Climate Shock: The Economic Consequences of a Hotter Planet

Author(s): Gernot Wagner


If you had a 10 percent chance of having a fatal car accident, you'd take necessary precautions. If your finances had a 10 percent chance of suffering a severe loss, you'd reevaluate your assets. So if we know the world is warming and there's a 10 percent chance this might eventually lead to a catastrophe beyond anything we could imagine, why aren't we doing more about climate change right now? We insure our lives against an uncertain future--why not our planet? In Climate Shock, Gernot Wagner and Martin Weitzman explore in lively, clear terms the likely repercussions of a hotter planet, drawing on and expanding from work previously unavailable to general audiences. They show that the longer we wait to act, the more likely an extreme event will happen. A city might go underwater. A rogue nation might shoot particles into the Earth's atmosphere, geoengineering cooler temperatures. Zeroing in on the unknown extreme risks that may yet dwarf all else, the authors look at how economic forces that make sensible climate policies difficult to enact, make radical would-be fixes like geoengineering all the more probable. What we know about climate change is alarming enough. What we don't know about the extreme risks could be far more dangerous. Wagner and Weitzman help readers understand that we need to think about climate change in the same way that we think about insurance--as a risk management problem, only here on a global scale. With a new preface addressing recent developments Wagner and Weitzman demonstrate that climate change can and should be dealt with--and what could happen if we don't do so--tackling the defining environmental and public policy issue of our time.


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One of Financial Times ( Best Books in Economics 2015, chosen by Martin Wolf A Financial Times Summer Books 2015 selection One of the Globalist's Top Books of 2015 Longlisted for the FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year 2015 "[Climate Shock] is a witty, far-ranging, and literate set of observations...[I]t is always informed by a deep understanding of the complexities of economics and particularly the difficulties of reaching international environmental agreements."--William D. Nordhaus, New York Review of Books [See full review] "'Top 10: Business & Economics' for Spring 2015."--Publishers Weekly [See full review] "Economists Gernot Wagner and Martin Weitzman deliver a high-voltage shock in their analysis of the costs of climate change."--Nature [See full review] "[U]seful for policy workers in helping shape dollars-and-cents arguments about the environment and global climate."--Kirkus [See full review] "[A]n impressive (and concise) book."--Diane Coyle, Enlightened Economist [See full review] "This informative, convincing, and easily read book offers general audiences the basic case for global climate mitigation."--Ian Parry, Finance & Development [See full review] "This book represents a synthesis of research and offers a clear-headed look at what must be done."--Toronto Star [See full review] "Climate Shock is refreshing in many ways: it starts with a pop quiz, reveals the script of a (possible) new James Bond film and gives you the solution to climate change on page 23. That should be enough to entice a broad readership. However, the book's true value lies elsewhere, in the authors' ability to present a complex and multifaceted topic in plain, simple terms. They challenge assumptions and don't shy away from a clear call for action."--Swenja Surminski, Times Higher Education "For the intelligent lay reader wanting a lively, lucid assessment of the economic consequences of global warming... [W]ell worth reading."--Pilita Clark, Financial Times [See full review] "[Climate Shock] combines sophisticated analysis with a breezy, informal style."-- Foreign Affairs [See full review] "[A] sobering wake-up call ... In my mind, this book should be required reading for any policymaker. The world might actually make some real progress, then."--Tibi Puiu, ZME Science [See full review] "In Wagner and Weitzman's new book, they present a well written analysis of the tradeoffs we collectively face as we unintentionally unleash climate change. They argue that a risk averse person or nation should buy insurance to protect itself--especially when the losses from climate change are ambiguous and fat tail risk could be huge. The book is well argued and I highly recommend it. The economic approach to discussing climate change offers a new prospective relative to the issues that climate scientists focus on."--Matthew E. Kahn, Green Economics [See full review] "[A] welcome new addition to the growing library of depressing but important books about climate change."--Tom Watson, Real Change News [See full review] "[Climate Shock] delivers a brief but thorough look at the changing climate from economists' perspective, comparing global warming with other risks and dangers that humanity faces... [T]he book does serve as a call to arms for business owners and leaders, economists, and policymakers who have been searching for a purely rational, finance-focused take on climate change."--Katie Fehrenbacher, Strategy + Business [See full review] "[A] punchy new book."--Martin Wolf, Financial Times [See full review] "[A] terrific new book."--Martin Sandbu, Financial Times [See full review] "Climate Shock should shift our narrative on climate change... Wagner and Weitzman have some policy recommendations, including electricity-grid reform and higher gas taxes. But the real power of their book is its explanation of the right way to think about climate change. Do we really want to take an 11 percent gamble with the planet?"--Peter Orszag, Bloomberg View [See full review] "Climate Shock is an authoritative call to arms for tackling the defining environmental and public policy issue of our time."--LSE [See full review] "[A] lively and thought-provoking book."--Financial Times [See full review] "Climate Shock could have reasonably been called But Will the People Notice? It's a layperson's survey of climate economics, a field that includes cost-benefit analysis and other economic research on climate change impacts and climate change policies... Beyond just being mathematically accessible--an accomplishment in itself--Climate Shock is an unconventional book that takes risks in an effort to connect with audiences who might otherwise turn away."Yoram Bauman, Reports of the National Center for Science Education "Overflowing with analytical insights and simple suggestions to transform the way we live and manage ourselves."--Deccan Herald

Gernot Wagner is lead senior economist at the Environmental Defense Fund. Martin L. Weitzman is professor of economics at Harvard University. For more, see .

General Fields

  • : 9780691171326
  • : Princeton University Press
  • : Princeton University Press
  • : April 2016
  • : 203mm X 127mm
  • : United States
  • : March 2016
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 3 line illus. 5 tables.
  • : Gernot Wagner
  • : Paperback
  • : Revised edition
  • : English
  • : 333.72
  • : 264