Robert Mendelsohn

Robert O. Mendelsohn

Credentials

  • Ph.D., economics, Yale University (1978).
  • B.A., economics, Harvard University (1973).

Source: [1]

Background

Robert O. Mendelsohn is an environmental economist and the Weyerhaeuser Davis Professor of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University, Professor of Economics in Economics Department at Yale University, and Professor in the School of Management at Yale University.

Mendelsohn was a contributor to the first Copenhagen Consensus report, organized by Bjorn Lomborg. The Copenhagen Conference came to the conclusion that “global warming must be addressed, but agreed that approaches based on too abrupt a shift toward lower emissions of carbon are needlessly expensive.” [2]

Mendelsohn was also critical of the Stern Review because it recommended immediate regulations on carbon emissions, and because it suggests that damages related to climate change are higher than previously expected. [3]

Mendelsohn's profile at Yale describes him as having written over one hundred peer-reviewed articles and edited six books. The focus of his research has been the “valuation of the environment.” His most recent work values the impacts of greenhouse gases, including the effects of climate change on agriculture, forests, water resources, energy, and coasts. [4]

Stance on Climate Change

Although Mendelsohn believes in human caused climate change, he believes it is to expensive to increase regulations on carbon emissions:

“Economists have long argued that stabilizing greenhouse gases at 550 ppm is not efficient because the costs far outweighed the benefits.”

“Aggressive near-term policies lead to abatement costs that outweigh the avoided future climate damages. Strict abatement policies should be delayed into the future as damages increase. Only modest control programs are warranted in the near term.” [5]

Mendelsohn contributed to a report that concluded “There is broad scientific agreement on many fundamental aspects of how human activities contribute to changes in the Earth’s climate. The radiative effect of increased levels of CO2 is well established.” [6]

Key Quotes

“Although it is important to examine the consequences of today’s actions far into the future, it is important not to confuse far future actions with what is done today. The impact of emissions that are made after 2100 has no bearing on what the world should do for the next 30 or even 100 years.” [7]

“The world community simply should not support such extreme measures when there are so many other pressing issues at hand. The optimal response to greenhouse gases is to start modestly.” [7]

“The results of recent research on the impacts of climate change dramatically weaken the case for expensive, near-term abatement programs.” [8]

Key Deeds

April, 2016

Robert Mendelsohn was one of several witnesses sponsored by Peabody Energy, fighting a legal case on Minnesota's Social Cost of Carbon (SCC). Peabody Energy's list of skeptical scientists included the following: [10]

DeSmog reviewed the case findings, and reported how the arguments presented by Peabody were rejected by the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Some of Peabody's central “scientific” arguments, as commented on by The ALJ in findings documents, were as follows: [11]

p.18 “Peabody asserted that significant climate change is not occurring or, to the extent climate change is occurring, it is not due to anthropogenic causes. Furthermore, Peabody insisted that any current warming and increased CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere are beneficial. Based on its position on climate change, Peabody maintained that the externality value of CO2 would most accurately be set at or below zero.…”

p.31 “The Administrative Law Judge concludes that Peabody Energy has failed to demonstrate, by a preponderance of the evidence, that climate change is not occurring or, to the extent climate change is occurring, the warming and increased CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere are beneficial.” 

The Judge ruled unambiguously against Peabody, as reported Bloomberg BNA. [12]The Guardian also suggested a number of reasons that Peabody Energy lost the case, including Richard Lindzen's own admission that the case hinged on ignoring the IPCC expert consensus, and instead listening to contrarian science: [13]

“All of this [opposition] testimony is flawed to the extent it simply relies on … predictions by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change […] today the best evidence indicates that … a much lower climate sensitivity value of 1°C or 1.5°C is correct […]” [13]

“Peabody’s scientists made errors that were easy to identify and point out to the Judge. Furthermore, the Judge was smart, quickly able to see through nonsense non-science,” The Guardian reports. “For those of you that read the report, you’ll notice that the Peabody side made claims about the natural variability of Earth’s climate, about Earth temperature changes, and about extreme weather events.” [14]

Some notable judicial conclusions were as follows, reports The Guardian:

“22. The Administrative Law Judge concludes that Peabody failed to demonstrate that an equilibrium climate sensitivity of 1 or 1.5°C is correct.”

“23. The Administrative Law Judge concludes that the climate sensitivity is reasonably considered to be in the 2-4.5°C range.”

“47. The Administrative Law Judge concludes that Peabody failed to demonstrate that the relied upon process is neither peer-reviewed nor transparent.” [14]

June 30 - July 1, 2011

Speaker at the Heartland Institute's Sixth International Conference on Climate Change. [9]

April, 2004

Contributed an opponent paper on climate change (PDF) to the 2004 Copenhagen Consensus.

Affiliations

  • American Enterprise Institute (AEI) — Mendelsohn was the author of a study commissioned by the American Enterprise Institute to examine the debate over global environmental policy issues. The paper is “Greening of Global Warming,” and is archived here (PDF). 

Publications

Sample publications include:

  • Climate Change and Agriculture: An Economic Analysis of Global Impacts, Adaptation, and Distributional Effects.
  • “Opponent Paper on Climate Change” (PDF). Presented to Copenhagen Consensus. April, 2004.
  • Greening of Global Warming (PDF).
  • Towards Efficient Regulation of Air Pollution from Coal-fired Power Plants.

Mendelsohn provides a full list of his publications in his CV [1]. Additional information is also listed here.

Resources

  1. “Robert Mendelsohn” (PDF), CV at Yale University, January, 2010.

  2. Perspective Paper Authors” (for Copenhagen Consensus 2004), Copenhagen Consensus Center. Accessed January, 2012.

  3. Robert O. Mendelsohn. “A Critique of the Stern Report” (PDF), Regulation, Winter 2006-2007.

  4. Robert O. Mendelsohn,” Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. Accessed January, 2012.

  5. Robert O. Mendelsohn. “A Critique of the Stern Report” (PDF), Regulation, Winter 2006-2007.

  6. “Agricultural Adaptation to Climate Change” (PDF), USDA Economic Research Service.

  7. “Opponent Paper on Climate Change” (PDF), Copenhagen Consensus, April, 2004.

  8. The Greening of Global Warming,” American Enterprise Institute, January 1, 1999.

  9. Robert Mendelsohn,” International Conference on Climate Change (climateconference.heartland.org). Accessed January, 2012.

  10. John Mashey. “Peabody's Outlier Gang Couldn't Shoot Straight In Minnesota Carbon Case, Judge Rebuffs Happer, Lindzen, Spencer, Mendelsohn, Bezdek,” Desmog, June 7, 2016.

  11. “Re: In the Matter of the Further Investigation into Environmental and Socioeconomic Costs Under Minn. Stat. § 216B.2422, Subd. 3” (PDF), April 12, 2016. PDF archived at DeSmog.

  12. ALJ: Minnesota Should Use Federal Costs of Carbon in Decisions,” Bloomberg BNA, April 20, 2016. Archived June 27, 2016.

  13. Coal made its best case against climate change, and lost,” The Guardian, May 11, 2016. Archived June 27, 2016. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6iaIFgvfV

  14. Peabody coal's contrarian scientist witnesses lose their court case,” The Guardian, May 2, 2016. Archived June 27, 2016. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6iaIuPszO

Other Resources