572 EDITORIAL COMMENT There can be no doubt that, both as individuals and in groups, people do adapt to changes in their natural, social or economic environment. The adaptation can involve not only changes in behavior but also changes in preferences (habituation, or hedonic adaptation). In either case, the adaptation has the effect of reducing the cost – monetary or psychic – of an adverse change in their circumstances. The important questions in the climate change context are all empirical: When will people adapt? How much will they adapt? And, how much will their adaptation lower the cost of climate change? My reservations towards Mendelsohn’s (2000) paper center on his (implicit) answers to these empirical questions. My concerns are centered on two core issues: the efﬁciency of adaptation and the question of measurement error in assessing the cost savings due to adaptation. 2. Efﬁcient Adaptation Mendelsohn’s discussion of efﬁcient adaptation employs a line of reasoning, very common among economists, that readily mixes normative and positive analyses as though these were equivalent. He argues that adaptation should be encouraged; that it will occur; and that it will tend to be efﬁcient as long as no externalities or collective action are
Climatic Change – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 8, 2004
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