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Evolution of Assessments of the Economics of Global Warming: Changes in the DICE model, 1992 – 2017

Listed author(s):
  • William D. Nordhaus

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 finds 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).

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 23319.

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Date of creation: Apr 2017
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23319
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  1. William Nordhaus, 2014. "Estimates of the Social Cost of Carbon: Concepts and Results from the DICE-2013R Model and Alternative Approaches," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 000.
  2. Nordhaus, William D., 1993. "Rolling the 'DICE': an optimal transition path for controlling greenhouse gases," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 27-50, March.
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