Monday, January 24, 2011

Climate change economist vs. climate change scientist

Me: I work on climate change economics in DFID.

Stranger in lift: Climate change. Not sure I’m convinced of the science.

Me: I’m not a climate change scientist. I work on the economics of climate change - how much it costs to take action or not take action.

Stranger in lift: Oh… (looking confused)

Me: But not in an abstract way – though I do commission some research, yes – but mostly I advise developing countries on what to do about climate change.

Stranger in lift: So you tell developing countries what to do? Surely that’s not morally right? They didn’t cause the problem.

Me: Well, many governments actually seek DFID’s advice and funding to help with issues like this (stranger smiles politely and breathes a sigh of relief as the doors open to let us out) and taking action might be in their interest anyway (I trail off)…nice to meet you anyway, bye…

Hmm. Perhaps not the simplest of explanations.

More by Hannah Ryder, senior economist at DFID, here.