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Economists Talk Climate Change at UCSB

11th “Occasional California Workshop” Gives Researchers a Forum


UC Santa Barbara hosted its 11th Occasional California Workshop on Environmental and Natural Resource Economics over the weekend, attended by approximately 100 economists and other researchers. Every 12 to 14 months, the conference gives graduate students, faculty, and other researchers an opportunity to present their research in a workshop setting.

The conference that took place October 9 and 10 was attended by approximately 100 economists and other researchers. It provided an economic perspective on climate change, trying to gauge the effects of potential government policies, and consumer and corporate action.

There was a consensus that government and corporate action, as well as household and individual action, will be required to ease the effects of global warming-but the specific actions and their costs are still in question, and this was a recurring theme during the conference.

Associate Professor Chris Costello, for example, presented a paper entitled Bounded Uncertainty and Climate Change Economics, explaining that the extent of climate change is uncertain, and describing economists’ efforts to maneuver around this problem. UC Berkeley professor Larry Karp, representing the Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics at Berkeley, discussed his research on correct, as well as misleading, arguments for using market-based pollution control policies. Researchers asked a lot of large-scale questions, like what percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) states should contribute to the abatement of emissions or consumption reduction.

They discussed a broad range of specific topics as well. Besides the impacts of oil consumption, hybrid cars, and mass transportation, they put their heads together the topics of agriculture, land demarcation, and deforestation. Presenters shared extensive research on water, utility, and pollution control, both near and far. Industrial fishing and hurricane prediction were also included in the weekend long conversation.

The conference was divided into 12 sessions, each session allowing one to five papers to be presented, with selected discussants providing their analyses and suggestions to the presenters. Other participants were then invited to ask questions and share their ideas with the presenters in an informal yet organized short-question and answer session.

These participants represented UC Santa Barbara, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and UC San Diego, as well as Yale, University of Washington, University of Toronto, Cornell University, and more.

The conference was made possible in part by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It was sponsored by the University of California Center for Energy and Environmental Economics, the UCSB Department of Economics, the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, and the Ivory Tower Winery.

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