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Climate Shock: The Economic Consequences of a Hotter Planet Hardcover – February 22, 2015

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Editorial Reviews


2016 Outstanding Book of the Year "Most Likely to Save the Planet," Independent Publisher Book Awards

One of Financial Times (FT.com) 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 http://bit.do/ClimateShock-NYRB-Nordhaus]

"'Top 10: Business & Economics' for Spring 2015."--Publishers Weekly [See full review http://bit.do/ClimateShock-PublishersWeekly]

"Economists Gernot Wagner and Martin Weitzman deliver a high-voltage shock in their analysis of the costs of climate change."--Nature [See full review http://bit.do/ClimateShock-Nature]

"[U]seful for policy workers in helping shape dollars-and-cents arguments about the environment and global climate."--Kirkus [See full review http://bit.do/ClimateShock-Kirkus]

"[A]n impressive (and concise) book."--Diane Coyle, Enlightened Economist [See full review http://bit.do/ClimateShock-EnlightenedEcon]

"This informative, convincing, and easily read book offers general audiences the basic case for global climate mitigation."--Ian Parry, Finance & Development [See full review http://bit.do/ClimateShock-FD-Parry]

"This book represents a synthesis of research and offers a clear-headed look at what must be done."--Toronto Star [See full review http://bit.do/ClimateShock-TorontoStar]

"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 http://www.bit.do/ClimateShock-FT-Clark]

"[Climate Shock] combines sophisticated analysis with a breezy, informal style."-- Foreign Affairs [See full review http://bit.do/ClimateShock-FA-Cooper]

"[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 http://bit.do/ClimateShock-ZMES-Puiu]

"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 http://bit.do/ClimateShock-GE-Kahn]

"[A] welcome new addition to the growing library of depressing but important books about climate change."--Tom Watson, Real Change News [See full review http://bit.do/ClimateShock-RCN-Watson]

"[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 http://bit.do/ClimateShock-Strategy-Fehrenbacher]

"[A] punchy new book."--Martin Wolf, Financial Times [See full review http://bit.do/ClimateShock-FT-Wolf]

"[A] terrific new book."--Martin Sandbu, Financial Times [See full review http://bit.do/ClimateShock-FT-Sandbu]

"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 http://bit.do/ClimateShock-Bloomberg-Orszag]

"Climate Shock is an authoritative call to arms for tackling the defining environmental and public policy issue of our time."--LSE [See full review http://bit.do/ClimateShock-LSE]

"[A] lively and thought-provoking book."--Financial Times [See full review http://bit.do/ClimateShock-FT-summerbooks]

"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

"A brilliant analysis of the fragility of our debt-fuelled economies."--Martin Wolf, Financial Times, a FT Best Book of 2015

"Economists Gernot Wagner and Martin Weitzman deliver a stinging slap to the reluctant or somnolent negotiator."--Barbara Kiser, Nature.com's A View from the Bridge blog

From the Back Cover

"A remarkable book on climate change, Climate Shock is deeply insightful, challenging, eye-opening, thought-provoking, and sheer fun to read. It will help you to think clearly and incisively about one of the most important issues of our generation."--Jeffrey Sachs, author of The Price of Civilization

"Climate Shock is a brilliant, clear, rigorous, and to-the-point account of the problem of climate change and what we can and should do about it. The book's approach to risk--which factors in deep uncertainties--is vastly more sophisticated than the standard methods. An outstanding book."--Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan and Antifragile

"The recent financial crisis was largely the result of an economy set up to privatize benefits and socialize costs. The same holds true for the climate crisis. Let's avoid doing to the planet what we did to the economy, and let's begin by taking the economics of climate change seriously. Climate Shock shows conclusively how bad the problem truly is and how we can fix it."--Van Jones, founder and president of Green for All and author of The Green Collar Economy

"Think climate change is a low-priority problem? Something to put off while we deal with more immediate threats? Then Climate Shock will open your eyes. Leading economists Wagner and Weitzman explain, in simple, understandable terms, why we face an existential threat in human-caused climate change. The authors lay out the case for taking out a planetary insurance policy, without delay, in the form of market mechanisms aimed at keeping carbon emissions below dangerous levels."--Michael E. Mann, author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars

"Cutting through the fog of excuses, obfuscation, and misguided solutions, Climate Shock takes a clear look at the risks and dangers of inaction on climate change. Wagner and Weitzman show the urgent need for fact-based, rational analysis of big environmental challenges so that we can move forward in the quickest and most practical way possible."--Mark R. Tercek, president and CEO of the Nature Conservancy and author of Nature's Fortune

"Wagner and Weitzman's Climate Shock explores two of the most alarming risks from climate change: unpredictable catastrophes and the all-too-foreseeable human tampering with the environment. They explain how the same political barriers to addressing the problem will leave nations racing to deflect the damage through geoengineering. For anyone interested in the new risk landscape of our changing climate, Climate Shock is a compelling and highly recommended read."--Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group

"In this clear and engaging exegesis on the risks from global warming, Wagner and Weitzman show that our options for avoiding calamity rapidly narrow toward a few unappetizing possibilities if we don't slash carbon emissions comprehensively and fast."--Michael Oppenheimer, Princeton University

"Climate Shock fascinates, infuriates, motivates. It's an illuminating guidebook to how the climate debate will unfold over the coming decade. But first and foremost, it's a call to action. Now."--Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund

"Climate Shock is a clear, well-argued introduction to the economics of climate policy."--David Keith, author of A Case for Climate Engineering

"Do you want to be challenged and stretched? Climate Shock gives broad perspectives and logical tools that will let you think through the threat of climate change on the level of the best minds on this planet."--Peter C. Goldmark Jr., former president of the Rockefeller Foundation and former CEO of the International Herald Tribune

