The Economics of the Yasuní Initiative

Climate Change as if Thermodynamics Mattered

Joseph Henry Vogel, With a Foreword by Graciela Chichilnisky

During COP15 United Nations Climate Change Conference Copenhagen 2009 and for a limited period thereafter, this book will be made available free of charge online, with free downloads, for non-commercial purposes (using Creative Commons licences).




Lively, ethical, and humorous: the perfect counterpoint to the economics-as-usual approach to climate change

- Climate change as ‘cost-shifting success,’ and now restitution through the Yasuní Initiative.
- A ‘page-turner’…perhaps the first in the economics of climate change and conservation.
- A delicious side dish or perhaps the main course for the transdisciplinary syllabi on climate change.

Climate change lends itself to both political economy and humor. Vogel argues that mainstream economics fails to recognize the thermodynamic nature of climate change, thereby missing the point of Northern appropriation of the atmospheric sink. The switch to thermodynamics brings into focus the legitimacy of a ‘carbon debt’ that starts to tick with the first report of the IPCC in 1990. Through the lens of economic theory, the understandable intransigence of poor countries to assume the ‘cap’ in ‘cap and trade’ is a distortion to the economic system. But by that same economics, one distortion can justify another – and that other distortion is the payment Ecuador seeks for not drilling in the Yasuní Biosphere. Heeding the call of Deidre (formerly Donald) McCloskey that economics needs more humor, Vogel has written a piercing critique of economics-as-usual which also entertains.

Readership : Students from secondary through tertiary, as well any engaged reader interested in science, policy, and humor.

Prologue by José Manuel Hermida; Foreword by Graciela Chichilnisky; Introduction; Acknowledgments; Abbreviations; Chapter 1: Thermodynamics: The Language Chosen Defines the Debate; Chapter 2: The Tragedy of the Commons: A Class of Problems that has no Technical Solution; Chapter 3: The Willful Ignorance of Realpolitik: Market Failure or Cost-shifting Success?; Chapter 4: The General Theory of Second Best: A Rigorous Justification for an Intuitively Just Proposal; Chapter 5: Through the Bottleneck of a Cowboy Economy: Financing Shovel-ready Projects; Conclusions: Reason for Hope and Despair; Appendix: Annotated YouTube Filmography; Notes; Index

About the Author
Joseph Henry Vogel is Professor of Economics at the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras and serves on the International Tribunal of Climate Justice.

Graciela Chichilnisky has worked extensively in the Kyoto Protocol process, creating and designing the carbon market that became international law in 2005.