Frank Ackerman

Frank Ackerman
Synapse Energy Economics

PhD

About

150
Publications
72,742
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
5,666
Citations
Introduction
For more information about my work, and downloadable copies of most of my publications, please see my personal website, http://frankackerman.com
Additional affiliations
January 2014 - present
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Position
  • Lecturer

Publications

Publications (150)
Article
Full-text available
Article
Full-text available
Atrazine, an herbicide used on most of the US corn (maize) crop, is the subject of ongoing controversy, with increasing documentation of its potentially harmful health and environmental impacts. Supporters of atrazine often claim that it is of great value to farmers; most recently, Syngenta, the producer of atrazine, sponsored an "Atrazine Benefits...
Book
Full-text available
Designed for one-semester use, this innovative, principles-level text takes a broad "contextual" approach to economics—including serious consideration of ecological, feminist, and social concerns—while still including coverage of the standard microeconomic concepts and models. Unlike most microeconomics textbooks, which focus exclusively on markets...
Chapter
Full-text available
Education in macroeconomics should include critical issues such as macroeconomic stabilization, distributional equity, the quality of employment, environmental considerations, and the adequacy of living standards. Macroeconomics in Context, while including coverage of standard concepts and models, focuses on these crucial aspects of human well-bein...
Chapter
Full-text available
When you next look for a job—during the summer, perhaps during the school year, or after you graduate from college—what characteristics will you be seeking in your job? Some possibilities include: good pay, opportunities for advancement, opportunities for learning, doing a variety of interesting activities, a feeling that you are contributing somet...
Chapter
This chapter examines different methods for dealing with “unknown unknowns,” the differences between risk, uncertainty, and surprise. We examine different approaches for handling events that have a low (potentially even unknown) probability of occurring, but the consequences of which would be very large. We look at some of the potential tipping poi...
Article
Full-text available
We assess climate impacts of global warming using ongoing observations and paleoclimate data. We use Earth's measured energy imbalance, paleoclimate data, and simple representations of the global carbon cycle and temperature to define emission reductions needed to stabilize climate and avoid potentially disastrous impacts on today's young people, f...
Article
We assess climate impacts of global warming using ongoing observations and paleoclimate data. We use Earth’s measured energy imbalance, paleoclimate data, and simple representations of the global carbon cycle and temperature to define emission reductions needed to stabilize climate and avoid potentially disastrous impacts on today’s young people, f...
Article
Full-text available
Climate change involves uncertain probabilities of catastrophic risks, and very longterm consequences of current actions. Climate economics, therefore, is centrally concerned with the treatment of risk and time. Yet conventional assumptions about utility and optimal economic growth create a perverse connection between risk aversion and time prefere...
Article
In this chapter, we calculate the costs in 2050 and 2100 of losses in five categories of ocean value (fisheries, tourism, sea-level rise, storms, and the ocean carbon sink) under high- and low-emission climate scenarios. By 2100, the damages from "business-as-usual" emissions, leading to a projected temperature rise of 4. °C, are estimated to be $1...
Article
Climate policy choices are influenced by the economics literature which analyses the costs and benefits of alternative strategies for climate action. This literature, in turn, rests on a series of choices about: the values and assumptions underlying the economic analysis; the methodologies for treating dynamics, technological change, risk and uncer...
Article
Full-text available
Climate science paints a bleak picture: The continued growth of greenhouse gas emissions is increasingly likely to cause irreversible and catastrophic effects. Urgent action is needed to prepare for the initial rounds of climatic change, which are already unstoppable. While the opportunity to avert all climate damage has now passed, well-designed m...
Book
Writing about climate change often falls into one of two opposite traps - predicting either calamity or apathy - both of which this book avoids. This is not a story of gloom and doom, of inevitable climate catastrophe. On the contrary, this book spells out, in more detail than usual, what can and should be done to avert the real risks of disaster....
Article
The social cost of carbon – or marginal damage caused by an additional ton of carbon dioxide emissions – has been estimated by a U.S. government working group at $21/tCO2 in 2010. That calculation, however, omits many of the biggest risks associated with climate change, and downplays the impact of current emissions on future generations. Our reanal...
