Today’s links to interesting news and analysis…
- An important comment about our psychology, explaining in part the increased fear of terrorism since 9/11: “Recency Effects in Geology & Financial Markets“, Paul Kedrosky, Infectious Greed, 1 October 2009 — The studies to which he links are also worth a look.
- An example fo the clear thinking that can save America: “The End of Magical Climate Thinking“, Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, Foreign Policy, 13 Janaury 2010 — “One year ago, America’s president said he was going to start a green-energy revolution. Here’s why the Obama administration failed — and what needs to come next.”
- Good news about global warming and fresh water supplies: “How the IPCC Portrayed a Net Positive Impact of Climate Change as a Negative“, Indur M. Goklany, Cato Institute, 18 September 2008
- Update to the previous article, more good news! “The IPCC: Hiding the Decline in the Future Global Population at Risk of Water Shortage“, Indur M. Goklany, Watts Up with That, 18 January 2010
- Ugly news: “Unfunded Benefits Dig States’ $3 Trillion Hole“, Orin S. Kramer (Chairman, NJ State Investment Council), Bloomberg, 20 January 2010
- It’s not as easy as many right-wingers believe: “Profiling: Sketching the Face of Jihadism“, Scott Stewart, Stratfor, 20 January 2010
- “Con Artists“, Daniel Gross, Slate, 20 January 2010 — “Oh, no! Scott Brown has incoherent and appalling economic ideas — just like almost all of his congressional Republican colleagues.”
Quote of the day
By Roger Pielke Sr (emminent meteorologist, see Wikipedia), a preface to this interesting interview “Copenhagen, Europe, Africa and a Vulnerability Paradigm“, posted at OurClimate, January 2010.
As a clear message from the Haitian earthquake, there is a need to assess vulnerabilties of society to the entire spectrum of natural and human caused risks, and to develop policies to reduce these threats. The available financial and other resources need to be optimized in order to most effectively minimize these risks. A focus on funding CO2 reductions which result in a reduction of funds for other actions, such as developing more earthquake resistant urban areas, is not a wise expenditure of financial resources.
Interested readers can view more of my perspective (and that of other AGU Fellows) in our article “Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases,” Eos (of the American Geophysical Union), 10 November 2009.
This is exactly what I have recommended in posts like this: More shockwave events to worry about, in addition to peak oil and global warming — Excerpt:
As said on this post many times (originally here) Studying them individually tells us little, as the correct public policy response is “so what?” Shockwave analysis is useful only with analysis of the scenario’s impact AND probability. Otherwise these are just nightmares.
Today analysis of shockwaves is done almost exclusively by special interest groups (often academic or non-profits). We allocate resources to shockwave scenarios based on several factors:
- the group’s access to elite opinion,
- the group’s ability to raise funds,
- their degree to which their shockwave resonates with the public.
Many studies have shown the people have little grasp of these kind of issue, and less understanding of the relevant statistics (probability and risk). There is a better way to do this. Allocation of our limited resources towards these require sketching out (as best as can be done) the full universe of such dangers.
A modest suggestion about applying the precautionary principle to prepare for shockwaves
The precautionary principle is usually applied in an irrational manner to individual threats, such as climate change. There are many high impact – low probability threats, which I call “shockwaves”. Also, the US and world have many mundane needs that deserve funding. Since resources are finite, we must access their relative importance — which few of these special interest groups around each shockwave bother to do. I discuss this in greater length at this post; here is my suggestion…
Commission a group to collect as many shockwave scenarios as possible, with a brief analysis of each. Fortunately there are thousands of interest groups willing to pitch in and help! Then apply a common analytical framework to rate them on both dimensions: probability and impact. The results would prove quite interesting, and allow more rational public policy discussion about which to act upon.