tipping points

Cost-Benefit Analysis and Deep Uncertainty

How should agencies take into account “the things we know we don’t know”?

Since 1981, cost-benefit analysis (CBA) has been at the core of the rule making process.  OIRA, the so-called “regulatory czar” in the White House, must approve every significant regulation based on a review of its CBA.  But CBA has had a major blind spot. It embodies techniques for analyzing possible harmful outcomes when the probability …


Is Climate Change a Bulldozer or Bullet Train?

How fast will climate change happen? Maybe faster than we expect, according to the National Academy of Sciences.

We’re in the early stages of climate change — just how much depending in large part on whether we control our emissions.  But how quickly will this happen?  Is it a bulldozer we can dodge or a bullet train that’s too fast to avoid?  That makes a lot of difference in terms of our ability …


Mayans! Apocalypse! Climate Change!

Mayan apocalypse: panic spreads as December 21 nears Fears that the end of the world is nigh have spread across the world with only days until the end of the Mayan calendar, with doomsday-mongers predicting a cataclysmic end to the history of Earth. That’s from a British newspaper, the Telegraph, but you only have to Google …


How useful are “planetary boundaries”?

The latest edition of Nature has an interesting article and accompanying commentaries (freely available here; longer version of the principal article here) on the concept of boundaries, or limits, or thresholds if you prefer, for the planet.  The principal article, which has 27 authors led by Johan Rockstrom of the Stockholm Resilience Center, is called …


Climate news gets worse

On Science Insider (subscription required), Eli Kintisch reports on two new scientific studies that together spell bad news for our ability to address the greenhouse gas problem. The first is a computer simulation of the effect on global CO2 levels if developed nations adopt the most aggressive greenhouse gas emission reductions they have proposed or …