Responding to Threats of Climate Change Mega-Catastrophes
AbstractThere 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 missions, 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 InfoPaper provided by Resources For the Future in its series Discussion Papers with number dp-09-45.
Date of creation: 17 Nov 2009
Date of revision:
climate change; catastrophe; risk; decisionmaking under uncertainty;
Other versions of this item:
- Zeckhauser, Richard J. & Toman, Michael & Rostapshova, Olga & Kousky, Carolyn, 2009. "Responding to Threats of Climate Change Mega-Catastrophes," Working paper 629, Regulation2point0.
- Kousky, Carolyn & Rostapshova, Olga & Toman, Michael & Zeckhauser, Richard, 2010. "Responding to Threats of Climate Change Mega-Catastrophes," Working Paper Series rwp10-008, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
- Kousky, Carolyn & Rostapshova, Olga & Toman, Michael & Zeckhauser, Richard, 2009. "Responding to threats of climate change mega-catastrophes," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5127, The World Bank.
- Kousky, Carolyn & Rostapshova, Olga V & Toman, Michael & Zeckhauser, Richard Jay, 2010. "Responding to Threats of Climate Change Mega-Catastrophes," Scholarly Articles 4454155, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
- D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
- Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2010-01-16 (All new papers)
- NEP-ENE-2010-01-16 (Energy Economics)
- NEP-ENV-2010-01-16 (Environmental Economics)
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