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In 1990 Yale economist William Nordhaus wrote an article entitled “Count Before You Leap” in which he warned of the consequences of doing too much to prevent climate change given the uncertainties regarding both the effects of climate change and the likelihood that these effects would actually occur. Nordhaus advocated careful cost-benefit analysis based on more certain information regarding climate change rather than a knee-jerk reaction to gloomy prophecies about the end of the world as we know it. He argued that very little economic activity in industrialized societies is dependent on the climate and that significant losses to GNP were likely to be incurred in an effort to mitigate climate change at all. In his words, “A vague premonition of some potential future disaster is insufficient grounds to plunge the world into depression. But if scientists can identify the probability of catastrophic risks, people and governments can then rationally decide how much ‘climate insurance’ to buy”. Thus in Nordhaus’ view, what was known about climate change merited further research but i…
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