Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.


Beware the Duck of Doom

A recent post by Steve Weissman of Berkeley Law on Legal Planet, an environmental law and policy blog, highlights a chart that looks like a duck. The duck chart was produced by the California Independent System Operator, the organization in charge of managing the state's power grid. Weissman calls it the "Duck of Doom" -- with good reason.

The Deployment Dilemma: Where Should We Put Wind and Solar Power?

Over 100 countries have adopted national renewable power targets, with particular focus on wind and solar power (WSP). WSP offers many socioeconomic and environmental benefits but it has two major drawbacks: 1) it's comparatively costly and 2) it's not always available when we need it (i.e. intermittency).

Battling Our Brains: Psychology, Happiness, and Global Warming

Why are some societies rich and others poor? On this subject, Nobel Laureate Robert Lucas wrote, "The consequences for human welfare involved in questions like these are simply staggering: once one starts to think about them, it is hard to think about anything else." The topic is a fascinating one, no doubt, and legions of social scientists have devoted careers to it. But it is quite secondary to a far more fundamental question: Why are some people happy and others not?

Lost in Translation: How to Transform Good Intentions into Poor Policy and Ensure a Climate Crisis (A Primer by the World Bank)

Three months ago, the finance ministers of the U.S., UK, and Japan introduced a Clean Technology Fund to be administered by the World Bank in an effort to "help developing countries bridge the gap between dirty and clean technology."1 Smart and strategic use of limited clean technology financing is absolutely critical if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change.

The Dismal (Climate) Science: On Marty Weitzman, Fat Tails, And How Economists Could Better Help Us to Overcome Global Warming

The World Bank recently invited Harvard economist Marty Weitzman to present his latest work on catastrophic climate change, with federal judge Richard Posner, millionaire math whiz John Seo, and Nobel Laureate Tom Schelling providing comment. Since Weitzman's paper is an important insight into the uncertainty of economic analysis of global warming, it deserves some investigation -- as does the appropriate role and necessary modesty of economists with respect to climate change more generally.

Improving Climate Projections and Adaptation: A Hot Research Topic in Bali

Besides the official negotiations and speeches, the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Bali that I've been attending also provided opportunities for sharing new research and ideas. Two subjects dominated the schedule: adaptation and forestry (no doubt reflecting the preferences of our Indonesian hosts). Here I briefly discuss the use of climate models in adaptation -- a critical issue for those in the development community. [In a separate post to follow I'll note some new efforts in the measurement and monitoring of forest carbon.]