In Memoriam: Frank Ackerman

Economist and longtime member of USSEE Frank Ackerman died on July 15, 2019 at the age of 72. He was an environmentalist and a prolific writer on topics ranging from the economics of climate change to critiques of mainstream economic theory. After graduating from Swarthmore College, he earned a PhD in economics from Harvard University. He is the author of Why do We Recycle?: Markets, Values, and Public Policy (2013, Island Press), and co-author of On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing, with Lisa Heinzerling (2004, The New Press). His most recent book is Worst-Case Economics: Extreme Events in Climate and Finance (2017, Anthem Press). Earlier in July, he wrote his final essay, entitled “Why Economics?”. In this essay, Dr. Ackerman summarizes many of the questions that he pursued in his career:

“Was it worth the intellectual effort to work as an economist? The problems I encountered in economics remain very much with us. We are still stymied by complacence and understatement of inequality, the use of overly mathematical cost-benefit models and low carbon cost estimates to justify bad policy, and miscalculation of current and future risks.”

Dr. Ackerman spent his career at Tellus Institute, the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University, Stockholm Environment Institute, and Synapse Energy Economics, where he advised government agencies and non-governmental organizations on a range of climate, energy, and other environmental policy initiatives. Many of his publications, including papers, op-eds, and information about his books can be found at his website. He published numerous articles in Ecological Economics, and his work has been cited in the journal scores of times. Frank Ackerman’s intellectual contributions to the field of ecological economics are significant, and he will be greatly missed. His obituary was published in the Boston Globe.