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2014 Update: Grading Economics Textbooks on Climate Change

Solid progress in economics textbooks' climate discussions.

With a new school year approaching, this is a good time to update our review of the treatment of climate change in economics textbooks. As in our 2010 and 2012 reviews, some books hit the mark while others are wildly misleading. But we’re happy to say that there’s plenty of good news, especially at the top and the bottom of the grade distribution: the good books have gotten better (including the first-ever A+ grade!) and even the worst ones have made improvements (the lowest grade is now a D-, not a F!).

Some books, of course, suffered some backsliding. Out of 18 books reviewed, four still make the “Not Recommended” list, with the biggest loser being Gwartney, Stroup, Sobel, and Macpherson’s Economics: Private and Public Choice (15th ed.), hereby dubbed the recipient of the undesired 2014 Ruffin and Gregory Award for the Worst Treatment of Climate Change in an Economics Textbook (so named for a comically bad treatment of climate change in a textbook now thankfully out of print).

Without further ado, here is the full report, as well as our summary report card:

Original Sightline Institute graphic, available under our free use policy.

Original Sightline Institute graphic, available under our free use policy.

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Comments

  1. Dick Burkhart says:

    How many of these textbooks have an adequate treatment of Limits to Growth, let alone any treatment? I bet none.

  2. Paul Geddes says:

    No comments on the best economic text out there?

    http://www.pearsonhighered.com/educator/product/Economic-Way-of-Thinking-The/9780132991292.page

    See especially Chapter 10 (on externalities and conflicting rights)

  3. mark johnson says:

    Matt Ridley’s WSJ article:

    “When the climate scientist and geologist Bob Carter of James Cook University in Australia wrote an article in 2006 saying that there had been no global warming since 1998 according to the most widely used measure of average global air temperatures, there was an outcry. A year later, when David Whitehouse of the Global Warming Policy Foundation in London made the same point, the environmentalist and journalist Mark Lynas said in the New Statesman that Mr. Whitehouse was “wrong, completely wrong,” and was “deliberately, or otherwise, misleading the public.”

    “We know now that it was Mr. Lynas who was wrong. Two years before Mr. Whitehouse’s article, climate scientists were already admitting in emails among themselves that there had been no warming since the late 1990s. “The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998,” wrote Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia in Britain in 2005. He went on: “Okay it has but it is only seven years of data and it isn’t statistically significant.”

    “If the pause lasted 15 years, they conceded, then it would be so significant that it would invalidate the climate-change models upon which policy was being built. A report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) written in 2008 made this clear: “The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 yr or more.”

    Well, the pause has now lasted for 16, 19 or 26 years—depending on whether you choose the surface temperature record or one of two satellite records of the lower atmosphere. That’s according to a new statistical calculation by Ross McKitrick, a professor of economics at the University of Guelph in Canada.

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