages 469-485, December.
    2. Julie A. Nelson, 2012. "Poisoning the Well, or How Economic Theory Damages Moral Imagination," GDAE Working Papers 12-07, GDAE, Tufts University.
    3. Valentinov, Vladislav, 2014. "K. William Kapp's theory of social costs: A Luhmannian interpretation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 28-33.
    4. Delf Neubersch & Hermann Held & Alexander Otto, 2014. "Operationalizing climate targets under learning: An application of cost-risk analysis," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 126(3), pages 305-318, October.
    5. Julie A. Nelson, 2012. "Are Women Really More Risk-Averse than Men?," GDAE Working Papers 12-05, GDAE, Tufts University.
    6. Julie A. Nelson, 2012. "Is Dismissing the Precautionary Principle the Manly Thing to Do? Gender and the Economics of Climate Change," GDAE Working Papers 12-04, GDAE, Tufts University.
    7. Julie A. Nelson, 2011. "11-03 "Would Women Leaders Have Prevented the Global Financial Crisis? Implications for Teaching about Gender, Behavior, and Economics"," GDAE Working Papers 11-03, GDAE, Tufts University.
    8. Timothy A. Wise, 2012. "The Cost to Mexico of U.S. Corn Ethanol Expansion," GDAE Working Papers 12-01, GDAE, Tufts University.
    9. Antonio Turrent Fernández & Timothy A. Wise & Elise Garvey, 2012. "Achieving Mexico’s Maize Potential," GDAE Working Papers 12-03, GDAE, Tufts University.
    10. Maria S. Floro, 2012. "The Crises of Environment and Social Reproduction: Understanding their Linkages," Working Papers 2012-04, American University, Department of Economics.

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