Climate Shock

By Gernot Wagner and Martin Weitzman


Read the NYT op-ed, the infamous pop quiz, our Salon feature, or Foreign Affairs and Atlantic essays.

Climate Shock

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Gernot Wagner and Martin Weitzman
Meet the Authors Gernot Wagner & Martin L. Weitzman | Photo by Jennifer Weitzman

About this Book |Reviews | Events |Global | Notes

If you had a 10 percent chance of having a fatal car accident, you’d take necessary precautions. If your finances had a 10 percent chance of suffering a severe loss, you’d reevaluate your assets. So if we know the world is warming and there’s a 10 percent chance this might eventually lead to a catastrophe beyond anything we could imagine, why aren’t we doing more about climate change right now? We insure our lives against an uncertain future–why not our planet?

In Climate Shock, Gernot Wagner and Martin Weitzman explore in lively, clear terms the likely repercussions of a hotter planet, drawing on and expanding from work previously unavailable to general audiences. They show that the longer we wait to act, the more likely an extreme event will happen. A city might go underwater. A rogue nation might shoot particles into the Earth’s atmosphere, geoengineering cooler temperatures. Zeroing in on the unknown extreme risks that may yet dwarf all else, the authors look at how economic forces that make sensible climate policies difficult to enact, make radical would-be fixes like geoengineering all the more probable. What we know about climate change is alarming enough. What we don’t know about the extreme risks could be far more dangerous. Wagner and Weitzman help readers understand that we need to think about climate change in the same way that we think about insurance–as a risk management problem, only here on a global scale.

Demonstrating that climate change can and should be dealt with–and what could happen if we don’t do so — Climate Shock tackles the defining environmental and public policy issue of our time.

Reviews and Press

  • Austria’s Natural Science Book of the Year 2017
  • Financial Times Best Books of 2015.
  • Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award 2015 longlist
  • “Top 10: Business & Economics” for Spring 2015. – Publishers Weekly
  • Financial Times Summer Book 2015.
  • Independent Publisher Awards (IPPYs) Gold Medal winner as one of the “2016 Outstanding Books of the Year,” winning in the “Most Likely to Save the Planet” category.
  • "'Go Set a Watchman' isn’t the only book this year that brings new perspective to an old story line. 'Climate Shock: The Economic Consequences of a Hotter Planet' should shift our narrative on climate change." – Peter R. Orszag in Bloomberg View
  • "[A] lively, lucid assessment of the economic consequences of global warming." – Pilita Clark, Financial Times (Chinese version via FT中文网)
  • “Klimaschock ist ein wohlinformierter…leidenschaftlicher Aufruf zu Handeln,” Buchkultur. [German: “Climate Shock is a well informed…passionate call for action.”]
  • Klimaschock Gespräch mit Helmut Kretzl in den Salzburger Nachrichten, einschließlich Artikel auf Seite 1: “Das Geld, die Kosten und das Klima
  • "A remarkable book on climate change, Climate Shock is deeply insightful, challenging, eye-opening, thought-provoking, and sheer fun to read. It will help you to think clearly and incisively about one of the most important issues of our generation." – Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Advisor to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon
  • "Climate Shock is a brilliant, clear, rigorous, and to-the-point account of the problem of climate change and what we can and should do about it. The book’s approach to risk—which factors in deep uncertainties—is vastly more sophisticated than the standard methods. An outstanding book." – Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swanand Antifragile
  • "[Climate Shock] is a witty, far-ranging, and literate set of observations, […] it is always informed by a deep understanding of the complexities of economics and particularly the difficulties of reaching international environmental agreements." – William D. Nordhaus in The New York Review of Books
  • "[Climate Shock is] a call to arms for business owners and leaders, economists, and policymakers." – Katie Fehrenbacher in strategy + business
  • "The recent financial crisis was largely the result of an economy set up to privatize benefits and socialize costs. The same holds true for the climate crisis. Let’s avoid doing to the planet what we did to the economy, and let’s begin by taking the economics of climate change seriously. Climate Shock shows conclusively how bad the problem truly is and how we can fix it." – Van Jones, founder and president of Green for All and author of The Green Collar Economy
  • "Economists Gernot Wagner and Martin Weitzman deliver a highvoltage shock in their analysis of the costs of climate change."  – Nature
  • "The book combines sophisticated analysis with a breezy, informal style."  – Richard N. Cooper, Foreign Affairs

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