"What happens when one of the world's leading economists who thinks seriously about global climate change gets together with one of the world's top writers about matters environmental and economic? Climate Shock. From the first page to the last, this important, new book is both exceptionally interesting and surprisingly fun. Now, that's shocking!"--Robert N. Stavins, Harvard University

"Climate Shock demolishes the argument made by climate change skeptics for business as usual."--Ted Steinberg, author of Gotham Unbound

"I cannot think of a better team than Wagner and Weitzman to communicate the risks of inaction on climate change. Their unbiased and informative book Climate Shock dives right into the complexities of the issues and explains them clearly. It provides new and invigorating context for readers."--Juan Moreno-Cruz, Georgia Institute of Technology

"Climate Shock looks at the key issues in climate change and climate change policy and recommends what actions readers can take to help prevent devastating outcomes. Wagner and Weitzman don't hold back from explaining complicated topics and their arguments are backed by references from the latest scientific and economic literature. This is by far the most engaging presentation of this topic that I have read."--Kenneth Gillingham, Yale University


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (February 22, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691159475
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691159478
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #120,079 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
There are a great many books about climate change out there and they usually fall into one of two basic categories: A) climate change is a hoax, or B) climate change is terrible problem that can be solved by continuing to ramp up the use of renewable energy plus improvements in energy efficiency. This book takes a third approach that I would highly recommend to anyone who cares about this issue. At it's core, the book makes the compelling argument that anthropogenic climate change is a much more serious problem than is generally recognized by even the most ardent environmentalists, let alone the general public. Moreover, solving the problem is far more complex and daunting than is generally understood by those advocating for traditional green solutions (wind, solar, and efficiency).
Understanding the true dimensions of the conundrum we face with climate change is an essential first step in allowing us to make real progress in lessening it's potential to become a civilizational catastrophe. This book does an excellent job in doing just that and is a must-read for environmental leaders and policy makers alike. It's also highly readable (I read it in one sitting) and quite lively - no small feat for a book about climate change from an economic perspective. It's also thoroughly documented. Literally half the book is devoted to footnotes and references for those wishing to challenge it's assertions.
The 'inconvenient truth' we face is that carbon emissions need to go to ZERO in very short order, and the book illustrates this very well. Anything short of that is simply insufficient to solve the problem. If that's not shocking enough for you, there's this: geo-engineering will likely be where we end up and we need to start preparing for that eventuality.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I hope political leaders in the US will consider this required reading, along with business leaders and investors. If all of them just read Kerry Emmanuel's (MIT) "What we Know", followed by "Climate Shock"...it would only be a few hours each on the science and economics/risk management of climate change. And hours well spent they would be!

ps...my only quibble is mixing metaphors with beta and social discount rates, since investment in mitigation bears an uncertain cost, uncertain mitigation, and uncertain climate outcome (ie analogies to bonds aren't all that useful). I think mitigation is better framed as an option on climate stability that is inherently cheap because cost variance < climate damage variance (and cost lacks the fat tail of damages). In any case, Weitzman's climate policy as tail-skimming (not mentioned in the book, but still made quite clear) is the best framing of climate policy, ever.
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Format: Hardcover
Gernot Wagner's first book (But Will the Planet Notice) was spectacular. And now he has teamed up with the brilliant Marty Weitzman to deliver another clear and potent message: there's a substantial risk that, going down the path we are going in changing the Earth's climate, we will face not just very serious problems, but an unimaginable nightmare. And that risk makes prompt and strong action even more vital than we knew.

Somehow, Weitzman and Wagner make the math and statistics that prove their point accessible to dopes like most of us. The book is beautifully written and highly persuasive. It deserves a wide audience.
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This is a book about climate change, including facts about the science behind the problem, but more significantly, calculations behind the economics of climate change. The authors investigate the possibilities of geo-engineering as a counter-weight to the build up of CO2 in the atmosphere. The key here is the logic of reducing the amount of carbon in the first place, and the true monetary costs of carbon per ton.
In addition to the facts and logical arguments contained here, the authors often use humor to underscore their points. This proved to be a instructive and most enjoyable read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Both well-researched and very readable, Climate Shock reframes the discussion on climate change from if climate change poses a threat, to the implications of uncertainty regarding global temperature rise. The book walks the reader through climate change as a risk-management problem, showing the dire consequences of inaction and making an urgent argument for action from an economic perspective. Bottom line—we wouldn’t take a 10 percent gamble on an asset or on our own lives, why would we do so with the planet? Climate Shock takes a perspective on the problem of climate change that is new in non-academic literature, and I would highly recommend it, especially to the reader who is already familiar with climate change.
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I found this book very helpful in suggesting a disciplined approach to addressing how best to respond to, or at least, assess abrupt climate change. The discipline, that of economics, with the specialty of risk management, is what normally would be the basis for addressing really major catastrophic-type problems. But for various reasons, economics analysis hasn’t served its normal role. The authors bring out four factors that make this type of analysis unusually difficult characteristics of this problem: it’s uniquely global, uniquely long-term, uniquely irreversible, and uniquely uncertain.

About the time I was finishing the book, I happened to attend, as an observer, a meeting on how best to respond to sea-level rise along the San Diego coast. The principals comprised of elected officials from several of the coastal cities. As I listened to the comments by the various city officials, I realized I probably had as good or better idea as any of them in how to best approach the problem, and that was because I had just read this book. When it came time for public comments, I took the opportunity to share my insight. I opened my iPad and showed everyone the cover of Climate Shock, then urged them all to get their own copy and read it before their next meeting. The reference to the book was included in the meeting minutes.
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