Updated November 29, 2010
The literature on the causes, consequences, and policy responses concerning climate change is vast. The following is a brief introduction, with emphasis on sources that are available on the web and sources that focus on issues relevant for U.S. policy. To offer a manageable drink from the fountain rather than a firehose of completeness, much excellent material has been omitted.
On the causes and consequences of climate change
For the most comprehensive international reports on the causes and possible consequences of climate change, see the results of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change at http://www.ipcc.ch
These reports have framed much of the debate; however, the U.S. government has also periodically asked the National Academy of Sciences to investigate particular issues. For several of their most important reports, see:
For more on the impacts of climate change in the United States see
For the impact of climate change on human health, see:
For one of several research groups engaged in the integrated study of the scientific, economic, and policy aspects of climate change, see:
For more eclectic and highly opinionated accounts, here are two particularly active and irreverent sources:
On the economic costs of controlling emissions
When Kyoto was taking shape there were many efforts to model the economic consequences. "The Costs of the Kyoto Protocol: A Multi-Model Evaluation," a far-ranging and systematic intercomparison of model results in Stanford University's Energy Modeling Forum (EMF), provides a good introduction to the results.
The EMF also contributed heavily to the IPCC reports (cited above), and chapters in the report from IPCC Working Group #3 provide overviews of the issues and introduce in detail some of the controversies in economic modeling.
A key issue in assessing possible costs of control is the future structure of the world and regional energy systems. Here are two reports on that:
Expectations about the prices and acceptability of major fuels will have a large impact on the cost of controlling carbon. For more, see the following:
For more information on developing emissions trading systems, see:
On innovation and the design of technology policies
Most of the relevant literature on technology policy is not written with the climate change problem in mind, as the question of whether and how the government can successfully intervene in the process of innovation is a generic one. For some windows into that literature see:
For such work focused specifically on energy, see:
On international cooperation
Key international agreements (the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Kyoto Protocol), information on activities under those agreements see:
The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), and links to government-reported data on emissions
On the Prototype Carbon Fund, which aims to jump start the CDM
On the design of international architectures
There is a large and growing literature on international "architectures" or "regimes" to address climate change. Much of it is based on analogies with other areas of international cooperation on environmental and economic problems as well as analogies with policy instruments that have been used to address national environmental problems, such as the sulfur dioxide emission trading program used in the United States. For some windows into that huge literature see:
On public attitudes
There have been many polls on climate change policy, and poll data requires careful interpretation. The best introduction to the results and sensitivity to issues such as the framing of questions is the Program on International Policy Attitudes. Also see:
In addition, researchers have struggled with the question of how to frame information about complex and uncertain scientific issues so that it is comprehensible and conveyed accurately. For the fullest project in this spirit, see:
On political activism
There are many organizations large and small with a view on what is happening with the climate and how policymakers in the United States (and other countries) should respond. Here is a sampling of the field:
On U.S. government policies and approaches and environmental issues in the 2004 presidential campaign
For information on the presidential candidates' stance on environmental issues, see:
President Bush has spoken about climate change issues several times: http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/environment/
In the Bush administration, the Council on Environmental Quality has played a central role in formulating policy on climate change.
The foreign policy aspects see the Department of State Global Issues office.
For more on the organization of U.S. investment in climate science see:
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