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Worth the Cost?

Economist Jane Hall's View on Global Warming

February 17, 2009

Jane Hall

“Most economists are pretty much on board that global warming is occurring, but not all agree to its importance,” according to Jane V. Hall, professor of economics and a recognized environmental economist.

Hall provided the economic perspective on climate change as one of the presenters who discussed aspects of the issue during the Feb. 5 National Teach-in on Global Warming on campus.

During the half-hour presentation, Hall pointed out that economists look at the “opportunity cost” and often use projected changes in gross domestic product to measure whether the benefits of actions to limit emissions and avert climate change are greater than the costs. But standard benefit-cost analysis is a bad way to address the issue, she explained, “because the problem is too big, too complex and has too many unknowns to apply standard methodologies.”

In the end, Hall said, it is better for the scientists to explain what needs to be done, what levels need to be reached and the time period in which it needs to be done and let the economists “design incentive-based policies to get there.”

Hall and fellow economist Victor Brajer have conducted several studies on the costs of air pollution, the most recent being a study of the economic impact of pollution in the San Joaquin Valley.

(Download Hall's PowerPoint presentation, “We’re Heading for the Cliff — But Does It Matter?”, here)

For questions about Hall’s presentation, contact the professor at

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