Article
We examine the treatment of climate damages in the FUND model. By inserting software switches to turn individual features on and off, we obtain FUND's estimates for 15 categories of damages, and for components of the agricultural category. FUND, as used by the U.S. government to estimate the social cost of carbon, projects a net benefit of climate...
Article
Full-text available
Global warming due to human-made gases, mainly CO2, is already 0.8{\deg}C and deleterious climate impacts are growing worldwide. More warming is 'in the pipeline' because Earth is out of energy balance, with absorbed solar energy exceeding planetary heat radiation. Maintaining a climate that resembles the Holocene, the world of stable shorelines in...
Article
Full-text available
This article introduces the CRED climate vulnerability index, which apportions economic damages from climate change among world regions on the basis of differences in access to freshwater resources, coastal share of population, and vulnerable sectors' contribution to gross domestic product. Index results are presented in the context of the current...
Article
Full-text available
Integrated assessment models (IAMs) of climate economics require projections of the future costs of greenhouse gas abatement. The work of McKinsey & Company, an international consulting firm, provides global estimates of marginal abatement cost curves, based on data on the costs of numerous emission-reducing technologies. This article describes the...
Article
Full-text available
The social cost of carbon – or marginal damage caused by an additional ton of carbon dioxide emissions – has been estimated by a U.S. government working group at $21/tCO 2 in 2010. That calculation, however, omits many of the biggest risks associated with climate change, and downplays the impact of current emissions on future generations. Our reana...
Article
Full-text available
Global warming due to human-made gases, mainly CO2, is already 0.8{\deg}C and deleterious climate impacts are growing worldwide. More warming is 'in the pipeline' because Earth is out of energy balance, with absorbed solar energy exceeding planetary heat radiation. Maintaining a climate that resembles the Holocene, the world of stable shorelines in...
Article
This paper describes a new model, Climate and Regional Economics of Development (CRED), which is designed to analyze the economics of climate and development choices. Its principal innovations are the treatment of global equity, calculation of the optimum interregional flows of resources, and use of McKinsey marginal abatement cost curves to projec...
Article
The problem of low-probability, catastrophic risk is increasingly central to discussion of climate science and policy. But the integrated assessment models (IAMs) of climate economics rarely incorporate this possibility. What modifications are needed to analyze catastrophic economic risks in an IAM? We explore this question using DICE, a well-known...
Article
The interaction of climate and development threatens to create a paradox: economic development could accelerate climate change, which in turn could block further development, locking the world into existing patterns of inequality as the natural environment deteriorates. The solution to this paradox is far from obvious. What analytical tools are nee...
Article
Energy, food, and water crises; climate disruption; declining fisheries; increasing ocean acidification; emerging diseases; and increasing antibiotic resistance are examples of serious, intertwined global-scale challenges spawned by the accelerating scale of human activity. They are outpacing the development of institutions to deal with them and th...
Article
Full-text available
This article provides an overview of how generalised multi-regional input-output models can be used for carbon footprint applications. We focus on the relevance and suitability of such evidence to inform decision making. Such an overview is currently missing. Drawing on UK results, we cover carbon footprint applications in seven areas: national emi...
Article
Full-text available
The integrated assessment models (IAMs) that economists use to analyze the expected costs and benefits of climate policies frequently suggest that the “optimal” policy is to go slowly and to do relatively little in the near term to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We trace this finding to the contestable assumptions and limitations of IAMs. For exa...
Article
Full-text available
A large fraction of China's greenhouse gas emissions are incurred in order to satisfy final demand of consumers in other countries; in effect, carbon emissions are embedded in China's exports. This paper explores the economic context and policy implications of carbon embedded in China's trade. China is a net exporter of embedded carbon because its...
Article
Full-text available
Good climate policy requires the best possible understanding of how climatic change will impact on human lives and livelihoods in both industrialized and developing counties. Our review of recent contributions to the climate-economics literature assesses 30 existing integrated assessment models in four key areas: the connection between model struct...
Article
The Stern Review received widespread attention for its innovative approach to the economics of climate change when it appeared in 2006, and generated controversies that have continued to this day. One key controversy concerns the magnitude of the expected impacts of climate change. Stern's estimates, based on results from the PAGE2002 model, sounde...
