Eric Pooley writes about the consensus amongst economists on global warming. While they disagree on exactly what we should do, they agree on two things: the cost of inaction is much greater than the cost of action, and the cost of action is only about 1% of GDP. He concludes:
Journalists have missed the economic consensus partly because economists are such a querulous bunch–they argue bitterly among themselves even when they agree. When I asked Stavins about the Stern Review, for example, he criticized Stern’s methodology and didn’t mention that he concurs with most of Stern’s broad conclusions.
That sort of quarrelling masks the underlying consensus and communicates a greater degree of discord and uncertainty than actually exists. “One of the strangest things about the Stern Review was that some of the most vociferous comments came from those who drew the most similar conclusions to us,” says economist Dimitri Zenghelis, a lead author of the Stern Review. “In fact, most economists are surprisingly consistent in arguing for early and coordinated action, including cap-and trade-mechanisms.” But because of the intramural vitriol, he says, “journalists and policymakers detect a fog of disagreement and contention and, so, justifiably hold back from setting the record straight.” Economists aren’t likely to change anytime soon. So journalists need to get better at looking past their arguments and seeing where they agree. The consensus is out there.