ESPP Remembers Marty Weitzman, 1942-2019

September 3, 2019
Martin Weitzman

The Environmental Science and Public Policy community is deeply saddened by the sudden loss of Martin L. Weitzman, a former Board of Tutors member and recently retired Harvard University economist. He served as a Fellow of the Econometric Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and co-led the Harvard Seminar in Environmental Economics and Policy for more than 25 years. His contributions to environmental economics were considered brilliant, and his impact on the campus and beyond will be long lasting.

Board of Tutors member Robert N. Stavins, the A.J. Meyer Professor of Energy and Economic Development, recalled Professor Weitzman's lasting impact, saying, “Marty Weitzman was a treasure – a gift that kept on giving to both the research and policy worlds -- for Harvard, for environmental economists around the world, and for the global intellectual community. His work as a theorist on environment broadly and on climate change in particular was unparalleled, and formed the basis of so much theoretical and empirical research carried out by many, many others. He developed strong arguments of why, when analyzing the benefits and costs of proposed climate policies, it was essential – from an economic perspective – to take into account the possibility of catastrophic outcomes, despite the fact that their probability might be relatively small. And that was only one of many contributions.”

Gernot Wagner, a student of Weitzman’s as an undergraduate and PhD student at Harvard, who also is an ESPP alumnus, wrote, “Weitzman was an academic’s academic, a theoretician’s theorist—someone who eschewed the trends in his discipline toward churning out ever more empirical analyses with larger and larger data sets and more and more coauthors. He appreciated and admired the efforts of those who did dive into thorny empirical questions with increasingly powerful computers. His preferred tools: a No. 2 pencil, a legal pad, and a hard wooden chair.Read more from Wagner about Weitzman’s legacy.

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