Article
Full-text available
Article
Full-text available
Article
The impact on the world economy of combating climate change will be a key factor in determining society's response. In theory costs should be easy to calculate, but experience has proven otherwise. Each new report that comes out has a differenct price tag, based on varying goals, models, and predictions about technology advances. Our expert panel l...
Article
In a recent article in this journal, Francesco Bosello, Roberto Roson, and Richard Tol make the remarkable prediction that one degree of global warming will, on balance, save more than 800,000 lives annually by 2050. They introduce enormous, controversial monetary valuations of mortality and morbidity, varying with income; they then focus primarily...
Article
Full-text available
Conventional economic analysis is rapidly replacing the arguments of the climate skeptics as the principal justification for inaction on climate change. It is important to create an alternative economics that is consistent with the urgency expressed by the latest climate science. Frank Ackerman presents four broad principles that are fundamental to...
Article
Full-text available
The proportion of slaughtered cattle tested for BSE is much smaller in the U.S. than in Europe and Japan, leaving the U.S. heavily dependent on statistical models to estimate both the current prevalence and the spread of BSE. We examine the models relied on by USDA, finding that the prevalence model provides only a rough estimate, due to limited da...
Article
The new European Union (EU) chemicals regulation, the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals, or REACH, went into effect in 2007. In the extensive advance discussion of the expected impacts of REACH, questions were raised about the effects of this new chemical policy on developing countries. In particular, will it harm the economie...
Article
Full-text available
The climate policy debate has advanced from science to economics, with a growing focus on creating carbon markets and getting the prices right. This is necessary but far from sufficient for an effective and equitable response to the climate challenge. While market-oriented forces such as the IMF and the World Bank have focused almost exclusively on...
Article
It is often claimed that atrazine is of great economic benefit to corn growers, but support for this claim is limited. Some cost-benefit studies have assumed that atrazine boosts corn yields by 6%; an extensive review found a 3%-4% average yield increase; other research suggests only a 1% yield effect. Syngenta, the producer of atrazine, also makes...
Article
Full-text available
In Willingness to Pay vs. Welfare (posted on SSRN), Cass Sunstein offers a set of notable conclusions. Welfare, not wealth maximization, is the important goal for legal decisions. Willingness to pay (WTP) is not a good measure of welfare if (as usual) information is inadequate and some people are poor. Beyond satisfying basic needs, wealth also is...
Article
We analyze the greenhouse gas emissions embodied in trade between Japan and the US, extending the Japanese government's linked Japan–US input–output model to include carbon emission coefficients for each sector. We estimate that in 1995, Japan–US trade reduced US industrial emissions by 14.6 million tons of CO2-equivalent, and increased emissions i...
Article
Full-text available
The Global Development And Environment Institute at Tufts University filed the following public comment on the Environmental Protection Agency Report "National Primary Drinking Water Regulations; Arsenic and Clarifications to Compliance and New Source Contaminants Monitoring; Proposed Rule" released on June 22, 2000. This report came as a result of...
Article
Full-text available
Authors' Note: As this Article went to press, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Massachusetts v. EPA. 1 By a vote of 5-4, the Court rejected all of the legal arguments we discuss here as potential impediments to addressing the problem of climate change. First, the Court held that petitioners had standing to complain about the EPA's refu...
Article
Full-text available
Economic models of climate change often take the problem seriously, but paradoxically conclude that the optimal policy is to do almost nothing about it. We explore this paradox as seen in the widely used DICE model. Three aspects of that model, involving the discount rate, the assumed benefits of moderate warming, and the treatment of the latest cl...
Article
Full-text available
The European Union is moving toward adoption of its new Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) policy, an innovative system of chemicals regulation that will provide crucial information on the safety profile of chemicals used in industry. Chemicals produced elsewhere, such as in the United States, and exported to Europe wil...
Article
Full-text available
Will unbearable regulatory costs ruin the US economy? This specter haunts official Washington, just as fears of communism once did. Once again, the prevailing rhetoric suggests, an implacable enemy of free enterprise puts our prosperity at risk. Like anti-communism in its heyday, anti-command-and-control-ism serves to narrow debate, promoting the u...
