Climate change: Lessons for our Future from the Distant Past
Professor of Economics, Sir David Hendry, gave a talk at the Smith School on ‘Climate Change: Lessons for our Future from the Distant Past’ in September 2011.
Seminar Summary: We consider information from many sciences bearing on the causes and consequences of climate change, focusing on lessons from past mass extinctions of life on Earth. The increasing atmospheric levels of the main greenhouse gases are now established, as is their source in human activity. World-wide temperatures are rising on a high variance stochastic trend. Evidence from the past 500 million years provides a major warning: climate change is the main culprit in previous mass extinctions, with several different triggers–humanity is the latest trigger. The different approaches and sources of evidence across so many disciplines make a compelling case. Economic analysis offers a number of ideas, but the key problem is that distributions can shift, making action to avoid possible future shifts urgent. Adaptation ceases to be meaningful if food, water and land resources become inadequate, whereas the first mitigation steps are not costly and should stimulate innovation, creating opportunities as new technologies develop.
- Speaker Biography: David F. Hendry, Kt, is Professor of Economics, Fellow of Nuffield College, University of Oxford and Director, Institute for Economic Modelling, Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford, and the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET). He was previously Professor of Econometrics, London School of Economics. He was Knighted in 2009; is an Honorary Vice-President and past President Royal Economic Society; Fellow, British Academy, Royal Society of Edinburgh, and Econometric Society; Foreign Honorary Member, American Economic Association and American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has received seven Honorary Doctorates as well as the Guy Medal in Bronze by the Royal Statistical Society. He is listed by the ISI as one of the world’s 200 most cited economists, and has published more than 200 papers and 25 books on econometric methods, theory, modelling, and history; numerical techniques; computing; empirical economics; and forecasting.