climate change climate science and economics prospects for an alternative energy future pdf
My exposure to climate related research actually began as a doctoral student in
Agricultural and Resource Economics at Oregon State University. In a research
methods course, one of my advisors, Dr. John (‘Jack’) Edwards, commented upon
his efforts to complete his Ph.D. dissertation in Economics from the University of
Chicago. He was examining the effects of climate on agriculture and, after running
numerous regressions that confounded cause and effect, he fi nally completed the
research by applying a large dose of economic theory and a simple regression model.
But it was not until I had taken a position in Agricultural Economics at the University
of Saskatchewan that, in the mid-1980s, the question of climate change and global
warming came to my attention.
Elaine Wheaton of the Saskatchewan Research Council in Saskatoon put together
a team of researchers to examine the effect of anthropogenic climate change on
Canada’s boreal forests, potential strategies for forest-sector adaptation, and the role
that Canada’s forests might play in mitigating climate change. We completed Phase
I of the research for Environment Canada by 1987 and put together a larger team of
researchers for the promised Phase II, but then the Canadian government backed
away from climate research and there was no Phase II. During this period, I also
worked with Louise Arthur who was at the University of Manitoba, where her
research focused on the impacts of climate change on prairie agriculture.
We combined our talents and published several papers on climate change related to agriculture and forestry in western Canada. The research was unfunded for the most part and, by the early 1990s, we were overtaken by well-funded American researchers, who had the ability to develop large-scale, national-level models of the forest and agricultural sectors – our research was relegated to the periphery.
During the 1990s and until recently, I focused primarily on the economics of mitigating climate change through carbon sequestration in terrestrial ecosystems. I discuss this line of research in Chap. 9. It led to my appointment in 2002 as the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Studies and Climate in the Department of Economics at the University of Victoria (UVic), and to my involvement as a contributing author to the chapter on forestry in the 2007 report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). At UVic, I was surprised at the politicization of climate research and the lack of focus, despite ongoing efforts in a number of areas.