Article
Computable general equilibrium (CGE) models of world trade, often presented as demonstrating the benefits of trade liberalization, are now making rather less promising forecasts than they used to just a few years ago. The estimated benefits are not only smaller in the aggregate, but also skewed toward the developed countries; the expected contribut...
Article
Full-text available
Computable general equilibrium (CGE) models of world trade, often presented as demonstrating the benefits of trade liberalization, now make much more modest forecasts than they did just a few years ago. The estimated benefits are not only small in the aggregate, but also skewed toward developed countries; the expected contribution of trade liberali...
Article
Full-text available
In past issues of the post-autistic economics review, writers have pointed out the many failings of contemporary economics education and research. A variety of alternatives in instruction have been suggested, including a greater emphasis on economic problems (rather than technique) and a wider conceptual base. But how, in fact, can this be implemen...
Article
In this Article, however, we do not mount a critique from outside the technique of cost-benefit analysis. Instead, we examine an argument that proponents of cost-benefit analysis have offered as a linchpin of the case for cost-benefit: that this technique is neither anti- nor pro-regulatory, but rather a neutral tool for evaluating public policy. I...
Book
The following values have no corresponding Zotero field: ID - 96 , The following values have no corresponding Zotero field: ID - 96
Article
This book, as the title suggests, explains how General equilibrium, the dominant conceptual framework in mainstream economics, describes a perfectly impossible world. Even with its counterfactual assumptions taken for granted, it fails on many levels. Under the impressive editorship of Ackerman and Nadal, this book will appeal to students and resea...
Article
Full-text available
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had a profound impact on corn trade between the United States and Mexico. Negotiated tariff reductions and the Mexican government's decision not to charge some tariffs to which it was entitled resulted in a doubling of US corn exports to Mexico. This paper examines the environmental implications of th...
Article
[Introduction] Many analytical approaches to setting environmental standards require some consideration of costs and benefits. Even technology- based regulation, maligned by cost-benefit enthusiasts as the worst form of regulatory excess, typically entails consideration of economic costs. Cost-benefit analysis differs, however, from other analytica...
Article
Full-text available
More than 25 years after the discovery that the equilibrium point of a general equilibrium model is not necessarily either unique or stable, there is still a need for an intuitively comprehensible explanation of the reasons for this discovery. Recent accounts identify two causes of the finding of instability: the inherent difficulties of aggregatio...
Article
Full-text available
Beginning in the late 1990s, Canada and the United States began requiring "Environmental Reviews (ERs)" of all trade agreements to be negotiated by each government. This paper, commissioned by the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation, outlines how ERs have evolved in North America, and evaluates the different methodological appro...
Article
Full-text available
It is so hard to get beyond cynicism these days. Even a symposium devoted to this goal has, as reflected in the articles by Professors Cynthia Farina, Jeffrey Rachlinski, and Mark Seidenfeld, succeeded primarily in suggesting that regulators are not so much selfish as they are obtuse, stubborn, and sometimes downright dumb. Undoubtedly this is true...
Article
Environmental economics assumes that reliance on price signals, adjusted for externalities, normally leads to efficient solutions to environmental problems. We explore a limiting case, when market volatility created ‘mixed signals’: prices of waste paper and other recycled materials were suddenly extremely high in 1994–1995, then plummeted back to...
Article
Full-text available
Market based policies are fast becoming the recommended policy panacea for all the world’s environmental problems. Implicit in such recommendations is the theory that free markets, adjusted for externalities, can always create an “efficient” allocation of society’s resources. As a result, many contemporary policymakers advocate rolling back regulat...
Article
Economic theory suggests that liberalization of trade between countries with differing levels of environmental protection could lead pollution- intensive industry to concentrate in the nations where regulations are lax. This effect, often referred to as the “pollution haven” hypothesis, is much discussed in theory, but finds only ambiguous support...
Article
Full-text available
In an unequal society, undesirable wastes often end up in the poorest and least powerful communities, becoming part of the economic and environmental milieu of the inner city. Two contradictory responses to waste reflect contrasting theoretical paradigms. Some wastes can become assets in local economic development, creating incomes through scavengi...