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Nobel prize-winning economist applies economic theory to global warming

<y 9, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics and Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, Thomas Schelling presented a convocation entitled “Can We Manage the Greenhouse Problem?” During the address, Schelling discussed tie-ins between the economy and the reduction of greenhouse gases.

Before teaching at the University of Maryland, Schelling taught at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government where he was the Lucius N. Littauer Professor of Political Economy. His teaching and research focus is on foreign affairs, nuclear strategy, and arms control. Schelling won the Nobel Prize in 2005 along with Robert Aumann, and is noted for his application of the game-theory to international issues.

Before embarking on a teaching career, Schelling worked on the Marshall Plan after World War II in addition to serving in the White House in the Executive Office of the President. A graduate of University of California-Berkeley and Harvard University, Schelling initially taught at Yale before going to Harvard. In 1960, Schelling published “The Strategy of Conflict” which is considered as one of the most influential books in the West since 1945, which focused on bargaining and also delved into the use of the focal point, an important concept in game theory. In addition to “The Strategy of Conflict,” Schelling published Arms and Influence in 1966 in which he applied his economic theories to the arms race.

In 1971, Schelling wrote “Dynamic Models of Segregation,” a groundbreaking paper that delved into how segregation was influenced by different ethnic groups living in separate neighborhoods.

In 1980, Schelling chaired a commission on global warming for then-President Jimmy Carter and has since been vocal in the global warming debate. In analyzing the debate from an economic perspective, Schelling believes that while global warming is a major potential issue now and in the future, with a reduction of emission levels, developed countries would feel the brunt of the financial effects while developing countries would not have to sacrifice as much in terms of infrastructure in order to reduce emission levels.

Since taking his current position at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy in 1990, Schelling has been active on various committees including those through the National Academy of Sciences. He has also been a voice on the Copenhagen Consensus, which is driven to advancing global welfare through economics, with projects to confront the spread of HIV and malaria.

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