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Responding to Threats of Climate Change Mega-Catastrophes

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  • Zeckhauser, Richard J.
  • Toman, Michael
  • Rostapshova, Olga
  • Kousky, Carolyn

Abstract

There is a low but uncertain probability that climate change could trigger “mega-catastrophes,” severe and at least partly irreversible adverse effects across broad regions. This paper first discusses the state of current knowledge and the defining characteristics of potential climate change mega-catastrophes. While some of these characteristics present difficulties for using standard rational choice methods to evaluate response options, there is still a need to balance the benefits and costs of different possible responses with appropriate attention to the uncertainties. To that end, we present a qualitative analysis of three options for mitigating the risk of climate mega-catastrophes—drastic abatement of greenhouse gas emissions, development and implementation of geoengineering, and large-scale ex ante adaptation—against the criteria of efficacy, cost, robustness, and flexibility. We discuss the composition of a sound portfolio of initial investments in reducing the risk of climate change mega-catastrophes.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Regulation2point0 in its series Working paper with number 629.

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Date of creation: Nov 2009
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Handle: RePEc:reg:wpaper:629

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  12. Kousky, Carolyn & Cooke, Roger, 2009. "Climate Change and Risk Management: Challenges for Insurance, Adaptation, and Loss Estimation," Discussion Papers dp-09-03-rev, Resources For the Future.
  13. Zeckhauser, Richard, 2008. "Overreaction to Fearsome Risks," Working Paper Series rwp08-079, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
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  16. van den Bergh, Jeroen C. J. M., 2004. "Optimal climate policy is a utopia: from quantitative to qualitative cost-benefit analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 385-393, April.
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Cited by:
  1. Rickels, Wilfried & Rehdanz, Katrin & Oschlies, Andreas, 2012. "Economic prospects of ocean iron fertilization in an international carbon market," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 129-150.
  2. Güssow, Kerstin & Proelss, Alexander & Oschlies, Andreas & Rehdanz, Katrin & Rickels, Wilfried, 2010. "Ocean iron fertilization: Why further research is needed," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 911-918, September.
  3. Baptiste Perrissin Fabert & Etienne Espagne & Antonin Pottier & Patrice Dumas, 2012. "The “Doomsday” Effect in Climate Policies. Why is the Present Decade so Crucial to Tackling the Climate Challenge?," Working Papers 2012.62, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  4. Gary D. Libecap & Richard H. Steckel, 2011. "Climate Change: Adaptations in Historical Perspective," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of Climate Change: Adaptations Past and Present, pages 1-22 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Olivier STERCK, 2011. "Geoengineering as an alternative to mitigation: specification and dynamic implications," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2011035, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
  6. Wilfried Rickels & Katrin Rehdanz & Andreas Oschlies, 2009. "Accounting aspects of ocean iron fertilization," Kiel Working Papers 1572, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  7. Benjamin Jones & Michael Keen & Jon Strand, 2013. "Fiscal implications of climate change," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 29-70, February.

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