IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/wop/iasawp/ir97037.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Assessing Extreme Outcomes: The Strategic Treatment of Low Probability Impacts of Climate Change

Author

Listed:
  • A. Patt

Abstract

Many assessments of climate change fail to consider the possibility of low probability, yet catastrophic, outcomes of greenhouse warming. A noteworthy example is the potential rapid deterioration of the West Antarctic ice sheet. If the ice sheet were to melt, as a minority of scientists believe it may, sea levels could rise by five meters or more in the next century. This study seeks to develop a theory that can predict why certain classes of assessments assess extreme outcomes, while other classes of assessments ignore them. Work in behavioral psychology argues that individual decision-makers display predictable bias when interpreting low probability events, either underestimating or overestimating the associated risks. Drawing on this work, this study theorizes that assessors who operate by consensus, and who are trying not to create controversy, will avoid issue areas, such as low probability outcomes, where biased interpretations are likely. Staff advisors who are asked to assess such issue areas will seek to offer explanations that overcome people's propensity for bias. Finally, advocates writing assessments will seek to take advantage of people's bias. Using a case study of the West Antarctic ice sheet issue, this study finds empirical evidence that supports these predictions.

Suggested Citation

  • A. Patt, 1997. "Assessing Extreme Outcomes: The Strategic Treatment of Low Probability Impacts of Climate Change," Working Papers ir97037, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:iasawp:ir97037
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.iiasa.ac.at/Publications/Documents/IR-97-037.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: http://www.iiasa.ac.at/Publications/Documents/IR-97-037.ps
    Download Restriction: no

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. A. Patt, 1997. "Economists and Ecologists: Different Frames of Reference for Global Climate Change," Working Papers ir97056, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wop:iasawp:ir97037. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Thomas Krichel). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/iiasaat.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.