Economists Agree: Cap Carbon, Save the Economy

| Mon Dec. 7, 2009 2:01 PM EST

The climate fight in Congress this year has been dominated not by arguments about science, but economics. Opponents of cap-and-trade legislation have issued dire predictions that regulating carbon will cripple the economy and inflict soaring energy prices on already struggling consumers. They've been able to get away with such attacks by exploiting widespread confusion about what economists really think about the subject. While the scientific consensus of climate change has been well established by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the economics of climate change aren't nearly as well understood. Recently, however, New York University's Institute for Policy Integrity released a groundbreaking survey of top US economists revealing that there is a surprisingly high level of agreement among economists on the dangers of climate change as well as an overwhelming consensus that curbing emissions will help, not hurt, the economy.

"Outside academia the level of consensus among economists is unfortunately not common knowledge," NYU Dean Richard Revesz said at a press conference following the release of the study. "The results are conclusive—there is broad agreement that reducing emissions is likely to have significant economic benefits." The 144 economists who responded to the 12-question survey have all published an article relating to climate change in one of the top economic journals in the past 15 years. Here are the study's three key conclusions:

Get Mother Jones by Email - Free. Like what you're reading? Get the best of MoJo three times a week.