Select Committee on Economic Affairs Written Evidence

Memorandum by Professor S Fred Singer, University of Virginia

  1.   Will a putative global warming produce damages or benefits?

  The study led by Professor Robert Mendelsohn (Yale University) and a team of 23 mostly academic economists concludes that a doubling of CO2 coupled to a moderate warming will increase the GDP of the United States. Published by Cambridge University Press, 1999.

  Using a similar methodology, the benefits of warming are likely to be even greater for nations at higher latitudes (UK and Northern Europe) and somewhat smaller for lower latitudes and tropics.

  Recall that for tropical latitudes, models predict a lesser than global average warming. Also, any warming will increase ocean evaporation and perforce the amount of global average precipitation—hence fresh water.

  By contrast, the IPCC has adduced negative impacts (damages) from global warming. Note, however, that while the five studies cited in the Second Assessment Report (1995) appear to give similar estimates of total damage, they differ greatly when compared by sector. I have noted that one study cites mainly damage to agriculture, while another cites mainly damage due to sea level rise. And so forth.

  Note also, that both Mendelsohn and IPCC use values for sea level rise given by IPCC that are unrealistically large. Even so, the Yale study and IPCC differ not only in magnitude but in sign!

  2.   Who bears the brunt of climate change and the costs of controls?

  The answer to "brunt" is suggested above. The answer to "cost" depends on which countries adopt the Kyoto Protocol or similar measures. A highly regarded study by Professor William Nordhaus (Yale) suggests that the per-capita cost for the US is three times greater than for rest of OECD. A summary was published in Science magazine.

25 January 2005

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