My Toast at the Climate Club Dinner
In my senior environmental economics class at Wesleyan, I ask students to write a first essay due on day 2 – tell me where you are from and describe your perspective of environmental issues.
On the last day of class, I return those essays and ask them what they have learned in the course. How have your perspectives changed?
I start the conversation with three fundamental insights from the class so as not to waste time:
- Efficiency means marginal this means marginal that.
- The answer to every economics question is “It depends”, so the real question is what does it depend on?
- All fractions have numerators and denominators; keep track of both.
I always do the assignments that I ask of my students, and so anticipating that they would ask for my answers, I created a slide show to highlight what I think is most important about what I learned – It is all about people.
So, Bill, I offer these nouns, plus a few clauses, to describe you:
For many at this table, your are a
- father-in-law or brother-in-law, or
For the rest of us, you have been
- a mentor and
- a colleague.
For me, though, you have been
- a Professor,
- a tutor, and then
- a mentor and
- a colleague
By example, you have shown me how to conduct myself, and you have thereby validated lessons from my father.
And you quickly became an inspiration for all that I have done.
More than that, by virtue of one phone call in 1980 about an Academy Report, you changed my life. You brought me into a small but growing community of economists who worried about climate change.
So, Professor Nordhaus, I am forever in your debt. Thank you for all that you have done for me.
And, cheers for all of your accomplishments and insights, and also for the Prize.