Columbia University Professor Scott Barrett Compares Global Responses to COVID-19 and Climate Change in Special Edition of “Environmental Insights”

March 27, 2020
Columbia University Professor, Scott Barrett
Columbia University Professor, Scott Barrett

CAMBRIDGE MA. – Listen to the interview here. A full transcript of the interview is available here. Columbia University Professor Scott Barrett assessed the massive global efforts underway to address COVID-19 and the potential impacts of the pandemic on our lives in the future in a special episode of Environmental Insights: Discussions on Policy and Practice from the Harvard Environmental Economics Program,” a podcast produced by the Harvard Environmental Economics Program.

Hosted by Robert N. Stavins, A.J. Meyer Professor of Energy and Economic Development at Harvard Kennedy School and director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program, Environmental Insights is intended to promote public discourse on important issues at the intersection of economics and environmental policy.

Barrett, the Lenfest-Earth Institute Professor of Natural Resource Economics at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) & Earth Institute at Columbia University, has focused his research on transnational, regional, and global environmental issues that can only be addressed by international cooperation. His research touches on issues relating to climate change, infectious diseases, international environmental agreements, global public goods, trade and environment, ecosystems, environment and development, and oceans.

The international global effort to contain COVID-19 will be a “persistent challenge,” Barrett remarked in the interview, and will result in “fundamental changes in society.”

“What really stands out is the failure of the United States to be prepared,” Barrett continued. “It’s clear that our inability to do testing has really compromised the health and well-being of Americans.” Calling it “an equitable scourge,” Barrett noted that the pandemic is affecting people from all levels of income and wealth, and that “it’s in everyone’s best interest that we control it.”

Comparing the COVID-19 outbreak to the Plague in the 14th century and the Spanish Flu of 1918-19, Barrett remarked, “I think this is going to have profound changes that will last at least a generation. It’s hard to know exactly what those changes will be, but there will be changes in terms of how we understand our relationship with each other, to technology, to science, to government, to international institutions. I think all of this is in play right now.”

Barrett’s interview is the eighth episode in the Environmental Insights series, with future episodes scheduled to drop each month.

“Environmental Insights is intended to inform and educate listeners about important issues relating to an economic perspective on developments in environmental policy, including the design and implementation of market-based approaches to environmental protection,” said Stavins. “We speak with accomplished Harvard colleagues, other academics, and practitioners who are working on solving some of the most challenging public problems we face.”

Environmental Insights is hosted on SoundCloud, and is also available on iTunes, Pocket Casts, Spotify, and Stitcher.

A full transcript of the interview with Scott Barrett is available here. 


Media Contact: Doug Gavel,, (617) 429-4417


Podcast a production of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program



scott_barrett_podcast_transcript_3.27.2020.pdf191 KB
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