Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Humans are very good at managing risk, except when it comes to the biggest risk we face - climate change

human beings in general are very risk averse. We buy insurance to protect our investments in homes and cars. For those of us who do not have universal health care and health insurance. We do not have the possibility - however remote -. Who could fail to prepare in case something bad happens to our homes, cars, and health

Climate change appears to be an important exception to this rule. Managing risks posed by climate change is not a priority for the public, despite the fact that a climate catastrophe of this century is a very real possibility, and that such an event would have a negative impact on all of us . For example, in my work, in the assessment of risks to the environment, if a contaminated site poses a cancer risk to humans more than 1 in 10, is considered one of 000-1 million which adds risk unacceptably high and must be reduced. This despite the fact that American has almost 1 in 2 chance of developing and 1 in 4 chance of dying from cancer (1-for-3 and 1-5 for an American woman, respectively).

for a chance of 42 percent of an average American developing cancer in his life, we are not ready to add another 0,001 percent. The reason is simple - really, really do not want cancer, and we believe that even a small additional risk unacceptable

however, do not share the aversion to the risks posed by climate change caused by man. These risks include more than half of the world's species potentially endangered, extreme weather such as heat waves more common, global food supply threatens the more frequent extreme weather, glaciers and resources associated with millions of people disappearing water, rising sea levels, coastal flooding, etc..

This is not a thin 1-1000000 risk, we see the consequences of serious damage to the environment


"I can not say the same thing [to do something] is not the best solution."

This argument, often made by climate hipsters shows a lack of understanding about risk management. I'm sure if I'm in a car accident, or if my house catches fire, or if I'm going to be seriously ill or injured in the coming years. This uncertainty has not prevented the purchase of auto, home and health. It's just a matter of prudent risk management, ensuring that we are prepared if something bad happens to something that we enjoy. This principle certainly applies to the global climate.

simply uncertainty is not our friend when it comes to risk. If uncertainty is high, it means a bad deal might not happen, but it also means that we can not exclude the possibility of a catastrophic event occurs. Inaction is justified only if we are sure that the bad result will not.